The Suckage Called Excuses

Recently, I had to ask myself a few questions. Before I get to those questions (and the subsequent answers), let me state a couple of things.

First, I suck at promoting myself. Second, I suck at promoting my books. Third, I suck.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the question and the why behind it. So, let’s start again:

Recently, I had to ask myself a few questions. The first question is: Have I done everything in my power to get my work into the hands of readers? The answer is NO. Question number two: Have I done everything I can to promote my books? The answer, again, is NO. Question number three: Why the heck not? I’ll answer this one later.

CiPvrIyWEAAv-gJGoing into 2018, these are questions I had to ask myself. Up until recently, I chose not to answer them. It’s like that thing you ignore in hopes that it will go away. Instead of going away, it gets bigger or worse or it learns how to talk and you can’t ignore it anymore. It is at that point where you have to face your fears (and the thing you have been ignoring). You brace yourself, hoping you can handle the situation. Then you find out there was no reason to worry and the issue is easily resolved. If you would have just faced the thing you were hoping would go away, you wouldn’t have had sleepless nights, and you wouldn’t have worried yourself into a corner with your thumb stuck in your mouth.

Being stuck in a corner, I decided to answer the questions and face the music. I hoped it was punk music I would hear in return. So, I asked myself the first question and sat back and thought about it. Have I done everything in my power to get my work in the hands of readers? I scratched my head and rubbed my chin. I even had a few false starts, telling myself excuses as reasons to why I can’t do everything in my power to get my work in the hands of readers. Not all readers will want to read your work. You don’t have enough books (or money to purchase those books) to put them in everyone’s hands.

“Fair enough,” I said and moved onto the second question: Have I done everything I can to promote my books? Again, I responded, Come on, A.J., you don’t have the money to market your books. You don’t have the network to market your books. You don’t know how to market your books. You don’t know how to use social media to promote your books as well as you would like. You don’t have the time to market your books the way they need to be marketed in order to do it right.

“Fair enough,” I repeated. The two questions I needed to answer had been answered and I was satisfied with them.

Here is TRUTH #1: All of that is bogus. They are excuses I told myself so I could sleep at night. They are excuses I told myself so I would be satisfied with where I’m at. They are excuses I told myself so I could say, hey, you’ve done everything you can. The problem is I wasn’t sleeping at night and I wasn’t satisfied with where I am as an author, and I certainly haven’t done everything I can.

Here is TRUTH #2: If I truly (and I mean truly) want to get my books in front of people, then I will do it. If I truly want my books to sell and do well, then I will do it. I’ve said similar things to other folks in the past: if you want it, you will do everything you can to achieve it.

This led to three more questions: Have I worked for it? Well, yes, I have. But have I worked hard for it? Umm … yes. Have I worked as hard as I can for it? Umm … not really?

This leads me back to my original third question; WHY THE HECK NOT? There are two answers to this question. The first being confidence. The second is quite simply, fear. Both of those things lead to self-doubt, and self-doubt can be crippling.

Let’s break down the excuses I told myself. Have I done everything in my power to get my work in the hands of readers? Excuse #1: Not all readers will want to read your work. To this I say, “So what?” Does it really matter if everyone wants to read my work? Of course not. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz. Excuse #2: You don’t have enough books (or money to purchase those books) to put them in everyone’s hands. This is really not an excuse. I don’t have enough money to purchase enough books to put them in everyone’s hands. But should that stop me from getting as many Brown Bag Stories into the readers hands? No. The more of those I can get in readers hands, the better. They are like business cards, with all the proper information in them, and a story to boot.

[[Side Note: In case you don’t know what The Brown Bag Stories are, they are booklets I put together each month. Each booklet contains a story, author’s notes on what inspired the story, and information about some of my books you can purchase. This year there is a little something extra in them. Do you want to know what that is? Well, I guess you’ll just have to subscribe to the newsletter to find out. You can do that by going here: http://eepurl.com/cDEh9v. End Side Note.]]

On to the next question and its excuses: Have I done everything I can to promote my books? Excuse #1: You don’t have the money to market your books. So? You don’t always need a lot of money to market. You just have to have a cost effective plan. Excuse #2: You don’t have the network to market your books. Maybe not, but you will never have the network if you don’t try to build it. Excuse #3: You don’t know how to market your books. That is somewhat true, but still, you have to learn. Research is your friend. Excuse #4: You don’t know how to use social media to promote your books as well as you would like. Hey, Self, see the answer to Excuse #3 above. Excuse #5 (and this one is a doozie): You don’t have the time to market your books the way they need to be marketed in order to do it right. Really? You have time to watch a basketball game, right? How about do some marketing during commercials and at half time? What about Facecrack? You have time to be on it, right? If you’re not using it to market yourself, then hop off and, I don’t know, market yourself.

Lack of confidence and fear often lead to excuses. I’ll be honest here and say it isn’t so much a lack of confidence—I have plenty of that when it involves my ability to tell a story. That is one area I do not lack in.

Fear, on the other hand … I think we all have a touch of fear in us. I was once told the definition of fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Our minds conjure up false evidence and then tells us it is real. Kind of like our media outlets and their news reports.

Fact: if I stick a knife into a live electrical socket, it will shock me. There is no fear of doing it. There is only knowledge and that knowledge is enough to keep me from being an idiot and sticking a knife into a live electrical socket. So, I need not to fear doing it. I just need to be smart.

Fear: I’m not going to be any good at this. I can’t do this. I don’t know where to start, so why try?

Again, let’s pick this apart. Fear #1: I’m not going to be any good at this. Really? You never know until you actually try. Fear #2: I can’t do this. See Fear #1, and with that mentality, of course you can’t do it. Fear #3: I don’t know where to start, so why try? Why not try? There is always some place to start.

Here is the point to all of this: In order to do anything you have to believe you can, you have to be willing to have a dream and then chase it. In order to chase the dream, you have to put a LOT of effort into it (and not some half-hearted try, either). In order to catch that dream, you have to work harder than you ever have before. In order to live that dream, you have to want it. And anything worth wanting is worth working hard for.

I’ve been bad about keeping up my blog (a form of marketing) and my website (another form of marketing) and posting on social media (yet, another form of marketing). I know, I suck. I make no excuses—I think I’ve made enough of those already. What I do want to say is stick around. There is news on the horizon and there is effort …. lots and lots of effort.

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

Passion…

I’ve always thought to be truly good at anything you have to be passionate about it. You have to want it more than you want anything else. Essentially, you can’t do it halfway.

I’ve mentioned in the past how I played a lot of basketball when I was a kid. Though I loved football and baseball as well, I was better at basketball than those other two. I began playing basketball when my friend, Tony, moved in two houses down from us. He was the first black kid I had ever met and we became fast friends. He showed me a place where we could play basketball everyday if we wanted to. It was a gym where there were no other white kids.

(A little caveat, if you will: I had wanted to play basketball before meeting Tony, and we had a goal nailed to a tree in our yard. My dad had shown me how to do a lot of things necessary to play basketball, but at the age of ten, I still wasn’t all that great at any of them. But that is a story for another day.)

It was daunting at first, being the only white kid there. I was called a lot of names that could be considered racist. That didn’t bother me. What did bother me was losing all the time. The first few times I went there, I was humiliated; I was played right out of the gym. I am crazy competitive and losing is a bad thing now, and was a horrible thing back then. One day I stopped going there to play, and started going just to watch. I watched how the older kids played, how they dribbled, the way they shot the ball, the way they passed. I watched the way they played defense. I listened to their trash talk, even as I sat in the bleachers and wasn’t even playing.

I watched.

And I watched some more.

Still, I watched.

I took the things I saw in that gym home with me and practiced them in my backyard. I didn’t say anything or ask for help. I just tried to figure out how this guy could do this and that guy could do that, and holy cow, how did he do what he did?  Then I went back to the gym. I still got beat on a regular basis by the older, more experienced players, but I was beginning to figure out the game and how to score and play defense and how to win.

Eventually, I did win. And I continued to win. The White Boy Cracker became one of them and the derogatory remarks faded all together.

The only reason that happened was because I was passionate about the game of basketball. I worked hard at learning everything I could about it. I worked hard at figuring out how to get better and how to beat my opponents. No one worked harder than I did.

No one.

That leads me to writing. I have often spoke about how I was told by one editor I should never write another story, that I just wasn’t good at it and never would be. It was an insult—and solely his opinion.

I have also mentioned how I queried a publisher once in hopes of having a short story collection put out by them and received a response something like, ‘Are you the A.J. Brown who has stories published here, here and here?’ My response was, ‘Yes, I am.’ To which I never heard back from the publisher.

I’m not going to rehash all of that in detail here, but I will say, just like when I was learning how to play basketball, I stopped writing after both of those interactions, but not because I was giving up. Oh no. It was because I needed to learn more. I needed to become a better writer. In order to do that, I had to get quiet, pay attention, and become passionate about the craft of writing.

I know it is cliche to say writing is a craft, but it really is an art form. I often say writing stories is like writing songs that have no music accompanying them. Again, that is for later.

For now, I need to stress passion. I pour myself into my stories. I don’t write anything I feel is going to suck. If I don’t enjoy writing it, then I stop. Why? Because if I don’t enjoy writing the story, what are the chances you, the readers, will enjoy reading the story? Pretty slim, folks. Pretty slim.

I have a desire. No, it is not a dream, but a desire. That desire is to have readers—and a LOT of them. That desire is to have people want my stories. That’s not a dream. It’s a desire. With that desire comes passion. I am so passionate about writing stories that I don’t do things the way everyone else does. No, that does not make me eccentric. I just don’t think a lot of writing is good these days because everyone is writing the same thing, in the same voice, and in the same way as everyone else.

My passion for writing and getting my name out there is so strong it hurts sometimes. No, that doesn’t mean I am suffering for my craft. That means I want this so bad I can taste it. It means, like when I was a kid and playing basketball in a gym of older, more experienced men, I will not be outworked on this.

Will I ever make millions at writing? Probably not. Making a living writing is one of the hardest things to accomplish. But I bet it would be so rewarding. If I want to make a living doing this or if I want more than the readers I have now, then I have to work at it, and work hard. I am just passionate enough about the written word that I can tell you without doubt, no one will outwork me. My desire, though it is a mountain to climb, is a desire like no dream ever was. My passion…there is no rival to it.

One more thing: it is because of that passion and belief in myself that you should pick up one (or all) of my books. I believe you can read that passion and desire in my words. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. Don’t you want to find out for yourself? If so, follow this LINK. You won’t be sorry.

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

L is for Lazy…

This blog is brought to you by the letter L. Rebel LDoes that take you back? If you know the reference then you, sir or ma’am, might be awesome.

Sesame Street was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up. That and The Price Is Right could keep me entertained all morning. If you have seen the show, then you know that many of the skits on it had to do with that letter (or whatever the number of the day was). In this case we’ll make the number of the day 1. Why, because this is the first blog in a series.

Let me go ahead and apologize right now. Some folks might get upset with some of what I am going to say. If so, well…yeah, it is what it is. Here is something that is a truth about writers: we don’t tend to speak our minds completely when writing our blogs or tweeting or Facebooking. Some of us don’t want to offend readers or other writers, and others of us just don’t care who we offend and sitting in front of a monitor or mobile device makes it easy to be who we are not. Then there are those that have that happy medium, in which they can speak the truth in a manner so eloquent that even if it is offensive it doesn’t come across that way. This is a hard place to get to. Those are the ones who can balance out being real and honest, yet not offend people. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

So, let’s get to this.

L is for Lazy. There. It’s out there. Lazy is defined (as an adjective) as unwilling to work or use energy.

Lazy is often used for someone who just won’t do anything, even if it will benefit that person. Here is another truth: a lot of writers fall into this category. I did not say all, and I did not say a majority of writers. I said a lot of writers fall into this category. If you aren’t one of them, then none of this applies to you. However, if you are one of them, maybe you should listen up.

First, let me clarify something. I am not a well-known writer. I have my fans and I have my roadies and I have folks who may or may not like my work. They may be few (or they may be many, I don’t know), but they are loyal. Since I am not a King or a Koontz or a Patterson you may not want to listen to me. You may not think that what I have to say matters since I am not of the ranks of the masters. If that is the case, just go ahead and click the X in the upper right hand corner. I’ll wait.

Now that everyone is done clicking the X, I hope there are some of you still out there willing to hear me out.

So, you are a writer. Great. So, you have a computer hard drive full of stories. Great. So, you want people to read them. Great. Where are you getting the readers from? The reading pool is dwindling, so where are you getting them? More importantly, how are you getting them?

For the sake of argument, let’s say you get a book published by a publisher. In order to get to that stage, you’ve done a little bit of work already. You’ve written a story. Hopefully, you cleaned it up. You researched the market for a publisher. You submitted it. Then you waited (and that is hard to do). Your story got accepted (Yay You!). Edits were done. I hope you approved or disapproved (some, if warranted) them. Then you approved the cover art, right?

Screeeeek

Stop. Before the book was published did you promote it at all? Did your publisher promote it? Did you tell your friends and family? Did you contact the local newspaper and see if they would do a piece on it? Did you post it on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and…and…and…all of the other social media platforms you could find? Did you try things like Thunderclap? Did you have an online book release party? Did you generate buzz for the book?

You didn’t? Okay. Well, that’s unfortunate, but hey, you can still salvage your sells.

Your book has been published now. How are you promoting it? One post on social media a week? Well, that’s a start. What about blogging? What about a website? What about Facebook groups and author take overs? What about trying to get on podcasts or have interviews done on local radio shows? How about trying the local paper again? What about the library? Many libraries like local authors. How about book conventions or festivals?

Have you done any of these? If not, you’re killing your book, your publisher and your career.

‘But it’s the publisher’s job.’

Well…yes and no. Yes, the publisher should promote and market your book. That is part of how they do business. They should have a marketing plan that goes beyond Facebook. They should also work with you, the author, on this marketing plan so that it fits both parties’ needs. So, yes, it is the publisher’s job.

It is your job as well. Here is why: it is your book and your book will only be as successful as you make it. First you have to write a good book, have it edited (not by yourself), and get it published. But then the work really begins. Promoting your own work is vital to the success of your book, and in turn, you. If you want to leave it up to the publisher to do all of the marketing, go right ahead. Unless your publisher has some big bucks there is a good chance the publisher can only reach so many.

This is where you come in. This is where you cannot be lazy. You have social media. Use it. Don’t spam people, but use social media to post pictures of the cover, links so people can purchase the book, write blogs, not just for you, but for other writers’ blogs. If you just do one thing a day it will help get your name out there and get the book out there.

You think I’m nuts, don’t you? Well, look at it this way: say you want a job, so you go out and you put in an application at one place and then you wait for that one place to call you and say, ‘hey, you’ve got the job.’ Unless your resume is phenomenal and you are great in that field, chances are you’re going to be waiting around for a long while. You either don’t really want a job or you are very confident in yourself. Most of the time it’s the former of the two.

In order to get a job, you’re not just going to put in one application. You’ll put in several and then you will follow up with the jobs that you applied to. Eventually the people at a place of employment is going to say, ‘hey, this person keeps contacting us, maybe they really do want a job.’ By constantly saying, ‘her I am,’ the employers eventually notice you. If you don’t do that, most of them don’t notice you.

If you don’t market your own books, how do you expect readers to find you? If you don’t say, ‘here I am’ how do you expect people to know you have written a book?

Look at it this way: The readers are your employers. You wanCookie monster Lt to get a job with them as their author of choice. You have to put in the application (that would be the story, and getting it published is the resume). Then you have to let them know you are seriously interested in the job. This requires you to do something besides write. This requires you to not sit on the sidelines while the publisher does all of the marketing. Because here are two truths: 1: Some publishers do not market their writers. It’s counterproductive, but it happens more than we think. 2: If the publisher has ten books out, then that publisher is marketing and promoting ten books. If you do the simple math that would be ten percent of their marketing time and promotions goes to your book. If you market your own work, one hundred percent of your time and promotions can go to your book.

But wait, there is more. Don’t just market your work. Get to know the authors under the publisher’s umbrella. Talk to them. Then, once you know each other, promote their work as well. In return, hopefully, they will promote your work. This not only helps you, but it helps other authors and the publisher. The more you, as the author, promote your own work (and others) the better chance you have of getting further along in this business.

But…but…but…that’s a lot of work!

Well, yeah. And this is where L is for Lazy comes into play. You see, so many writers complain about why they aren’t doing well, why their books aren’t selling. What are the other folks doing that I am not? You know, things like that. If you rely solely on the publisher to market you, then you are not doing your share of the work. The publisher can only do so much. You, the writer, have to take control of your work. If you want it to go somewhere you have to grab the bull by the horns and make it go the way you want it to. That isn’t going to happen without saying, ‘hey, here I am. Come read my work.’

This is not a business for lazy folks. It’s a business for hard working people. The lazy need not apply. If you are lazy and you have the mindset of ‘I’m the author, let the publisher and everyone else promote me,’ then please, stop. You’re just hurting yourself and no one really wants to hear the complaining when things don’t go your way.

One more truth before I go: Do you like when someone waste your time? Do you like when you feel like you could have done something better with the time you lost because of someone else? It’s somewhat infuriating, isn’t it? Well, if someone believes in you enough to publish your book and market it, and you do nothing, then you are wasting their time. You are wasting their efforts. And no one likes their time and efforts to be wasted. No one. Not me. Not you. Not the publisher. Not the readers.

I, personally, do not like lazy people. It’s probably my biggest pet peeve. I can’t stomach it. At all. Part of that is because the lazy folks I know tend to blame everyone else for nothing going right for them, when all they had to do was help themselves and use a little bit of energy and things would have gone in a different way.

L is for Lazy. I beg you, if you are of the mindset that you are a writer and not a marketer, please, for your own sake, change that. If you don’t, you will find yourself wondering, ‘why is no one buying my book?’ And you might even blame someone else for this. It’s like being blind to something important—you just won’t see the truth.

I hope some of you stuck around until the end. And if so, I will say what I always say: until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

 

 

 

2016 and A New Set of Goals

 

Dear Faithful Readers,

Happy New Year. Really. Happy New Year. I hope you are well and let’s all look forward to a better year in 2016 than we had in 2015 (even if you had a good 2015). There are a few things I set out to do each year. No, they are not resolutions, they are goals. Last year I wanted to create an author page on Facebook and get at least 100 likes. I wanted to put out at least two books. I wanted to create a better fan base. I wanted to be further along at the end of 2015 than I was at the beginning of it. These were goals I had. For the most part, I achieved them.

I did create an author page on Facebook. At the end of 2015 it had 190 likes. I only put one book out, but if I include Cory’s Way, which was put out at the end of 2014, I kind of achieved that goal. I created a bigger fan base (and even got some Roadies in the mix). I am further along now than I was at the beginning of last year.

Here is where I have to be honest with you all: as much as I’m happy about those things, I’m not happy with where I am at in the publishing world. I was hoping for a more publishers would look at my work (and a couple have) and want to put some of it out. Two publishers for certain are putting out books in 2016 and there is a third interested in a particular storyline, but that one is not concrete yet. And now, I need to be even more honest: I am to blame for not getting the attention I want. Yes, I worked at it a lot over the last few years, (the last two in particular), but not as hard as I could have. This falls on me to do better.

This year I have a couple of loftier goals. They will take a lot of work, but I’m up for the challenge. Are you ready to see the list? Here we go:

  • Promote my work better than I do (very important goal).
  • Write a blog at least once a week.
  • To go with the writing blogs, to get more viewership than 2015. Last year I had 3042 views (or 8.33 views per day) to Type AJ Negative.
  • Double the amount of likes on my FB author page (from 190 to 380).
  • Put out five books this year. Yes, I said five.
  • Write another novel.
  • Finish the Hank Walker Novella, Interrogations (yeah, this is going to be cool).
  • Attend five book promotion functions (festivals, conventions, etc…).

All of those are attainable goals. With a bit of work, they are all doable.

Since one of those is to promote my work better, I think I will go ahead and start that right here, right now with this:

Coming to a device near you (preferably in your hand where you can read it), A Stitch of Madness, a three story collection being released by Stitched Smile Publications on January 6th 2016.

Stitch Cover 3Madness: extremely foolish behavior.

Imprisoned for the murder of his best friend, Johnny Cleary sets out to tell what happened on the day Bobby “Buster” Lennon died, but are the words he writes true or does the deception run deeper.

Madness: the state of being mentally ill, especially severely.

There is something wrong with Irene. Momma’s dead and a ragdoll speaks to her in a voice that is hauntingly familiar. And what about the stitches, the very things that just might hold Irene together?

Madness: a state of frenzied or chaotic activity.

After an odd stranger pays Robert Wallenger a visit, his world begins to unravel and the past comes rushing back, along with a sickly sweet scent.

There is madness in everyone. For most, the madness never surfaces. For others, all it takes is one thing, big or small, for them to spiral out of control.

This is the first of several books I hope to put out this year. If you like my other work, you’ll enjoy A Stitch of Madness.

There is also a Facebook release party, taking place on the 6th. Please come by, enjoy the festivities and contests and interaction with others at A Stitch of Madness Release Party.

Hmmm…that wasn’t so painful. Okay, maybe it was a little painful, simply because it feels weird trying to promote my work. This year is going to be a good year. I hope you come along for the ride and let’s make this the best year ever. Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

A.J.

 

 

 

 

Nothing Worth Doing Is Easy

Nothing worth doing is easy.

Go ahead, beat your head against the desk. I’m wrong, right? I have to be wrong. There are a lot of things that are worth doing that are easy. Okay. Sure. Maybe so, but were they easy to start with?

Riding a bike. Was it easy the first time you hopped up on that two-wheeler and began to peddle? For most of us that answer is no.

How about the first time you drove a car? Was that easy? Maybe for a couple of folks, but for most, probably not. It takes time to learn all the nuances to driving, including always paying attention to your surroundings and the other drivers around you.

Did you ever play sports? Was it easy while you were learning how? Probably not.

Some people are gifted. They don’t have to put forth much effort to accomplish something. But those people are few and far between. Most of us have to work at things to become better, to succeed.

I go back to my opening sentence: Nothing worth doing is easy.

How about I change that a little?

Nothing worth being successful at is easy.

Oh my. I just stirred the hornet’s nest, didn’t I?

To be successful at something, you have to work at it. It’s not going to be easy. Things don’t come naturally for all of us. Most of us have to think things out, come up with a plan and then execute that plan in hopes that things will turn out the way we, well, planned. Often things don’t pan out. That’s life.

The late Jack Curran was known to say, “The road to success is always under construction.”

Curran was a very successful high school basketball and baseball coach for Archbishop Molloy. He coached at AM for 55 years and he knew a little bit about success. He knew that in order to be successful, you had to constantly work at it. Just because you succeed once doesn’t mean you will do so again. Curran knew that as well.

There is another thing that goes with that road to success: starting. You can never be successful if you don’t actually try. You have to start something in order to find out if you can do it. Do you want to be a musician? You have to try an instrument before you can be one. Then you have to find the instrument that fits you. You can’t do that if you don’t first try. Of course, if you don’t try, you can’t fathom success.

Do you want to be an athlete? You have to try a sport to see if you want to pursue it, if it is right for you. If you don’t try, you can’t succeed.

Do you want to own your own business? Yeah, that’s right. You can’t do so unless you look into it and then attempt to do it.

I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to see my work get published. For a long while I didn’t pursue that dream of being a writer. I was nervous. What if no one liked my work? What if it doesn’t sell? What if someone blasted my work? It was daunting, to say the least.

Then when I discovered I might be able to do this after all, I learned it’s a lot of work. It’s not easy. But you know what? By having to work hard at this, when one of my stories gets picked up or someone reviews one of my collections and likes it, it’s that much more rewarding for me for having put in the effort to pursue something I wanted to do.

Let me encourage you–all of you–to chase what dreams you have. Big or small doesn’t matter. If you want to be successful at something, you have to first try it and then pursue it and then keep working at it. Nothing worth doing is easy. Nothing worth being successful at is easy. And, as Jack Curran would say, the road to success is always under construction.

So get to work, get to paving that road.

Until we meet again, my friends…

It’s Not Easy Being A Writer…

For those who follow this blog of gray walls and black words and a little blood spatter here and there, then you know that recently I have been on a Terrible Minds kick. I preface this piece letting you, the readers, know about Chuck Wendig’s blog titled, 25 Things A Writer Should Stop Doing. If you want to read Mr. Wendig’s post covering these 25 things, then follow the previously posted link (preferably after you finish reading this post).

His words are on the money—all 25 pieces of advice holds water better than a bucket on a rainy day. Every couple of days I go back to this post and read it and each time I think, ‘man, he is so right on this and that… oh and that, too.’

So tonight, after having read the article yet again, I want to tackle another of Wendig’s nuggets of advice. This one may be one of the top five:

Stop Thinking It Should Be Easier

It’s not going to get any easier, and why should it? Anything truly worth doing requires hella hard work. If climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro meant packing a light lunch and hopping in a climate-controlled elevator, it wouldn’t really be that big a fucking deal, would it? You want to do This Writing Thing, then don’t just expect hard work — be happy that it’s a hard row to hoe and that you’re just the, er, hoer to hoe it? I dunno. Don’t look at me like that. AVERT YOUR GAZE, SCRUTINIZER. And get back to work.

There are two types of people—and no, I don’t care what anyone else says about it. There are those who work and there are those who are lazy. Period. Sure, you can say there is an in between, but honestly, there isn’t. You either work or you don’t. Whether that is at a job or at an artistic endeavor or at being a housewife or househusband (yes, there is such a thing), its still work. For those who make an honest living out there, I commend you and thank you. For those who don’t, well… unless you have a legit reason, you and I may not get along that well.

[[Side Note: With today’s economy being in the suckage hole, please understand that I’m not referring to those people who had jobs and lost them of no fault of their own. I’m referring to those folks who would prefer to sit on the sofa watching soaps all day and not out looking for a job and probably haven’t held one in a while because they’re lazy and prefer for folks that do work to pay their way. End Side Note]]

We live in a world of entitlement these days, a world where people think things should be handed to them instead of having to work for them. Those folks–those entitled folks–make me want to punch something… oh wait, they make me want to punch them.

Enough talk of violence. I’ll just punch someone in one of my stories…

Writing is not easy. Okay, maybe the writing part is somewhat easy. It’s everything else that isn’t. And, if you want to become a published writer everything is ten times harder. (Oh, I see those out there saying, ‘it’s not so difficult for me.’ Fine. Then you are the blessed half percentile.)

You have to:

First write the story
Edit
Re-write
Edit some more
Re-write again
Edit, yet again
Re-write
Proofread (ah, you thought I would say edit again, didn’t you?)
Research markets (often meaning you have to purchase a few books/magazines to garner an idea of what they like)
Find the right market for your work
Read the submissions guidelines (and hope they make sense)
Format the manuscript
Write the query letter/submission letter
Oh, wait, you better proof that story again
Make changes yet again
Make sure you formatted the manuscript right since you made changes
Don’t forget to change the word count
Attach the file (or send it via snail mail)
Press Send
Then wait
Wait some more
Still waiting, are you?

And that’s just for a short story.

That doesn’t even touch on sending out a novel, which involves so much more, including finding an agent, writing a really good query letter and synopsis of the novel and finding someone else to edit and proofread the manuscript. Oh, and the long waiting period…

If you are a writer, then you better be prepared to work for it. No writer gets anywhere by being lazy.

What if one of your short stories gets picked up? Well, you can’t just sit on it, can you? No. You have to tell the world about your publication. You have to let everyone share in your success. Do you have Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Anybeat? Guess what? You have to go shout it from the rooftops on these various social platforms. It’s kind of like those kids back in the old days that would stand on street corners selling newspapers:

EXTRA, EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT. MR. WORKSHARDALOT HAS A STORY PUBLISHED. EXTRA, EXTRA.

Go ahead, laugh, but it’s true. No one gets anywhere in this business without spreading the news. Also, word of mouth goes a long way. If you post a link to your story or where to buy it and someone sees it and likes the story, then chances are, they will repost it on their social media platform of choice. By doing so, the word spreads that Mr. Workshardalot wrote a good story and, by golly, you should check it out.

Do you have a blog and have 18 followers, as I do? Hey, that number has gone up recently. If so, then you need to post on your blog that Mr. Workshardalot made a sell and be proud of it. And don’t just throw that blog up without editing it and making sure it reads right and making sure any applicable links, italics, bolds and videos and images show up in the PREVIEW section. Yes, more work.

Promoting and marketing may seem easy, but after posting on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace (if you still have one of those dinosaurs), Google+, Anybeat and any number of writer forums you may belong to, as well as posting to your blog (which, by the way, you will want to post links to it at all those previously mentioned social networking sites) you will realize that you spent quite a few hours on that ‘easy’ task.

And this is all for one short story acceptance.

But, wait, I’m not done yet? Do you think your story will be accepted to the first place you sub it to? More likely than not, it won’t. More than likely you will have to submit that story to various places until some editor finds it worthy of their publication. That’s finding sometimes multiple markets to submit to.

There is also work that must be done after the acceptance and before the story comes out. There is the contract to read over–and make sure it sounds right in your ears. There is the editors edits that you have to go over and either make the changes or choose not to (but, be wary if you choose not too). There are proofs that need to be… well, proofed.

Being a writer is easy. Being a published writer is hard work. It takes dedication. It takes determination. It takes the epidermis of the largest elephant you have ever seen and maybe the tusks, as well.

Back when I first started out (which was only a few short years ago), it took me over a hundred rejections before I received my first acceptance. Did you get that? It took over a hundred submissions before someone thought one of my stories was worth publishing. At the time I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. People will know my name and people will want to read my stuff and I can become famous and… oh, shut-up already.

I had no clue what it took to get my name out there. It’s a LOT of work. I wasn’t part of any social networks at the time and I was fairly bad at writing. Bad. Bad… Awful…

Thanks to some well timed advice I began to learn about writing, about how to write and about social networking (though I’m still working on that part). I had to work at it. Work. Work. Work.

Writing is fun–it is only second to one activity of the things I enjoy most. But, it’s a lot of work and if you think you can just waltz in here and start getting published without working for it, well, you better think again.

Before I go, let me add one thing to all of this work oriented talk. When you sit down to write, enjoy the process, enjoy learning about your characters and how they react to what is happening to them, enjoy letting the story unfold. If you enjoy the process of writing, it makes all the work well worth it.

Now, do you still think you want to be a writer? If so, get to work…