Trying to Pick and Choose

socialmedia_bomb30I’ve spent the past year trying to learn what to do to become a real, no-kidding professional writer.

I started with learning about queries. They were like the gateway drug to this whole process. My first query took forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but over 250 posts and two months. It took me less time to draft the novel.

And then, since I was so inept at it, I hung out in Query Letter Hell on AbsoluteWrite for months. I was afraid to stop. I couldn’t afford to lose the small proficiency I’d gained. It was time well spent, because I learned an awful lot about what does and does not work as regards story.

I became a voracious reader of all the forums on there, as well as many blog posts from other writers. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. You should read as much as you write.
  2. You should write every day.
  3. Don’t skimp on editing. Do beta swaps and hire an editor when those are done. (Second part may be optional if you’re going for traditional publishing.)
  4. You need to learn about social media and be effective in it. Know about Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and whatever it is that teens are on. I think it’s Snapchat. Get involved in groups on Goodreads.
  5. Have a blog. Put good content on it, several times a week minimum.
  6. Remember that the best promotion for your book is to write another book. If you’re going to self-publish, you should really have at least three a year.
  7. Remember that writing doesn’t pay very well, so don’t quit your day job.
  8. Once you publish a book, promote it like crazy. Have a press kit, and contact radio stations, book bloggers, newspapers, and events in your area where you can sell your books.
  9. Make sure there’s time for experiences in your life so you have something to write about.

I don’t think it’s possible to do all this. Really. I’m extremely focused, and I spend every possible minute on this stuff, as well as some I shouldn’t, and I don’t see it happening. I don’t watch TV, I rarely go to movies, and I don’t play video games. I don’t even work full-time, and I put everything into this that I possibly can. My kids are grown.

I’m honestly afraid to publish until all eight of my novels and my short story collection is completely ready to go–edited, covers and all. What if I have no time to write later because I’m an author? That seems like a painful irony. I don’t want to look at the manuscripts I’ve written and hurt because I don’t have time to finish them.

So I’m curious. What does everybody else do? How do you handle the choices you have to make?

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Avid writer and reader, especially of fantasy. Learning about social networking and always interested in honing my writing skills. Contact me at cathleentownsend.com.

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Posted in Writing
4 comments on “Trying to Pick and Choose
  1. I wish I had a solution! I face this same problem myself, and with much the same situation as yours–I work 32 hours a week, I have no kids (crazy cat lady here), and don’t watch TV. I do play Skryim, though that has dwindled to a couple of times a month as I try to keep up with marketing, writing, reading, editing, etc.

    I’m revising a YA fantasy book, but I currently have six books by other people that I need to read–all YA fantasy, for me to get a better grasp on the genre. And forget about blogging on a regular basis. 😛

    Just today I was thinking, “I need to do a brain dump. List all the tasks I want to do in the next year or two, and then figure out which needs my immediate attention.” But how to sort that all out? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I didn’t think there was any sort of magic bullet. I’ve simply come to the conclusion that since I’ve added social media and blogging to the mix, the whole thing’s become untenable. And I came to the conclusion that nobody could do all this. Not unless they gave up sleep and maybe not even then.

      A list is probably a good idea. There’s supposed to be some sort of cognitive affirmation that goes on when you list your goals.

      Like

  2. colleen says:

    Your words resonate with so many I’m sure, Cathleen! The constant battle every writer faces—where to find the time to do it all? I do work full time and I have two books coming out (under contract) and working on the next one. The only thing that works for me is routine–setting a time to do each thing and trying to stick with that as closely as I can day in and day out. Hour in the morning on my new work, hour on social media, day job, hour or more on blogging, hour to exercise, and the rest on edits, promotion, more social media, and the rest of my life! (There actually is some after that—I’m a horn player in the symphony along with other things.) It gets crazy for sure, and if it’s not working I re-examine the routine and try a new one. Then I make sure I have at least a 2-week vacation scheduled by the ocean every year! (ha) Good luck and don’t let it all overwhelm you. Just do what you can and stay true to yourself. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Colleen–I’m impressed. I’m reasonably disciplined, but I tend to do it in hours total. Perhaps I can try to be more methodical about the whole thing. I’m trying, but sometimes I’ll get caught up in writing or editing, and the schedule goes out the window.

      Right now I’m hoping blogging and tweeting is enough because I don’t see how to add any more. My blog posts to Facebook and Goggle plus, but that’s been my only involvement with those platforms.

      Horn player in the symphony, too! You go! 🙂

      Like

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