Knuckle Up Chump. Writing is a Deathmatch #MondayBlogs

I’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it a million more damn times. Writing ain’t easy. And when I say that, I don’t mean writing 80,000 words of coherent story. Don’t even get me started on the countless hours of editing. The soul crushingness of beta readers and further editing. Not to mention the sore throat from reading the entire novel out loud.

I suppose it could end there, but after you’ve written and edited a novel, you probably want to sell it, right? And when I say writing ain’t easy, I’m still not talking about the fight to craft the perfect fucking query letter. Is this concise? Does it convey the right tension? Do I include previous works? What if they didn’t sell well? Should I tell the agent about my overwhelming fear of praying mantises (Manti?)?

After that there’s the always smooth sailing of rejections. Form letter after form letter after slightly personalized form letter, the highlight of the rejection process. But hey, even J.K. Rowling got rejected, right? So you keep plugging ahead. Eventually move from agents to small presses. That shouldn’t be as strict and then you find one and discover that you should have been building yours social network months ago.

It goes on and on. The struggle for sales is real. What about this technique? How about this marketing service? There are probably a million different questions and ten million different answers. And every last one of them leads to work. How much work you put in can decide how successful you will be.

A friend sent me something to the extent of this: Only 5% of people start a book. Of them, only 5% finish the first draft. Of those only 5% have the tenacity to stick through edits. 5% through queries and so it goes. On and on. So do you have what it takes to be in the 5% of the 5% of the 5% of the 5% or whatever? Yes, good. Write a novel and sell some goddamn books. If the answer is no, that’s not a bad thing. Maybe you just really enjoy writing books.

To be honest, I’m at a bit of an impasse. I started writing books because I love it. I started selling books because I’m a narcissist who needs constant approval. Now, I’ve got 4 novels out there that, quite frankly, aren’t selling worth a damn. Recently, I’ve signed up with a book marketing badass (C.D. Taylor) and she has given me a ton of instruction (Read: Work) to market myself. If I follow every bit of direction I’ve been giving, I will surely sell more books, but I will also not have any time to write any more books if I follow all of the instructions. Selling books means a lot to me, but so does writing them. I’ve got a decision to make about how hard I’m willing to work to be successful. So do you. Life is all about finding a balance, my friends. Sometimes that comes natural and sometimes you have to work for it, but whatever you do, never assume writing is easy and know that it doesn’t stop as soon as you get words on the page.

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Embrace the Grind #MondayBlogs

So I saw a maxim scribbled across an athletic shirt that caught my attention. Now, generally speaking, I absolutely hate athletic shirts with silly slogans on them. Every time I see a forty year old dude wearing Oakleys like he’s fucking Kenny Powers with his stomach hanging out of the bottom of his Under Armour shirt that declares ‘Clutch Performer’ I have an urge to ask him when, exactly, he performs under pressure. Probably a knee jerk dickhead reaction on my part, but hey, it’s how I feel.  Back on task, I saw a shirt and the motto read, ‘Embrace the grind’. Holy shit, I want one of those, but not for all that athletic shit. Ten thousand practice free throws a day is not my kind of grind.

But you know what is my kind of grind? Yeah, you guessed it, wordsmithing. If you aren’t a writer and think that writing a novel is as easy as dropping your ass in front of your laptop/word processor/typewriter/stone tablet and kicking out a hundred thousand or so words, you’re right. Well, sort of. Let’s just say you have made it through the entire process of finishing a complete novel. Counting beta reads and editing and all that jazz. Congrats, you’re a novelist. What’s next? Sit down and write your follow up masterpiece, right?

Wrong. Fucking wrong.

If you want to make any money off your novel you need to write a query letter and synopsis and research what agent would be the best fit for your hundred and sixty thousand word epic about a corn kernel’s journey through the small intestines of an aging biker. Then you get picked by an agent or publisher, you’re done right? Not quite Mr. Jumpy Pants. Drop some lead right in the seat of your Levi’s because there’s marketing to be done. Interviews, blog tours, and all kinds of other ‘hey, I wrote a book’ kind of posturing. Oh yeah, while you were writing your book however many months ago, you probably should have been blogging about what the fuck ever people blog about to build an audience. Yeah, audiences buy books. Sold books continue writing ‘careers’ and yes, I use the word career loosely.

So, that second book you were going to start, you remember the one right? Yeah, you had that kick ass idea for a story about a werewolf that changes form every time someone squeaks a squeaky toy titled ‘Like an Lichan’. It’s time to get started on that bad boy. NO, WAIT I SAY. Your publisher loved your breakout hit Colon Kernel and now they’ve requested a sequel. They wan’t to know if you can have them the first draft in two months.

Okay, so that whole scenario is a bit blown up, it’s true. But not by much. Sustaining a writing career (There’s that fucking word again. I don’t mean that you make a living off your writing, I just mean the act of your writing and everything around it) takes a lot of work. There is always a deadline (self imposed or outside imposed) and there is always pressure to perform. This book has to be better than the last one. I need to sell more copies. I need to diversify my bibliography. I need to actually find time to read other people’s books. I promised x,y, and z beta reads this month that I need to do. I need to blog. I need to market. I need to sit in a corner and cry for all my hard work that’s gotten no recognition.

Whatever.

You are always being pulled in a million different directions and at time it feels like too much to handle. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the shit you don’t think about. That’s exactly the time you need to embrace the grind. This is why you do this. This is what you wanted, right? It’s what I wanted. I want fans to read my books and beg for more. I want to write more to give them. I want to share what I have to say, that’s why I started sharing my writing in the first place. So I say it again embrace the grind. That’s fucking right.

We’ve all got shit to do and shit we want to do. If writing is the thing you want to do, then you know what you’ve got to do. That’s right. Embrace the mother fucking grind. 

Weekly update…a week late

I’m back with my occasional Thursday posts. I missed last week. No reason other than I totally forgot. On Friday my wife was like, “Hey, did you have a blog post this week?”. Oops. Now, I’m back, better then ever…hopefully.

This week I want to bring everyone up to speed on the million projects I’ve got going now. Not really a million, but a bunch.

I didn’t think line edits for Beasts of Burdin would be sent to me until late in July, so I figured I would have time to rewrite an old project I desperately want fixed and publish ready. Half-way through the rewrite I get an email with line edits for Burdin. Now, I’m taking a quick break from other project to get these edits done.

 

On top of that, lucky for me, I’ve already got the first draft of Burdin 2 (Which I’ve now decided will be titled “Ty Down”) finished. I am going to edit it immediately after finishing the line edits for Burdin since the story and characters will be fresh in my head.

Looks like my other project is going to be taking a back seat for a minute and I have no idea when I’m actually going to have time to actually write any new material. I’m going to get to it eventually though.

Oh yeah, and I’ve spent tonight catching up on like 6 blog posts I should have had written two weeks ago. Such is the life.

Until next time…