Day two of the 500 words challenge. One of the immediate benefits from doing this is that I joined a Facebook support group for the challenge and have already had contact from other writers. That alone is worth the challenge.
As I have said, writing 500 words a day is not my challenge as I already write far more. It's more about writing this blog for you guys, and the challenge again is not in the quantity of words but in the quality of what I write. Usually I write a blog once a week or so (scuffs toes in the dirt - yes I know it can be longer than that) and I have a subject to write about. Mostly that subject is me.
But I can't write about me every day for the next thirty-one days, you all will get bored and leave me – plus that would mean thinking of thirty-one, twenty-nine now, things about me that will make a blog post. So my challenge is choosing a different topic each day. The Facebook page has a list of ideas and I will be using them I am sure before this challenge is over. It also has many posts from braggers (no not really but, you know, I'm on day two) on day 478 or so. Ok guys, let me catch up a bit!
Well sorry if today – and just remembered word count and I should do this in word so I’ve just moved you all to Word. Huh, 233 words. Back to my thought process; sorry if today you were hoping for a different subject. Today the subject is me, the next blog post I was going to do anyway. Tomorrow I’ll choose something random I promise! Like one of those radio shows where they are given a topic and have to improvise for three minutes or so. Except written and not spoken. And not as amusing, or as immediate.
Today I’m talking about writing. Not about the challenge or the blog but about writing seriously for a living. Because it’s me and I want to make a living from books I’m talking about writing books.
When you start out writing you can access a whole slew of articles giving advice on writing, and books also. The books tend to give general and good advice on writing while the articles often focus on how to build a strong social media platform. You need your Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, you should have a YouTube channel and write a blog and guest write on other blogs. In short, you should spend so much time on building your social media platform that your actual writing time has to be compromised.
Once you’ve been going along for a while you start to realise that a great deal of this advice is out of date. Yes, a few years ago it was good advice, so good that loads and loads of writers took it. Now the market is saturated with writers, good bad and indifferent. How can you the reader possibly tell from all of these which ones to follow, which ones you will enjoy reading?
I have a Twitter account and I’ve cheated somewhat by having my Facebook post for me. I have followers, I don’t know how many and I follow people. And you know on that Twitter feed I have mostly dross and rubbish. I hardly ever go and look at it, I have to scroll through so much rubbish to find anything interesting. So I have very little faith in Twitter as a platform to build my brand.
I have an Instagram account and I post the odd picture there. I always get likes from people named #get100000followersbydoingthis or something like that. So I don’t have a lot of faith in that either. I have never gone onto Pinterest and I don’t have a YouTube channel. Someone will buy my books from listening to me rabbit on about them? I find that hard to believe, mostly that anyone would even find my channel.
I do have an author page and a Sabrina Street Cat page on Facebook. That would be great if Facebook didn’t severely limit the reach of ‘business’ pages to around 4 or 5% of people who liked it. You want to reach everyone who thought you were worth reading? Well come along and pay our massively wealthy corporation to ‘boost’ your post to those people.
So none of these things really work now. I’m coming to think that the only way to make a living from writing these days is to write, write, write. Write book after book after book and self-publish it. You may be lucky to find a traditional publisher who will take a chance on you, but just like television, publishers go with the tried and true or the socially famous (Kim Kardashian selfie book?).
The more books you have the more findable you are on Amazon and other eBook stores. You can use CreateSpace to give the option of paper back for those who do not like using a Kindle device. Don’t waste precious writing time keeping up with all your social media. Don’t try to use them all. Maybe for you Twitter is brilliant and if so use it. Use whatever form of social media you enjoy.
For me that is Facebook and this blog. I love writing this blog, I love that you all keep coming here to read me. I’m dirty on Facebook for limiting my posts but I’m going to keep on with it because I enjoy building those author pages. And I’m not on social media to tell you all to buy my books (but buy my books!). I’m here to share myself with you, to give to you my readers a part of myself and hopefully to connect with you.
The final thing I was thinking was about those people who used social media back when it was much easier to get an audience and when you didn’t have to buy one. Some of those people have ridiculously high numbers of followers, like in the hundreds of thousands. I follow a few of them myself. But I wonder, how many of those, even with their hundreds of thousands of followers, have made the transition to serious author?
Well I have no idea. I can only speak for the ones I have read and the ones I follow. How many of them? None. Only the ones that were already successful authors have made it and they already had so they don’t count. Of the others, and remember this is my own observation and is based only on the ones I have seen, not one has made it as an author.
Yes, they still have their bazillions of followers who hang off their every word. They write regularly, for free, for these followers. But are they published, even self-published? No. Have they written a book even? No. Why? What are they waiting for? I read one who was talking about how he was still waiting to be approached by a publisher with a nice fat advance to write his book. Pretty sure that will not happen. Maybe it did in the past, maybe with other bloggers/Facebook page owners/whatever, but not so likely today.
Yes I did see one who as part of a group of Facebook page owners wrote a book and got it published. And they did quite well because between them they have a fan base of probably millions. But what if she writes a book on her own, not one comprised of hers and the others’ status updates, but one all on her own? Well she hasn’t done that. Not to say that she won’t and that if she does it won’t be wildly successful. It probably would. But she hasn’t.
Again – disclaimer- I am talking ONLY from my own observations. I have no doubt that there are successful authors who got their start from Facebook or blogging. But I haven’t seen any. I’ve only seen the ones who are waiting for it to happen. The lesson to me there is don’t believe your own publicity. Write that book, don’t be distracted by social media to the point of not actually writing your book. You may be a huge star on social media, but that does not make you famous elsewhere. And that does not write your book.
Now, if you know people who have made their millions in books from their start on their Facebook pages or Twitter or whatever that’s great. Like I said I’m sure it happens. But I think it happened more often a few years ago and is far less likely now. So I’m going to do what my instinct is telling me to do. I’m going to write and write and write. I know I can write a full length novel in three weeks, I’ve done it. I know too that they will not all write themselves like Letters did.
So first up I’m going to self-publish Letters, I’ll post here more about that as I get it ready. Then I’m going to continue on with the second in the Defender series and get that published. After that will come the next book from Letters, a spin off if you will focusing on the main character Cassie’s best friend. It became apparent to me while writing Letters that Saffron also has a story to tell. Then it will be on with the third book in the Defender series. Along the way I have to find out more about how to get the shelter book written in a way that will appeal to publishers and also not forgetting the adult colouring book.
And I will continue to write this blog daily. So come see me here every day. I can’t guarantee the time of day and in any case you all are spread all across the world. But I will post daily and if I’m not going to for any reason I will let you know the day before.
1 681 words. Quantity was never my struggle, quality – well you can judge that. See you here tomorrow, probably different time but same place J