Good Advice from Patricia C. Wrede

As always, Patricia C. Wrede has wise things to say. If you’re a writer or interested in pursuing your passion in some other way, I highly recommend reading her blog post from today, Getting Into It.

Basic idea of the post is that you have to embrace all aspects of your chosen path if you want to succeed at it.

The last few Strengths coaching cohorts I handled had a lot of authors who were high Relators but not high Woo or Significance or Competition. What that basically means is they were people who don’t derive energy from interacting with large groups of people. There’s no desire to win others over (Woo) or to be in the spotlight (Significance) or to win (Competition). They have the few people who really matter to them, maybe another dozen who they’re close to, and that’s basically it.

They just want to write their books and have enough people love those books so that they can make a living at it. Which means that a lot of the very vocal self-publishing advice doesn’t feel comfortable for them. They don’t want to spend hours of their day on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all the other places that authors can go to interact with the world.

They don’t want to build a base of superfans. At least not the type who want to know everything about them. (And honestly the idea of people who are that interested in their lives is a little uncomfortable to them.)

But that doesn’t mean they can avoid publicity.

So when you’re one of those authors (like I am), you have to find other ways of reaching your audience that are sustainable for you.

Click ads work well for me. (They’re a good choice for someone with high Strategic or Analytical Strengths.)

It’s basically like saying, “Here’s a book I think you’d like” or “Here’s a book that solves your problem” and then getting out of the way and letting the customers buy it.

My readers don’t buy my books because they like me as a person, they buy my books because the books meet their need. At this point I’ve sold over 7,500 copies of Excel for Beginners and not received a single fan mail on that title. The few emails I have received were asking for additional advice or information. And that’s okay with me. They had a need, I met that need. And I met it well enough they went on to buy other books by me if my also-boughts are any indication.

For other authors click ads won’t work well because they won’t have that ability to analyze or adjust as the ads change. But that doesn’t mean they have to establish a Facebook group of fans that they interact with every day and send a weekly newsletter.

They can instead form close relationships with other authors who they then work with on joint promotion. Or they can turn it on for a few days and go to a conference where they charm people one-on-one.

And in self-publishing there are even more options available to that type of author that aren’t available to trade published authors.

Like rapid release schedules. Release often enough that you stay visible to new readers and keep the interest of the ones you’ve already found.

Or price promotions. Let Bookbub be the one that attracts all the readers and then occasionally pay to use their list to reach new readers. That works, too.

You can’t avoid the need to market your product if you want to do this as more than a hobby. But you can do that marketing in ways that fit with your personality. (And, yes, maybe that means the path is longer or slower. But at least it’s one you want to be on.)

Time for NaNoWriMo

I have never in fact participated in NaNoWriMo because I’m not motivated by prizes, competing with others, joining groups, or by someone cheering me on. My motivation is simply to get shit done. (Which is why I have 105 perfect tournament crowns from Microsoft Solitaire tournaments so far this year. Someone send help. I need an intervention.)

This year, though, I’ll be doing what NaNo requires and in the month of November, which is writing the first draft of a short novel in the space of a month.

BTW, for a good general post on Nano and writing check out Chuck Wendig’s NaNo post for 2019.

In preparation for starting this next novel (otherwise known as the procrastination stage), I’ve been doing some thinking.

This will be my 12th novel. And the fifth in this particular series. And I gotta tell ya, I think I’m just now reaching the “you know that you don’t know it” level of writing. After eleven completed novels.

Stop and think about that for a second. How many hours of doing this thing have I put in so far and I’m just now starting to see glimmers of what all is required to make it work well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think my earlier novels are good and enjoyable reads and, for the most part, the reviews back me up on that. People don’t always like what I choose to write about but they generally read to the end before telling the world about it.

But the issue I’m finally becoming concerned with is this: the consistency of the reader experience. Not just writing one good novel or one good series, but writing novels and series that consistently meet the needs of a particular group of readers.

To be really good at this you have to hit enough of the right buttons each and every time so that your particular group of readers walks away satisfied and comes back for more the next time you publish. That is not easy.

It is in fact exponentially harder than writing a single novel. And if you don’t do it well, you end up building on a shaky foundation. A reader thinks, “Well, that book was alright, I guess, so maybe I’ll read another one by them.” That is not the type of readership you want.

Because that kind of reader is the type of reader you will eventually lose if you continue on the way you are. In a hot genre with readers desperate for new material this could take some time. You could probably have a successful series or even two, but it will eventually catch up to you.

So it isn’t about writing a good novel. At least not long-term. It’s about creating a good reader experience across all of your books. And that is much, much harder to do.

And with that cheerful thought, I guess I’m off to “win” my own little NaNo.