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On Writing and Promoting

I have been hearing the saying a lot lately, “Authors write because they have to.”

Because it is their passion.

And I think that’s true.

But then those same people turn around and belittle authors who are trying to make good business decisions regarding their stories.  I’ve read several statements from authors recently that say because writing is their passion they can’t be bothered with numbers or treat their writing like a business.   I’ve even read a comment from an author saying that authors that do pay attention to how their books are performing are trying to “play the numbers” or “wasting time trying to get noticed.”

I think the number one priority as a writer is to find the story you want to write, and tell it as best as you can.  But to me, once you’ve revised so much that you can’t see straight, and you send it off to the waiting arms of potential publishers, (or readers, if you self-publish) the job is only half done.  You have poured your soul, your sweat, sometimes your exhaustion into that story.  If they reject it, you have more work to do, and more story craft to learn.  If they don’t, well… this is where the hard work really begins.

I realize I am a young grasshopper in the writing world.   But if a publisher takes our story, and puts it out to readers, I feel as an author that I have a duty to that amazing story I’ve tried to tell, and to that publisher who is willing to take a chance on us, to try and make sure that readers at least know the story exists.  Thus, I think book promotions and knowing if your book promotions are effective, are also an essential skills of a successful author.  If your book promotions aren’t effective, you’d be better off saving that energy on trying a different tactic, or if absolutely nothing is working, or putting that time and energy back into your writing.  If you aren’t paying any attention, then you won’t know when you’re wasting your time and your energy. More importantly, you won’t know when you’re missing an opportunity to write more books!

Not all promotions are a sales pitch.  I don’t think an Amazon rating is everything, nor do I think checking it every hour helps you sell more books. I do think that knowing where your sales are coming from and how you got them is an incredibly powerful tool that will help you sell more books in the future.  And guess what!  I would like to sell more books, because it will give me the freedom to write more of what I love.   It is my dream for Frog and I to be able to write books, go to conferences or workshops and talk about books, and then go to conventions, and meet other people who love books as much as we do.  I’d love to treat writing like a business, because it would mean we were actually able to support ourselves with just writing!  I am a dedicated worker wherever I am.  Why can’t I throw even more dedication at writing?

Until I am an older grasshopper, and someone can show me otherwise, I can’t believe being good at the business side of writing could possibly be a handicap. I believe that great books sell because they are great, but someone has to pick up the first copy and tell other folks about it.  Book promotion and understanding why your promotions work can help make that happen.