Are you one of those authors who spend far too much time checking your rankings on Amazon or Barnes & Noble?
Fear not. It’s perfectly natural.
We all want to be successful as writers, make a lot of money and so forth. But try not to become obsessed about how your book or books are faring.
Easier said then done, I know.
But think about this. You check the rankings, and the next thing you know, you’re looking at other books on Amazon. And then, forty-five minutes or an hour have flown by – time you could have spent writing that next book.
Ah yes. Writing. Why weren’t you spending that precious time doing that, or perhaps, marketing one of your books?
Have a great day.
Author Mike Reuther in front of the Willie Mays statue outside AT&T Park, San Francisco.
Today is the birthday of Willie Mays. He’s 82.
Willie was my hero as a kid. Sure, he was a great player. But the thing that really set him apart was the unbridled joy and zest with which he played baseball.
Even as a kid watching him on television, it was something I could see.
I bring up Willie because he represents exactly what we all should be in our chosen pursuits. Since this is a writing blog, I’m speaking to all you authors out there. Bring passion to your writing. Bang out those words like Willie knocked out hits at old Candlestick Park and the Polo Grounds.
Write like you’d rather do nothing else. Get the words down fast, as if you’re the Say Hey Kid dashing after a fly ball in the gap with your hat flying off.
You see, we can all be Willie as we take our places behind our computers and writing pads each and every day.
Have fun … like Willie had fun all those years he played baseball.
Happy Birthday Willie. May you live another eighty-two years.
So you want to write a book huh? If you’re in it for the long haul, there are some simple rules to live by. I took the liberty of brainstorming some of my own. Take a look. Share ‘em with your writing friends. Feel free to paste them to the wall above your writing area.
The Top Ten rules to live by if you’re an author
1. Write fast and from the heart.
2. Write because you have something to say.
3. Don’t think when you write. (See number 1 if you don’t understand that).
4. Write even when you’re tired or don’t feel like it.
5. Try to write the same time every day. After all, good writing means getting in a rhythm.
6. Checking out Internet writing sites are fine, but don’t let them eat up your valuable time.
7. Don’t write to make big money. Some authors do (even bad ones), but they’re the exceptions.
8. Remember life isn’t fair.
10. Keep writing.
One of the worst things about being a writer is the godawful frustration you find yourself up against with trying to draw attention to the words you’ve put out there before people.
I often write these blogs with the first-time author in mind, but I know there are also loads of you who’ve published one or two books as well.
You know the agony of marketing. You remember how hard it was just placing the fanny into the chair every day and writing. Then, you finished your first book, sent it out to the world hopeful as a young child on Christmas morning.
Alas, you made little if no money for all that hard work and time. You think of all the many things you’ve done in life that bore some type of fruit after so much labor. If it was a job there was at least a paycheck waiting for you.
I often compare the life of a writer to that of an aspiring politician. There’s just no guarantee after all that campaigning that you’ll actually win. In fact, second place brings you nothing.
Yes, it can be tough out there. So what keeps you going as a writer?
Ask yourself why you write. Look for little things every day to keep yourself going. Take pride in the fact that you’ve finished a book and stuck with this writing life as long as you have.
In the meantime, keep marketing your work. There’s plenty of ways to get noticed out there. Maybe you’ve tried all the usual methods – getting reviews from readers, going on blog tours, submitting to interviews, – and perhaps book sales have only trickled in.
Try something different. Be creative. Marketing can take a while to really take off, especially for unknown writers.
The point is, there was a reason you wanted to write books. Sure, if you’ve stuck with it this long perhaps you experience that crushing feeling of what seems to be the utter futility of being a writer.
Maybe you want to give up and concentrate your energies on something else. Then again, think how you’ll feel if you just give up. I mean, is that really an option?
I would love to hear from readers on this one.
So you’ve written your first book. It’s been proofed and edited. You love what you have before you – a finished book, a great story that’s even more than you had hoped for.
The words flow. After all, you sat down and wrote the first draft fast and from the heart.
It’s been a few weeks now since you’ve made the final sweep through the book and made all the needed revisions.
Are you sitting on the book, afraid to have it published? If so, why? Surely, you plan on getting that manuscript off to literary agents. Or, if you planned to go the ebook route or Print on Demand, you must be ready to get that book into cyberspace or print.
So what’s stopping you?
Interesting enough, many writers give birth to a book, only to find themselves frightened to send their baby into the world. The hardest part is behind them, but now they’re scared what others might think of their finished project.
Hey. You wrote a book. It’s the time many writers dream about. Not too many people you know have done that, I’ll bet. So why the hesitation, the fear that what you wrote won’t be good enough?
If you’re an author who’s finished your first book, someone who’s spent all that time writing and re-writing and getting it into shape, don’t you think what you have in your hands is a pretty good story? Do you really think everyone is going to hate or laugh at what you wrote?
Get your book out there and move on to the next one. If you always wanted to be a writer, sharing your words with others is part of what it’s all about.
Chances are you have a pretty good book on your hands. Don’t you think?
It can be a lot of fun writing a book, even a rush. That is, if you write fast and just let the words fly onto the page.
A free-flow of thoughts can be the best approach to writing that first draft of a book you’ve long dreamed of getting out there to the world.
Of course, you may be hesitant to write in such a way. Many writers are. They fear the words they really want to convey won’t come out on paper as they planned.
But really, you can’t plan a book down to the last sentence anyway. That story you want to tell has a way of veering away from you, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
Oh you may plan and outline and do character sketches out the gazoo. But a book takes on a life of its own. And that’s okay. A writer should allow his instincts to be his master. The first draft of any work is not a final plan anyway. There’s always time for revision.
Many authors are surprised what they write in that first draft when it’s done in a fast and furious state. They find out the writing comes out naturally, and when they read back a bit of what they’ve written, they find the writing is smooth and natural as well.
And here’s another cool thing. They have the time of their life doing it.
Has the slow, stop and start method of writing worked for you up to this point? Have you spent many months, even years trying to write with your left brain, that logical approach to giving birth to a book?
If so, try writing fast. And not just fairly fast, but as quickly as you can put the words down on paper. Why take the long, grueling route to writing a book?
If you’ve pondered a book for a long time, or you’re still stuck on Chapter Three after four years, why not try something else? Sit down and just let the words spill out.
What have you got to lose?