Sunday, June 28, 2015


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


Kevin R. Tipple said...

I had no idea that Beth Groundwater had quit writing. I have at least one of her books in mt tbr pile. This is very sad news as I very much enjoyed her books.

I am surprised folks are quitting over having to promote their books. I don't much care for promoting my work eitehr, but, like paying taxes, if one wants to get anywhere one has to do it.

For all practical purposes, I have also quit writing, but not because of the necessary evil of social promotion. With my wife's terminal cancer, my worsening health, and now the needs of my elderly Mom, I struggle to do the basics around here. Writing is something I miss, but not something I can do anymore much like being able to walk unassisted or many other things.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Book sales seem to be an even bigger complaint, Radine. All my writer friends have been complaining about lack of sales and threatening to quit writing. And, yes, promotions take up too much time, especially considering the results.

Kevin, you're in my prayers.

Nancy LiPetri said...

I can see quitting promotion--and then seeing if that makes a difference in sales--but never quitting writing. Like most writers, I am compelled to enjoy the creative outlet, and compelled to see if anyone else understands what I'm trying to convey. Some posts on the subject say the best thing we can do to make our books sell is keep writing more of them, anyway!

Morgan Mandel said...

I've been so busy doing all the things I'm supposed to and not seeing much results I didn't realize Beth had given up. I know how she feels. Just wading through my e-mails is a chore, there are so many of them. It's hard to write and promote. It seems when I do one, the other suffers.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

I am so glad for y'all's input about this. My book sales are not "world class" for sure, but as long as I am selling enough to make sense to a publisher, and can get by with a moderate amount of social network promotion, I will keep writing. (I have 6 books to market currently, with sales more-or-less evenly divided among them, and two more coming up, one a re-issue.) So, for this reason, smaller sales in this present selling climate for writers wouldn't be what stops me.

Linda Thorne said...

I don't know how anyone could quit writing once they start. Not that I would knock anyone for doing it, I just found it personally impossible for me. I wrote a whole blog that will come out on the Killer Nashville blog in a couple of months called, "My Writing Curse . . . Ten Years and Counting. I started with dreams of big dollars - a movie contract. A month into it and I knew the reality, but nothing could stop me - even ME couldn't stop me from going on and on, trying.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Funny, but I've written a similar post that won't appear until Tuesday, but I think it's different enough to leave it alone. And no, I'm not quitting either.