Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Writers Write
Or…The Dragon has a bone to pick with folks who spend their writing time on promotion

Let me start by saying this will be a controversial post. I apologize and welcome your discussion with one another now.

First, writers write. They must, as a function of today's publishing industry, also promote their work.

But the writer who sacrifices his or her writing time to sit on a panel at a convention or to package up pens and bookmarks to send to a convention where he or she can't participate in the flesh or to stand by a photocopy machine making advance reader copies (ARCs) of the latest manuscript for reviewers ceases to be a writer and steps into the role of a publicist. I have performed each of the above-mentioned tasks and more in the promotion of Choices Meant for Gods, Choices Meant for Kings, and What Choices We Made because I can't afford to hire a publicist, but I have not performed these tasks to the detriment of my writing schedule. I would lose my mind if I didn't have my writing time.

Recently, someone in an online promotional group that I belong to wrote a message chastising the members of the group for not participating more in the free opportunities the group affords. We were being called on the carpet for not taking time to post oodles of links and information about our work. I didn't have time to respond to the message, and was irritated that the message with the scintillating subject line had turned out to be a waste of my reading time. So I decided to use it during my blogging time to educate others.

If you've set aside time for writing because you're a writer, guard it with your life. Don't let promotional activities take away your opportunity to create. If an interview is scheduled during the hour or two hours that you've scheduled for writing, then re-schedule those writing hours for a different time; don't let them slip away. If you have to travel to speak on a panel, write on the plane. Write in the hotel room. You can ask for that wake-up call to be as early as you need it to be…

What I'm trying to get at is this: time is precious. Your writing time is precious. Once you let it get away, you don't get it back. It's more important than responding to a group message or to a blog post. It's more important than opening your e-mail to check "one thing" that sucks you in for an hour. It's more important than the laundry that could be drying while you finally catch up on sleep later.

I'm not going to tell you that scheduling and re-scheduling your writing time is easy. Some writers out there are balancing writing with raising a family with promotion with getting a dog to the vet, etc. There's always something. I have a fulltime job that requires more than 40 hours a week, an illness that requires frequent doctor visits and tests, some of which last more than three hours at a pop, and a couple legal matters that require visits to attorneys (with homework). That means I have to stay organized to keep the writing and promotion up. It is possible.

And it's what makes me a writer.

Which are you?

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Blogger Raven Bower said...

hehe Go Sandy! I totally agree. Sometimes it's really easy to let those 'other things' get in the way and make them into excuses.

Authors need to treat their writing like a career just like any other. That means there are no excuses (okay, maybe a few like a hurricane ate your house and manuscript with it) for missing your deadlines and your writing time.

Unfortunately I'm woefully behind on my promo stuff - like blogs... *blushes* But on the plus side this year alone I've written a complete screenplay which is now in the hands of a producer and has a director and well on it's way to production. Found an agent and we're editing through my latest novel together to spit shine it. Meanwhile I am hard at work on the next book with more on the way.

Next year there's two books due and I'm hoping to squeeze a screenplay into that - we'll see.

Am I addicted? You bet. I think writers need to be. If the writer doesn't have to write and love to write and will sacrifice to do it...I'll just let that hang :)

As for that email from the person nudging everyone. I understand promotion and that authors do need to take steps to promote their work. Not, however, at the cost of their sanity or the cost of future books. After all, publishers don't want one book authors any more (if they ever did).

12:48 PM  
Blogger Laura M. Crawford said...

Sandy, you hit the nail on the head, and gave me a kick in the butt at the same time. Cliche, I know, but here's my point:

I am one of those A.D.D. type people who get distracted very easily, and I am a procrastinator too. I would put off my own funeral and then be late!

But when I write, I am totally focused. I push everything out of the way, out of my mind and just go with what I am putting from my head to the keyboard to the screen or the pen to the paper.

Sometimes it is challenging to get "everything done", but I am the first to admit, I'm not perfect. But the feeling I get when I finish a novel, an article, a story, and essay, whatever it is I am working on, it's better than any drug God or man can invent. I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose, and it brings a clarity to my life I can't get any other way.

As for promotion, being a copywriter, I know the importance of marketing, whether it be a product or a service, but the best lesson I have ever learned is you can't really sell the "thing", you can only sell yourself. Sounds a little like prostitution, and most people say, "Well, I hate trying to sell things. Sales people are sleazy." To that I say, yes, some of them are sleazy when they are only doing it for monetary gain. The best sales people in the world are those who make their client or their customer feel like they are the most important person on the planet, and the service or product they are persuading you to buy is to be of some benefit to THEM, not to your wallet.

If you believe in your writing or your novel, or whatever you are working on, and feel strongly enough about it to share it with the world, then it's not really "selling", it's "sharing". And if you make some money for your art, then all the better.

It all comes down to balance. We all have a lot of balls we are juggling in the air: job, family, illness (for some of us), and our art, but when we set aside the time to write, and stick to it, then everything else seems to fall into place, doesn't it?

Laura :)

1:42 PM  
Blogger theauthormike said...

Sandy my love, I hear you. Tuesday I had to have all of my furniture sitting out in the hall while they pulled up the carpeting and put down wood looking tile. But I planned ahead and set up my desk out there and wound up getting 7 pages that I had hand written while riding the bus back and forth to the doctors offices. I also keep a notebook and pens by the bed. If I can't go to sleep right away, I get up and write. Granted I may have trouble trying to read it the next day but I can at least get the jist of what I was thinking about.

I don't schedule time writing, it schedules me when my muse is done doing her nails or answering her mail and wind up going to bed when the sun is blinding my eyes. But I will make it, I will be successful one of these days. Working on a murder mystery at present and it is controling my mind.

Hope you are doing well with your treatments and no I haven't gone to the doctors yet, soon, possibly one day next week.
Love ya,

9:23 PM  
Blogger Jamieson Wolf said...

You are SO RIGHT!

I spend as much time writing as I do promoting. Without a publicist, the author is left to promote their own work. If you don't promote your own work, who will?

Because I spend so much time promoting, I write at odd times. I write for a half an hour when I get up in the morning, write for an hour when I get home and the write for an hour before I go to bed.

Sometimes, after finishing a book, I give myself a weeks vacation. But I'm not resting; I usually spend that time promoting.

It's hard to find a balance and not lose the time you need to hone and work on your craft.

Either way, as long as I'm writing something, I'm happy. That's what it's all about right?


7:10 AM  

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