Writing – Not Writing

Since I was a kid I wanted to be a writer – well, after I got over the whole Major League Baseball thing. I put it that way because I was nowhere close to playing Big League ball. “Writer” was attainable; centerfielder for the Kansas City Royals was not.

Now that I’m a published author, there is one aspect of the journey I didn’t expect: marketing. Writing? No problem. Creating an intriguing story, developing interesting characters – some you love and some you hate? No problem. Spending hours working on sales promotions and traveling around the country pitching my novels to people at shows? Huh?

That never crossed my mind.

I enjoy pitching my (soon to be three) novels and meeting people. Watching best friends react to the tagline for Children of the Sun has been a blast. Seeing reactions as I pitch the premise of Dead Dreams has been equally as fun. The “people” end of it is great; the “work” portion is, well… yeah. Work.

I never anticipated that marketing a novel is far more work than actually writing the danged thing.

Once I complete the outline and begin the actual writing, I hit a groove. When I’m not writing, I can’t wait to get back to my laptop. I figuratively hover above the world I’ve created and paint the scene with words. It’s what I love to do.

Somehow, I just thought everyone (and I do mean “everyone”) would hear about the book, and it would essentially sell itself. Next book.

Yeah, not so much.

It’s not that I’m dumb (fill in your own joke here), it’s just that I thought other people took care of that.

The above is not complaining, rather an admission of my lack of understanding of the process. When I finally figured things out, I was too far down the path of writing – I wasn’t going to stop writing just because selling is difficult, but the word “shock” does come to mind.

Easy, common things (items, accomplishments) in life aren’t as valuable as difficult, rare things. Gold is more valuable than gravel because gravel is common while gold is not. If it’s easy, then anyone can do it. Insert your next applicable cliché here. They’re all true. This means that I continue going to shows, running promotions online, and looking for other ways to get my name and books “out there” to the public. When people learn about the premises to my stories, they are interested. I have to make sure they learn about the premises – and that means work.

Most people reading this are saying to themselves (or maybe yelling at their computers), “Duh! OF COURSE you have to market. It’s like anything else!” Yeah, well, congratulations to you. I never thought about it. I just thought about what I was going to write next. No one said you have to be a genius to be an author.

It’s fair to say that, when I’m not writing and my brain has a free second, it’s focused on what I want to write about next. It’s why I have two books published but I’ve planned out through Book 7. (See a previous blog entry about plans; we shall see whether these plans unfold as I foresee.) Every author I know is pretty much the same way – maybe not with the next five novels planned, but always focused on both current and future writings.

If you are planning on pursuing a hobby that involves sales, marketing is in your future. Plan on that; and plan on focusing at least part of your time on doing things you don’t love, all in the name of what you do love. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then you’ll probably be just as flustered by marketing as I was.

Maybe I should’ve started a stamp collection instead. Nobody markets those things… I don’t think they do.

Until next time, keep reading, and remember to tell your friends and family about Children of the Sun and Dead Dreams. You can be my marketeer. Then I can spend more time writing.

Brian W. Peterson
Somewhere on the Edge of the Great Plains