A Case Against Shortcuts for Writers
Blogger: Mary Keeley
I’ve found that if I have a good view of the big picture for something, it is easier to understand how, and more importantly why, the individual pieces fit into place the way they do. For writers, a big picture view should lend understanding when you’re tempted to take shortcuts and submit your proposal before it’s ready. I’m going to focus on several areas, which I’ll call the Three M’s.
Manuscript. What is needed: a can’t-put-it-down manuscript, beautifully crafted, that conjures the reader’s imagination or convinces the reader to pay attention to the author’s compelling description of a problem affecting his life and to which the author has the solution. In just the right number of words, not too few and not too many. Why?
In an online interview here, Seth Godin predicted 15 million books would be published in 2012, up from 3 million in 2011 and a little over 1 million in 2009. The phenomenal increase is due primarily to self-publishing, online purchasing, and e-books.
This trend is sure to continue. Why? Just look around you. It’s quicker and easier to count those children through Millennials who don’t have electronic devices than those who do. The next generation largely prefers e-books over print; the self-pub, click-to-purchase, less expensive e-books appeal to their electronic lifestyles. Conversely, the generation of readers who prefer traditional print books will be shrinking.
Combine these details to create a big picture view. How is it relevant to your manuscript? Obviously, 15+ million books being published in 2013 means writers have stiff competition for readers. As has always been the case, stellar writing will make your book stand out above the fray.
Marketing. Gone are the days when a writer could turn in his manuscript by the publisher’s due date, get paid, and the publisher would take care of the rest. When the author had only to wait for the royalty checks to come in regularly. It’s a new world. Cognizance of the ocean of books being published underscores the realities of diminishing advances and increased marketing initiatives needed by authors to grab attention for their books.
Authors who previously have exercised the creative side of their brain exclusively for their writing must shift to a new paradigm and also use their creativity for the business end of their career. This has been increasingly true for the last few years and is the reason agents want to see a comprehensive marketing plan with strong social media numbers in your proposals.
Common sense says you can’t grow large followings in all of the social media networks and still have time to write and polish your irresistible manuscript. Choose several networks you are most comfortable using and grow your following long before your next manuscript is ready for submission. Learn how to utilize each of those networks to their maximum potential for efficiency and to get the best return on your time investment.
Me. Meaning YOU, the writer. You are the primary representative for your work. Good people skills are vital in developing genuine relationships with your followers and readers. A blend of confidence, friendliness, and professionalism is necessary in communicating on the business side of your career.
Read a couple of business books like Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen and Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras to help you to gain a general understanding of big picture challenges that businesses must balance in order to ensure long-term viability. The goal is to increase your business savvy and fluency with business language, which will help you to communicate professionally.
Does your awareness of big-picture views motivate you excel in the details instead of being tempted to submit your proposal too soon? Which M(s) do you feel is your strongest right now? Your weakest?
The competition is stiff for writers. Don’t submit your proposal until it’s ready. Click to Tweet.
A big-picture view should motivate writers to complete the details. Click to Tweet.
Completing the details makes the big picture view brighter for writers. Click to Tweet.