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Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musing - What It Takes

I overheard someone lately who said he would love to be a writer because they only work when they feel like it and yet they earn six-and-seven figure incomes.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To be a success in this business (and it IS a business, regardless of how much some of us love it) a writer must often work 40, 50 or more hours each and every week. About half that time is actually spent in the act of writing. The other half is everything else that comes along with the trrritory.

Years ago, when I first entered this business, the writer's job was to write. Once the book was accepted by a publisher and in the production, release and promotional cycle, the publisher did the bulk of marketing and promotion... Getting press releases to the media, getting sales information to the wholesalers and retailers, and raising the profile of the book.

But when companies began to get "leaner and meaner", one of the tasks that publishers pushed onto the author was the marketing and promotional efforts. This includes everything from getting reviews, getting in newspapers, magazines, and blogs; getting featured on the radio and television; scheduling book signings, talks and appearances; and trying to figure out in every way imaginable how to reach the ultimate consumer, the reader.

Once an author's book is published, the job changes dramatically. From that point forward, the job becomes half writing and half promotion.

While I am writing one book (The Pendulum Files) I am editing another book (The Tempest Murders) and I am promoting the Black Swamp Mysteries series. In June and July, it means promoting Vicki's Key, in August and September, it's Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, and in October and November it will be Dylan's Song.

It doesn't matter whether the author is with a small publisher or one of The Big Five New York publishers. The promotion and the marketing falls squarely on the author's back. If the author happens to already have millions of followers - such as a repeat bestselling author or a celebrity of some sort - then some marketing dollars are budgeted for the book, proportional to how many millions of books the publisher expects to sell.