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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Controlling Turns the Tables

I just finished reading all the various and sundry ways to apply the word control.  I won't take up this entire post with the numerous definitions, but I will tell you what I came away thinking about this much-used and possibly misused word as it applies to my life as a writer.

Back when I first started writing for real (as opposed to writing to prove I couldn't) I kept it a closely guarded secret.  I told no one, not even my husband, who knows everything about me if he chooses to listen to my free-flowing self-revelations.  I think I wanted to conceal my activity so there would be no need for excuses when it came to a disappointing halt.  I left myself an easy out--nobody would get hurt when I put down the smoking keyboard and chose to walk away, guilty of the demise of yet another floundering story-line.

But that didn't happen, obviously.  Five books later, I'm still writing and now I'm willing to tell the world about it.  Still, I've kept a tight rein on how I told the world.  I chose to self-publish because I made the decision that my work would never be picked up by an agent and certainly not by a publisher.  It's too long, not the most popular genre, my characters are not the typical brooding business tycoon and down-on-her-luck beauty queen, or alternatively the rocker bad boy and repressed geek girl.  I chose instead to throw my babies to the wolves, in hopes of getting a little feel for what readers, should there be any, thought about my sweet little red-haired violinist and my practical,/mystical farm girl.  Control over readers is not a thing anyone gets, but seeing instantly if and when a book sold, who posted a review, where I placed my random promotions, and when the pennies dropped into my bank account gave me a sense of having the upper hand.
 

My safe little corner!
Funny thing about that.  The upper hand has taken control of me. While I'm still selling and hearing nice things from readers, the work of promoting and the frustration of being out of my element when it comes to selling myself is taking its toll.  I sometimes wish my writing were still a well-kept secret, that I was still hidden away at my little desk, free from the sense of responsibility I now feel to these books.  They've been well-enough received that I want to see them do even better, reach more readers.  But if I spend all day worrying about how and where to sell them, I won't get any more written, and amazingly, I think I have more to write!

It may be time to change the game plan.  I admit I need help, support, and probably some form of intervention to break the routine that's fragmenting my focus between writing and selling.  I would  still want to be closely involved with the books, their content and promotion, and I would never relinquish the direct contact with readers, but I think I'm ready to share some of the decisions with someone who can take a more business-like (and less parental) approach.  That said, I'm waiting for a sign, just as my favorite farm girl would advise, to point me to the next step.  Keep your fingers crossed, will you, that I recognize it when it lands in front of me?

4 comments:

  1. I hear you Karen! Enjoy reading your post, and can identify with the struggle to keep on top of the business end of things while doing what it takes to be the kind of writer and do the kind of writing I like to do. While writers with agents who publish with a publisher still have to deal with the business and marketing end, there is more support...or so it seems.

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    1. Finding balance and a comfort zone as far as self-promotion goes are the goals of the moment for me. Every writer today faces a mountain range of challenges in this rapidly changing industry, but those of us who come without a clue about how things work have to learn fast to keep up. Still, it's the act of putting words on paper and watching the story develop that brings the real joy.

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  2. Self promotion is a full time job, whether with a publisher or on your own. It is nice to have someone in your corner, though to help. I don't think you have much to worry about Karen. Your writing speaks for itself and I see nothing but great things in your future.

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    1. Thanks for all your support, Jennifer! It means so much to find talented people who are willing to share the journey.

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