Can I tell you a secret? Good writers think they’re crap. Crap writers think they’re good.
Marketers and con-artists both know this. So many of them target the former, and egg on the latter. A crap writer will take their 50,000+ word manuscript from NaNoWriMo, make sure it has a beginning, an ending that somewhat works, and they will hit publish. Off it goes to join the other millions of mediocre (or worse) manuscripts. Those of us who read in our genre, who have some moral fiber, and who can’t sanction the thought of turning out anything less than the perfect novel, we cringe at this process, often getting stalled in the dreaded re-write loop. And when we’re finally done that, we look for validation, confirmation and [dare I say it?] even somebody to show us the way to do it -right-.
Fear will stop more good writers than any other issue
Perfection, and -the right way- are figments of our imagination. After all, we’re writers, right? Imagination is our stock-in-trade. Telling lies for fun and profit and all that. What this means is that our imagination is really really well-developed, and for this purpose, conjuring reasons to stall the publishing process is what happens.
Humans are wired to take the path of least resistance (more on that later I think), and as such, publishing that first few books is hard (I should know, I’ve been stalling for a decade at this point, even Shaunta Grimes FRED doesn’t seem to work. I’ll need a plan to get me to ‘THE END’ as it were.
But the FEAR! I’ve subscribed and subsequently unsubscribed to more ‘this is the one true path to your success’ type things than I can even count (and I’m an accountant). Now, I’m not a dumb fellow. I’ve even put up a couple of short stories on a site here or there for sale, but with a handful of mostly finished manuscripts, I become paralyzed with fear. What if I do it wrong; the formatting is off; I missed ethnically offensive reference that will alienate 5% of my potential readership…
The list is endless, see my previous comment about using our imaginations for good or evil.
Marketing is all about selling a solution to that fear
Along come the marketing gurus, sales wizards, and hucksters of all breeds. Don’t get me wrong. Not all marketers are hucksters and charlatans. Likewise, not all charlatans are hucksters. But marketing is a well researched area, and the best way to get somebody to ‘buy into’ your sale is to do one of three things:
Solve a Problem
Address a Fear
Simplify a Process
In my time on Facebook, and wandering the Internet for entertainment, I have been bombarded with all three of these as relates to writing. There is a fourth tactic that is an amalgamation of some of the other three and usually has the hook that ‘you will free up time and live like a king!’
Our economy is all about selling. Selling means marketing. Better marketing leads to more sales. Sales mean dollars. Dollars are a good way to compare and evaluate success of a venture.
Might I pose a question? If there was a ‘thing’ you could buy that would solve your problem, or address the fear, whatever, would you buy it? I know I would, and have many times. I own a truck because hauling stuff around in a wheelbarrow is time-consuming. I own a computer and invest in good software because accounting ‘the old way’ is insanely cumbersome. Most of these items came to me at one point or another via Marketing. I had a fear, or a problem, the solution was presented and I snatched it up.
See how this works?
Scams are an extension of this marketing tactic
What happens when your needs of a solution become separated from the effect of that solution? What if the marketers convince you that you need this particular new fix? (IPhone ? anyone, or the Galaxy 9?) Sure, the new thing is sleek, shiny, engaging, and as always, it’s fun and probably available for financing of some sort.
But do you need it? Is there an actual need for the solution?
Scams try to get you to either,
1) skip past the need and pay for the solution,
2) sell you a solution that already exists, or will never exist
Fear short circuits the reasoning paths and makes you forget that you are awesome in your own right. Truly. You dared to create something. But if it’s truly any good, and you are as awesome as I know you are, then there’s a little part of you that’s afraid that it’s not any good at all, or that you don’t know how to do it the -right- way.
Scams are the marketing strategies that are designed to capitalize on this weakest part of our shells, the insecurities inherent in putting one’s own work forward. They target the fear of -not good enough- and scammers capitalize on it.
There are good resources out there, really there are. Paid and free, they are out there. Not everything is a scam. The trick is to go into something with your eyes open and your mind engaged. As my dear old deceased dad used to say to me all the time, THINK Dammit!
Publishing is [fairly] straightforward, honestly.
If I could simplify this for you for a profit, I probably wouldn’t put a price on it. I’d just leave a “tip what you feel it’s worth” button somewhere. In fact, I might have one of them lying around here somewhere. To lay it out is deceptive, given the amount of anguish so many of us put into thinking about publishing.
There are two main routes, three if you break them down, and lots more if you need to be specific.
1- Figure out how much of your publishing you really want to do for yourself. If it’s to go traditional publishing, you might need to find an agent, then you (or your agent) will need to peddle your manuscript out to the big (or smaller publishers) and the process is off and running. If it’s indie, or self-pub, then you get to do the footwork yourself. This article assumes indie publishing, since I know next to nothing about the traditional publishing, and don’t want to learn about it right now.
2- So your’e going indie! Awesome! OK, finish writing the book. Really that’s the first step. Go over it, finish it. Re-read it, fill in the holes, round off the (overtly) objectionable edges and make sure that your characters have more than one dimension.
3- Self-Edit the damned thing, then if you’re uncertain, get two or three people you trust (who read in your genre) to read it and make notes on everything that catches their eye. Now, take a breath, assume you’re wrong and they’re right, and ready what they noted. Fix what needs fixing.
4- Guess what, you’re an artist now! Not really. But it’s time to figure out covers and images and formatting. The simplest way is to find an artist that works on Fiver or something who has examples that fit your feel and style, (remember to fit your cover to the genre (space-opera looks VERY different than crime-drama-thriller), detail what you’re looking for from them and get it in place. If you have an artist or even a digital artist in your circle of people, approach them, Local and known is almost always better.
5- Now go find out what your preferred publishing platform requires, set your manuscript up that way, and send it in.
You can do this, you really can!
I know I have over-simplified this, but scam’s suck. Spending money that as a writer, we don’t have, sucks. You got into this writing gig for one of a few reasons, to make money, to side-hustle your hobby, to tell your stories and have people listen to them, to make the world a better place through your art and craft!
Whatever the reason you started, know that it is possible to get to the end, find groups that support you (NinjaWriters is Awesome, so are several others that escape me at the moment), find some amazing blogs that delve into the how and why as well as the hype (madgeniusclub is a good one I read), then, get back to work.
Everything can be learned, you’re smart enough to make up a whole world that’s not this one, from magical Harry Potter style saga to epic Lord of the Rings, you have done the hard work. Now the next chapter (forgive the humour), is to learn the craft of publishing.
Fear can stand for one of two things,
Forget Everything and Run [away]
Face Everything and Rise.
Flight or Fight.
Which one are you. Will the scammers score another easy mark, or will you Fight?!
Join me, be awake, think while you work, learn from everything, and Fight the system, be that one voice in the darkness that can show the way.
You can do it. I know you can. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a story to finish, re-work a few times and hand off to a trusted few to pick apart.