Ducks on a Pond

I’m what I would classify as a binge writer. All my life I have heard that you have to write everyday. That advice has depressed me, because my lifestyle doesn’t allow that to happen. Further, I have to immerse myself into a project before I can do what I consider a good job. So I commit long weekends, Christmas and Spring breaks and summer months to my serious writing projects.

During the school season, I have traditionally written short stuff–short stories, mainly–and in the past year, focused on trying to build up a following on Twitter. I heard somewhere that if you are going to independently publish, the best places to promote yourself are on Twitter and Facebook. What’s interesting is that I am discovering that every other person who has written a book, or started writing a book, or dreamed of writing a book, is doing the same thing. As I add friends, I come across writers in every conceivable genre, at every conceivable level, trying to hawk their wares.

This is both disconcerting and refreshing. Disconcerting because I see how much competition there is in the marketplace for people’s attention. Refreshing because the atmosphere, for the most part, is not one of competition, but of cooperation. I have gotten a great deal of help with understanding what works in indie publishing either by reading other people’s blogs or by asking people outright the question that is in my head. What’s fun is that I am now able to help other people as well in the same way, even though I have been doing this for less than 9 months.

There’s a lot of information out there, some of it good, much of it misleading, about getting your books published and finding customers. I find it pretty much like anything else on the Internet: you have to sift through the information and determine for yourself what is cool and what is crap. That being said, here are a few bits of advice I have determined through a combination of experience, good and bad, and advice from others:

* A good cover is worth its weight in gold. Don’t overpay, but invest in someone who will treat you right. You will be surprised the difference it makes.

* Don’t underestimate the value of professional editing. It’s your reputation, after all.

* There are many roads to the same goal of book marketing. Use trial and error to find out what works for you.

* To add Twitter followers, find someone who writes books like yours, and start adding their followers.

* Make friends on Twitter. Have fun. Be sociable.

* Write professionally. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

In the movie, “The Replacements,” Gene Hackman’s character uses the analogy of being a duck on a pond. On the surface, everything looks great. But beneath the surface, everyone is paddling like crazy. That’s me. That’s also everyone else I talk to on Twitter.

My final bit of advice is this: Find out what works for you, and stick to it. Writing is not about making money. It’s about sharing ideas. Share those ideas, and regardless of how many readers you have, you will be a success.