When I opened a recent Sisters in Crime list I was startled to read posts in a discussion that might be titled, "I want to (or am going to) quit writing." (And at this hour, the discussion is on-going.)
Names I know well entered the discussion saying some version of "I quit." For example, I learned that a long-time favorite author, Beth Groundwater, quit some time ago. (Wow, now that I think of it, I haven't seen a new book announcement from her for some time!)
Why? Why? Why? I admit I had already guessed. Not the writing. All spoke of how much they loved writing.
Nope--it's the promotion burden, especially on social media. Constant push from agent, editor, publisher..."Sign up for this author promo web site." "Post on this." "Do blogs." Join facebook, twitter, printerest, on, on on." "Prove, when you apply to us, how active you are in social media."
If you are an author reading this, does the above sound familiar? Sure does to me, and just reading about it wears me out. How can I be all things on all sites? What works best for me? (Oh gee, my fellow author keeps up two types of facebook sites, tweets almost constantly, and blogs every day.)
Y'know? Several of these "I'm gonna quit" authors said they couldn't prove all this commenting, contributing, being clever online, did much to increase sales. Maybe, maybe not. One author I assumed had great sales and is with a well-known and admired middle-sized house said she'd done it all but her sales were still not all that good. Yes, she's one who is quitting the writing profession.
I liked best the comment of another author, (with Berkley), who said she did none of it. "I know my sales would be much better if I was active on social media, but . . . " (Fill in) "I'm not going to ruin my life," "Ignore my family," "Have a nervous breakdown," "sacrifice everything for what people expect me to do in the way of promotion."
Whew. Well, in a way, this push to promote is to be expected. For years those of us who spoke/taught about writing as a career preached some version of "Yes, you can do it." And, with the coming of self-pub, I suspect most of our listeners did just that. In a way, those of us who have followed a writing career full or part-time and enthusiastically spoke about it, helped caused the glut of books available to readers.
Glimmer of hope? At the recent Arkansas Writers' Conference in Little Rock, a speaker, Cara Brookins, talked to us about social media promoting an inch wide and a mile deep. Method? Twitter. Okay to do an occasional facebook, et all, whatever, but even now these are fading as good promo due to diminishing returns. Twitter, she says, is where it's at, and it's amazingly uncomplicated. (She advised: "80 % general and fun comment, 20 % direct promotion of your book/s.) Accept everyone you can to your list. Everyone who asks you or tweets to you should be there. (Delete later if they turn out to be porn or a similar negative.). You can reach thousands in a surprisingly short time. Well, of course, she and her team are equipped to help you with this, so her own self-promo was evident, but still--does tweet and tweet mostly sound possible? I've begun to dip my toe into this particular pool. And it's amazing how much of the social media promotion burden has lifted. Perhaps it will work. Twitter can be my main online connection. I can continue, happily, with my weekend local book sales in an Arkansas-based grocery chain. averaging 20-25 books sold each time. I love meeting the public and chatting with them in this way. Beyond good direct sales, it has given me follow-up connections to book clubs and local speaking engagements. Old-fashioned? Maybe. Hard work? For sure. But fun and satisfying. Yes, that's for sure too.
And, I have no plans to quit being a writer.
Radine Trees Nehring, happily writing the "To Die For" mystery series