The business side of writing

You’ve finished that book you’ve been slaving over for the past several weeks, or even months. Pulling just the right word or phrase from the depths of your mind was like passing a kidney stone, painful, but leaving you feeling like you’ve achieved something great. You think, now, the hard part’s over, and all you have to do is hit ‘publish,’ and then you sit back and wait for the accolades to come rolling in.
Well, I can assure you that, unless this is your first book, (in which case you already know this, so you can stop reading at this point), your work has just begun.
Writing is admittedly difficult, but it pales in comparison to the effort you must put into making sure your work gets read. Wait, you thought that writing it was what it takes to achieve that? No, like having a child, there’s a lot more effort required to make sure that child makes it in the harsh world that awaits. Writing is like procreation, it’s the creative part, the merging of sperm and egg to create that magical being. But, like a child, if you don’t do the nurturing and educating to prepare it for the real world, it will wither.
The really hard work for a writer is all that comes after—and sometimes, before—you put all those beautiful words on the screen. Those of you who have been at it a while know what comes next; the dreaded M word. Yes, marketing what you write. Your words mean nothing unless you get them in front of readers, and then entice those readers to . . . read them.
Marketing is the process of getting word of your words (okay, not very creative, but you get the point) to as many potential readers as possible, and convert those potential readers into not just readers of the specific book, but hopefully, customers for the next, and the next, and the one after that. Now, I’m assuming here, that you’re not a one-book wonder.
This won’t be a primer or guide to marketing—save the thanks, just read my books, that’s all the thanks I need—just a cautionary word to every writer out there. While you’re writing, don’t forget the need to get the word out.
You can do it in a number of ways. You can buy ads, give talks, blog, etc. Buying ads can get expensive, and unfortunately, until you become a known quantity, don’t offer much return for the investment. The talk circuit is not for everyone. Some writers are painfully shy, and like most people, fear public speaking more than death. Blogging is a relatively inexpensive way to get the word out, but takes time away from what you really want to do—write books.
Despite the problems, if you want to be known as a writer, want people to read what you write, you’ll have to take a deep breath, gird your loins, and dive in. I’d like to say it gets easier with time, but it doesn’t. It’s a slog. For every two months I spend writing a book, I spend an equal or greater amount of time promoting it. I also have to budget time to promote my back list, and in my case, with more than 60 books on that back list, this is not insignificant. In the end, though, it will pay off (and, I’m assuming here that you’ve written something people will want to read).
So, keep writing. Write every day. But, you will also need to carve out time each day to do the often unpleasant, and always grueling work of promoting, marketing your work.
That, my friends, is the business side of writing. If you want to know more details about my marketing activities, stay tuned. When I have time, I’ll do a short piece on my marketing plan, from which, I hope, you’ll get some ideas that you can use.