Over fifteen years ago, I started a second career as a writer. I found almost overnight, however, that the knowledge of marketing and promotion I acquired over a lifetime had become dated, overshadowed by the new world of the internet. As I learned about both publishing and the uses of cyberspace, I made a lot of wrong turns, detours and false starts. In an effort to spare you that bumbling approach, I’m sharing what I learned on this site–an overview of the writing a publishing field. While volumes have been written about these topics by others, I’m sticking to the basics, to help get you started,or unstuck if you don’t know what to do next, to advance your writing and publishing career. I learned about the new publishing industry. In addition to this more structured approach, I have a also continued my general interest Designing Man blog, directed to readers and writers, which I have been writing for over ten years. Here you’ll find news of special events, publishing industry news and book reviews and personal views on the passing scene.
Since new writers, whether young or older, find it extremely difficult to get a literary agent and a big publisher these days, they are often in a quandary: What to do? Shall I cave in and put the darned thing (which is what, you’re now calling your masterpiece) on Amazon, hoping someone will notice it, or what? Some keep writing and submitting doggedly, year after year, hoping to break through, and a few of the most vocal or most brilliant do get the attention of agents and publishers. Others give up entirely. But thew rest of us can’t stop writing and still want to get published. Like me, they are impatient to get started. y irrepressible urge to get started led me down a different, if just as tortuous, path to publication.
I had already done all the right things: I took courses in creative writing, blogged, sent e-mail newsletters and kept on writing and continued submitting on my first book. But perhaps, more important than these measures, I joined local writing groups: St. Louis Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime and St. Louis Publishers Association. Each literary society, in its own way, filled in my ignorance of a huge and growing publishing industry. I learned it is located, not only in the great publishing houses of New York, London, Toronto and Sydney, but in newspaper offices. homes, internet companies and tiny studios worldwide, like my own cave in the basement of our house. Total results from my first five years’ efforts: a Certificate in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, a completed manuscript and a fat file containing sixty-seven form rejection letters.
As an architectural businessman with a successful track record, keeping work flowing into the firm for our architectural-engineering teams to perform, I knew something had to be done. With all this time expended, prolific output and the constant “drip-drip-drip” of trickle-out expenses . Despite my limiting expenditures, the absence of income from my so-called “new business” meant something had to change. Luckily, through a longtime friend and business associate, I obtained a consulting contract related to my former field to stave off the financial drain for those first five years. But as my time was increasingly devoted to writing, promoting and seeking publication, the central problem remained: how do I convert all of this imagination, effort and output into positive cash flow?
Getting published, whether traditional, small independent or self-publishing, is a huge topic in an environment which changes continuously. Recently a colleague, Larry Froncek, who successfully builds his database of reader-followers on a website called Voracious Readers Only, by touting free review copies of new books, asked me if I would contribute names of consultants and writing advisors I had met, I had a brainstorm.
I told Larry, “If you are interested in broadening your base of expertise beyond readers in this area, the Rolodex approach sounds promising. However, just providing the contact information may be inadequate to explain to people what they need to know about self-publishing and publishing in general before you contact a certain resource, and what to ask before even consulting the Rolodex database. I believe I could provide new information to thousands of self-publishers and writers who potentially make up a very large market, although a different, partly overlapping market from your original one of Voracious Readers.” Larry encouraged me, and promised to link to my blog and promote it to his growing readers and writers. WE did collaborate for a while, and I picked up some additional website followers with the help of his list-building technique.
So here goes! It will take some planning, more writing and integrating a dozen years of experience. All this work has led to e publication and re-publication of five books I have written and published. Join me, subscribe today free,, and let us venture together into this fascinating, ever-changing topic with you. In the next chapter, I begin my agenda of topics, including the craft of writing, the broad variety of consultants available for writers,the role of writers groups, types of publishers. Then, once you are publishes, how to get noticed (discoverability), the art of publicity, the new wave of social networking, marketing, both traditional and online, and promotion. All the while, we need to keep our eyes on the prize: sales and distribution, the ultimate goal of the writer.
I’ll see you back here next time. In between, as an Irish relative of mine used to say, bash on, regardless!
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