Saturday, January 17, 2015

"Do This and Don't Do This."

So I'm stumbling across an Internet landscape full of pitfalls and prizes.  Trying to figure out how to be a writer.  I manage to avoid most of the pitfalls, and occasionally, by accident almost, I will find one of the hidden prizes.

Not a very efficient way to to proceed, but better than not exploring at all. Thing is, I don't really know any professional authors personally.  I don't have anyone's brain I can pick.  Someone who can say, "Do this" and "Don't do this."

So I'm just bumbling along and someone asks, "Do you have a Street Team?"

"What's that?" I ask, innocently.

Or my publisher will ask, "Your ARC's are out."

"What's that?"

Back in my first career, I took writing classes from Dwight Newton, who wrote something like 60 westerns novels. He could at least steer me through the basics.  He could look over my manuscript, make suggestions on how it should look, how to mail it, how long I should expect to wait for an answer, what a contract looks like.  That kind of nuts and bolts stuff.

So while there is much more information out there, it is that much harder to figure out what's important and what isn't.  For instance, I finally signed up for Author's Central on Amazon, which is a handy little place where I can find the rankings of all my books on one page.

Up until now, I've had to go to each book and look, so this will save a huge amount of time and effort. I have no doubt there are dozens of such simple shortcuts that I'm unaware of. You'd think all I need to do is research it.  But so much of what people recommend is spam-oriented bullshit that it is hard to know what's important until you already know.

I know from my small business career that almost ALL of the advice I might find online would be bad, useless, or even harmful. I only found one book in all the time I was researching small business that was in the slightest bit useful.  (Growing a Business, Paul Hawken)

I only found one adviser that I thought was helpful, when I went up the Small Business Center up at COCC.  And I consider myself lucky to have found him.  (He told me I had a "primitive sophistication.") So I don't really try.  The useful stuff comes along if I keep poking enough, staying with the more productive channels of browsing.  Keeping up the primitive sophistication.

I keep adding to my repertoire through sheer incompetent persistence with whatever native canniness I possess. I don't have a lot of the personality characteristics that could make me successful as a selling author.  I do have a lot of the personality characteristics that can make me an author.

Unfortunately, being an author and being a selling author aren't the same thing.

But again, I have the experience of owning a small business, where I didn't have the characteristics of a profitable business owner, but I did have the characteristics of a someone who can create a nice store.

Again, not the same thing. But I just kept doing it, learning by trial and error, being persistent.  I eliminated the things that I couldn't make work (often through my own personality quirks) and reinforced the things that I could make work (again, through my own personality quirks.)

I learned to think for myself and have confidence in my judgement. So I'm just going to keep focusing on the content -- the actual writing -- and apply my native persistence and opportunism, and hope the best.

Learning when to "Do This and Don't Do This" on my own.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

When will we get a report on the Star Wars party?