|Image by Ryan Ritchie, via Flickr|
Exactly what all does a writer need to be? We can begin with researcher, organizer, storyteller, grammarian, developmental editor, content editor, proofreader, marketer, publicist, PR person, distributor, and the list goes on. Oh, yes, this includes learning the formats/skills required by these diverse professions. Remember that being a jack of all trades also implies being a master of none. Yet we are counseled to learn our craft. How can we do that without acquiring the expertise needed to fulfill all the “jobs” included under the “successful author” umbrella?
We can become advocates for ourselves. One dictionary defines advocacy as the act of supporting something, and who can support us better than we can? After all, we have the most to gain—and the most to lose. However, supporting ourselves doesn’t mean doing it alone. It’s an extremely rare writer who’s an expert in all the above fields, and a reality check will likely reveal that we have neither the time nor resources to spend years becoming proficient in all the required areas. We need help.
Look around at the successful authors you know or have read about. How did they do it? Consider our folks here at BRP: Kathryn Craft, Maryann Miller, Carola Dunn, Helen Ginger, Morgan Mandel, Polly Iyer, Terry O’Dell, Heidi Thomas, Kim Pearson, Elle Carter Neal, Shonell Bacon, Diana Hurwitz, Elspeth Antonelli, Debby Harris, and others, as well as our commenters, many of whom are published writers. Are they all privy to some well-kept success secret? Or have they adopted self-advocacy rather than trying to become jacks of all trades? Many of them have shared their “secrets” in this blog.
Personally, I begin with a potential plot, ask myself a lot of “what if” questions, and utilize my knowledge of grammar, punctuation, structure, and plot/character development to create my stories. After writing an opening scene to hook my readers—and no doubt rewriting it numerous times—I turn my characters loose to run with it. Beta readers help me find weaknesses in completed manuscripts and offer invaluable suggestions to enhance flow and readability. Editing skills are exchanged. Cover design is turned over to more qualified hands. Marketing has been one of my biggest shortcomings, so I’ve engaged someone to handle much of that aspect. Farming out those areas where I am lacking did not come at the outset of my writing career, but rather has been an outgrowth of my early experience with trying to do everything myself. Presently, I’m updating and revising my completed books and planning to reissue them before the end of the year, along with one or more new ones. Budget, always a concern, has been enhanced by bartering; I exchange my expertise for that of others, and we both benefit. An occasional skill still requires out-of-pocket money, but total output is an affordable expense.
How do you advocate yourself/your work? Do you have a team (beta readers, editor, designer, etc.)? Have you educated yourself in the various aspects of marketing? Do you advertise? How do you distribute your books? Do you produce hard copies, e-books, or both? What words of wisdom can you share with us?
|Linda Lane and her editing team mentor and encourage writers at all phases of the writing process. To learn more about what they do, please visit them at www.denvereditor.com.|