Writing When What I Should Be Doing is Writing
I sat down with a little time to spare this morning and tried to figure out what I should be doing. Relax? Heck no! Spare time is time that should be filled with something productive, after all. My options were more studying for a certification I’m working towards or I could do some writing on my current work in progress, The Broken Path (book 3 in my Blades of Leander fantasy series). The Broken Path scares me a little though. In the three days since I officially started it I’ve thrown down over 15,000 words on it. For my non-writing readers, that’s a considerable amount.
So rather than leaping into another feverish and obsessive writing spree I decided I should write about writing instead. Thus I’m here, tossing words on a screen for this blog. It’s not a waste of time, provided I’ve entertained or educated someone out there, but it may also not be as productive as working on the story. But that’s okay.
I’ve read some interviews or viewpoints from some writers that say writers shouldn’t blog. They think they should spend time writing, not doing activities that takes away from that. Others, including myself, have argued that it can be creatively helpful to write up a blog post to get the juices flowing and make a transition into working on the next great story that much easier. Then there’s some people that think blogging is essential to the success of a writer because it allows them to interact with readers and promote / market themselves.
Well I’m all for marketing and promotion. I suck at it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a firm believer that people can’t buy what they don’t know about. I have to take a page out of the book I’m reading right now (Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography) where he talks repeatedly about how his movies and his career was a success because of how much marketing he personally did for them. Internationally, no less. The man went as many places as he could to push his movies and convince distributors and theatres to show them, as well as working with the movie studios on the promotional campaigns for them. One example is Total Recall (the movie, not the book, and not the recent movie with Colin Farrell). The original trailers sucked for it and nobody was interested because it hadn’t been promoted worth a darn. Arnold was upset about that and arranged to get the head of the studio to watch an advanced screening with him 3 weeks out from release date. The guy was blown away by the film and disgusted by what his people were doing to promote it. They brought in an outside firm and in those three weeks boosted the public interest so much that Total Recall was one of the highest selling blockbusters that year. Had it not been for that promotion it still would have been a good movie, but hardly anybody would have known about it.
So is promotion and marketing important? Hell yes. The vast majority of us don’t have the budget to invest to achieve that kind of success though. Instead flukes like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight somehow become viral through chance. Or maybe, like John Locke, they’ve got some hidden secret they figured out that was just right for the time when they hit it big, granting them the opportunity to skyrocket into the stars. Mr. Locke’s secret isn’t so secret anymore, he bought tons of reviews for his books when they came out, boosting them in the charts and convincing people that they were great books. To his credit, his books continue to sell and I don’t hear about too many people that say his books are poorly written. Apparently the ends justifies the means in this case.
So will blogging help me reach that level? I doubt it. It’s a fun thing to do and it helps me ramp up my productivity though. Maybe it helps other writers, readers, and random people from all walks of life too. What I can say is that I have had very few readers reach me via my blog. My feedback with readers almost always comes through email, and that’s not an infrequent thing. I respond to them all and enjoy doing so – with some conversations taking place back and forth for a few days. But those readers always tell me about the books and the characters they enjoyed, they don’t mention how my blog was a wonderful thing for them to find and enjoy.
Instead I’ll keep on trying different things and doing what I can to build my brand. I’ve found that writing a large number of books definitely helps. Kind of like salmon fishing with six lines in the water at once instead of sitting on a dock with a fishing pole in my hand – the more opportunities there are for people to find me, the better my odds are. But that’s still not much better than tossing darts while blindfolded. What I’m ultimately trying to find is a way to shine a light on my books and let people know where they are and that yes, they really are a great book.
To prove my point I just read a five star review this morning from someone about Bounty and my Wanted trilogy in general where they said, “I’m not recommending that you buy these books, I’m tell you that you must buy these books!” That’s the kind of feedback I’m getting from people and that’s why I believe that my books are worth reading.
To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.