The fact is, writing is a full-time job, whether you can devote forty hours a week to it or not. Most of us can’t, so we find ourselves having to pick and choose between items on a list of a hundred tasks we should pursue in order to advance ourselves as authors.
Should we blog more? More posts generally equal more traffic. But the connection between blog visits and books sold is still a little hard to quantify. The connection between a “big” book and the number of people who visit that author’s blog is a little clearer…but it takes many sales (thousands) to get to that point.
Should we be reaching out to local media and appearance outlets to get the word beyond our direct circle of influence?
Should we be compiling mailing lists? Making t-shirts and merchandize? Planning media stunts?
We could try all of these (if we can find the time.) They all have the potential to cause a bump in sales. But the one thing I have come to the conclusion we all need to do?
Every couple of years, we all hear about the authors who hit it big. The J.K. Rowlings and the Stephenie Meyerses and the Suzanne Collinses. But of the millions of books that release over a handful of years, only a few reach this superstar status. More people are probably hit by lightning than become superstar authors. The rest of us are more realistic to aspire to being solid mid-listers. There is a living in being a mid-lister, and apparently, this less glamorous brand of writer can also make occasional visits to the New York Times bestseller list, and who would complain about that?
The reason mid-listers make steady money is because they keep writing and writing and writing books. It’s sort of like having investment property. You can have one, and it might cash flow, but the only way property management is going to be your full-time job is if you have many properties generating simultaneous income streams. Chances are, you aren’t going to buy them all at once, but work your way up to owning a dozen houses. And sometimes the hot water heater is going to go on one and it won’t cash flow for a while. Prolific authors know that new books sell old books, and one book that’s currently selling may have to pull the weight for one that’s not.
It all comes back to that great asset none of us has in enough abundance: time. If one book takes two hundred hours to write and countless hours to edit and polish, it’s no wonder we new authors struggle to achieve this prolific status I’m talking about. The argument I am making here is about priorities, when it all comes down to it. Yes, we need to market, promote, network, and connect. But first and foremost…
We need to write.
It’s the hardest part of all, but I’d also assert, it’s the most gratifying as well.