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Monday, April 04, 2011

Author lament: too busy promoting to write?

An author has decided to leave the field after years of unsuccessfully trying to promote her works, and she brought up a point I've heard before in various rants and discussions time and time again: how can an author be successful and still have time to write?

Many of us have day jobs or families to support as our primary time suck, and very few of us are full time writers. In fact, I don't know of any full time writers off the top of my head and I don't think even most NYT bestselling authors are there. It's not just the economy; this isn't a profession you can get rich off of. This is a labor of love where you have to put the energy into it or perish. "Publish or perish" is an oft-heard cry, and it is true. It's been said that the best promotion an author can have are new releases, and this is also true.

In the days of social networks, online chats, blogging, and emailing lists (which many authors refer to as "loops", don't ask me why!), some of this load has been taken off of us. But the rest really comes down to time and fortune, fortune being in the right place at the right time and taking the time to do it.

I write because I love it. When I say that it's work and requires work, that's simply truth. It's something you have to constantly strive to improve in and stay on top of in order to continue producing good and better works. It's a labor of love and must remain such in order for it to be "work that isn't work". When it ceases to become that, it's either time to try and put the romance back into the craft or consider a hiatus or even a permanent departure from the field altogether. Sometimes you can put too much in too quickly and burnout. I think nearly every author has had burnout at some point in their career, and it can greatly impact your ability to put out quality works, or any at all.

Like every valuable thing in your life, you have to determine for yourself what you're willing and able to put into it, and evaluate often. Sometimes life has to come first whether we (or our readers) like it or not.

What are your thoughts? Writers, have you ever battled with this and if so, what did you do? Readers, what are some of your own ideas on this issue?

Love & Magic,


Mila said...

I've had to take it a little bit at a time unfortunately. Doing this intense degree at school, some days I don't get to write, but maybe just blog about something. Other times, its a long time before I see the pages.

About a couple years ago I was so depressed about it that I just walked away for a bit. I had to make a hard choice a long time ago. Balance as much as I can and reach those that are reachable or...give it all up.

I don't think I can do that, give up, but I completely understand the author's rationale.

Adrianne Brennan said...

My life's gone like that too. For starters, I have a job that can sometimes take a LOT out of me, including weekends, and have been in jobs where I literally had no life. I thankfully am not in that position now but I've been there, and writing's impossible when that happens.

I also see writers put a LOT of pressure on themselves to be supermom, superauthor, superpromo, release-or-die types and it's just awful. I really hope they won't burn out but at that pace it's inevitable. At some point you have to simply admit that you're human.

Jenn Nixon said...

Promotion can be tricky, but I've learned long ago to multi-task. With blogs, you can set them up ahead of time. You can actually do the same thing on twitter.

Main thing, is if you love enough and want it enough, you'll find the time. That may mean getting less sleep or foregoing your favorite TV show, but it will pay off eventually!

Adrianne Brennan said...

I have my Facebook page posting to my Twitter which then posts to my Facebook profile. My blogger updates both my page and my profile on FB. I can only do so much myself, and look for shortcuts where I can.

It's a mad, mad world...

Raine Delight said...

I took all of last year off. I was under so much pressure at home, my home business was taking off and I just left my longtime publisher on top of it. I had to assess if I wanted to stop writing or not. It was tough to decide but I find I enjoy creating new stories but also I have to stop saying "Yes" to everything and have "NO" in my repertoire. :)

I also delegated certain days for my day job and for my writing. I also made sure to give myself downtime as well to recharge as well.

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