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Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Writing Career: What I Didn't Expect Along the Way

It's not an uncommon thought: writers just write, right? We sit down, churn out some words, send them off to an editor, and that's all we do. Everything else is some act of fairy magic, or something or other.

I'm not mocking it. Before I began I was under the same impression. Getting a career in writing meant a few things I didn't anticipate, and for those of you just starting out, here are a few of them:

1) Self-promotion. O holy hell, this can be a time suck and easily mismanaged. You need a website with your name as the domain, you need to talk to people who are involved in the media, you need to be actively talking to people and seeking out potential readers, and also chatting with fellow writers about the craft and learning how they go about it.

In short, if you're not an extreme extrovert like me, you have my most sincere sympathy. I've been online since the days before the Internet and have always been comfortable chatting with people in social networking before the concept was even coined, let alone had a name for it. It's how I met like minded people back in my teens and realized I wasn't alone in this nutty, nutty world.

The best way I've honestly found to promote is not to. Very Zen, I know, but it's often true. Just talk to people. Discussing what you love, shared'd be amazed at how many people will read your works because they've chatted with you about favorite fandoms. It's about being real, and it takes a lot less effort than business cards and advertisements--and it's way more rewarding.

Then there are others who go about it the wrong way. They spam emailing lists, come across as pushy salespeople, and often wind up only promoting themselves to other authors--which is a closed loop. This is the most common mistake I see in marketing everywhere, not just with writers. I see it with fellow Beachbody coaches and other sales folk online who rely on word of mouth for their business.

And there's that scary word that some won't anticipate, either: business. Which brings me to:

2) This is a career, a job where you're getting paid for your work. Which means it's a business. You need to think about how you're going to get your taxes taken care of (I highly recommend getting an accountant and handling it that way), saving receipts, keep track of legitimate author related expenses including travel, paper supplies, software, domain name registration, you name it. Once you're in this stage, you're no longer engaged in a hobby you're passionate about; you're thinking of this as a professional career.

But there's one thing I've been thankful of in all of this, and that's:

3) I've met so many awesome people along the way whom I wouldn't have met otherwise. That's the joys of getting around and interacting: meeting people who connect with you on the writing level, from them reading your work.... It can be a bit humbling at times, but also touching. I once got a Google alert for one of my books and traced it to a site where someone listed it on his profile under "favorite book". I think that was the best email I ever got, and a bit surreal too.

I'm passionate about writing and I love interacting with others, so this has been the ideal career for me, and while it may not be my primary one it's doing what you enjoy.

"Do what you love and never work a day in your life."

Love & Magic,

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