I have good news and bad news. The good news is that it only takes one book to earn you the title of published author and all of the benefits thereof. The bad news is: One book isn’t enough.
However, back to the good news, you are an artist and the most important process you are involved in is creating. Then creating more.
Market-Write Tip #1: Create a body of work.
The first thing a body of work gives you is authority.
And, in business terms, consumer confidence. Keep in mind for many authors, their first consumer is a potential agent or publisher. Having works published via literary journals, winning contests, and magazine publications are all part of the resume to garner attention and recognition.
The second point to continual creation is the mastering of the craft.
Every author wants to create a break-out first-time novel. For example The Book Thief is praised as a “sensational debut novel,” when in fact this is Markus Zusak’s 4th published book. On his website, Zusak’s primary writing goal is “I’m always trying to write a better book than the last one. I want to grow with every book.” Authors, like every artist, clarify their voice and perfect their craft first and foremost through creation.
There are certain artist who strive for fame, musicians in particular, like the legendary band Kiss who set out from the start to become rock stars. One of the many marketing tools they utilized was to aggressively create and release new albums, even early on. Before Kiss really “hit it big” they released 4 albums in less than 3 years. Kiss’s commercial success came with their live double album, something that was only possible with a backlog of original music. This live album was recorded in Detroit, Cleveland, Wildwood, and Davenport – not in giant arenas. However, the release gave the impression of longevity and stardom, just what they needed to gain the necessary momentum into mainstream popularity.
These days, there is considerable on-line conversation about how quickly authors are required to have new works completed. Nora Roberts is setting a terrible example* with over 200 completed novels and still writing! Another prolific novelist, Chuck Wendig, repeatedly asserts in all of his blogs and books about writing: write everywhere. Write blogs and guest blogs; write articles, for literary journals, print and on-line publications; write books and more books. Then write again. The blog “It Takes the Time it Takes” talks about how many novels he wrote before he was published (6) and how many novels he’s written in the last two years (10). If you aren’t offended by profanity, take a look at his insights at Terribleminds.com.
Personally, I do not write words fast enough to keep up with his pace. (Writing fast or slow is each writer’s preference.)There are many other successful novelists who do not as well. However, a novelist is one who writes novels. So if you consider yourself a novelist, you must keep writing.
The fact is marketing without a product gets you nowhere.
Additionally, one product, or in this day and age – one format, does not make you an expert. Some folks live on the hope that when a product is particularly good, it sells itself. While it’s true, if you create exceptional work, the selling is much easier, JK Rowling proved to us all with her pseudonym-written detective novel that a good book needs a name, or at least a face, to sell it as well. No matter how good the words look in print.
I talk a lot about talking about your art. I believe you have to make time to create a platform and market yourself and your words, but none of that matters if you don’t put creation first.
So, go on, create.
*I’m just joking about Nora Robert’s example being terrible. I would never tell a writer to not write. How much creating have you done today? Do you make creation goals? What have you learned from your own creation experience?
Bio: By day Mardra Sikora balances a patchwork of community, advocacy, work and family. Also by day she writes. You can find her life and stories via blog and Facebook, and her favorite hangout, Twitter.