If you are a writer, raise your hand if you feel the pressure to rush your process and just get those books out.
(my hand is raised and I know yours are too!)
There are so many factors to this rush:
- bills are piling up
- so many of your writing friends are releasing books in quick succession
- you keep hearing this is the only way to get noticed (ie. 90 day window)
- any other number of reasons to feel like you’re missing out
Can I say something that might be against the norm?
Stop. Slow down. Don’t panic.
I know, I know, easy enough to say, but hard to accomplish, right?
I’ve been there, in your shoes when I saw my income going down and my bills piling up. When I would hear of others talk about their numbers and stepped back so no one would notice me and ask how I was doing. When I would visit different FB writing groups and the advice was to write/publish/repeat as fast as you can in order to increase your visibility.
Every time I would hear this, something inside of me would twist and not in a good way.
What about placing our readers first? What about remembering that promise we’ve made that we will write the best book possible for them? What about the experience we want our readers to feel?
If we rush to write our books, if we don’t take the time to really focus on the story, if we don’t write the best possible story we can — we’re risking breaking that promise to our readers.
To me, that’s not worth it.
Now, before you start throwing tomatoes at me (I’m allergic so that wouldn’t be nice), let me say that I realize some writers are amazingly fast and because they can write quickly, they are able to get the proper editing and therefore can actually publish one book every month, or every other month or within that 90 day window.
But…and this is a big but…the majority of us aren’t like that.
I’m about to get honest with you all…for years I was only focused on the marketing and branding of my books. I got caught up in the hustle and bustle and loved being able to write what I wanted, when I wanted and put it out as fast as I could. I had someone proofread them, I had a few beta readers but that’s about as far as I went. I didn’t focus on my craft, I didn’t spend the time ensuring I wrote the best book possible.
Don’t get me wrong. My books were good. They sold. I got contracts. I won awards. But my books were good. Not great. Not deep. Not anything special. I didn’t write the kind of story that others said were beautifully written or that others said they wanted to write like that.
I remember having a huge light bulb moment when I read a book by Kimberly Belle and I wrote my agent and said ‘you have to read this. Her writing is amazing. I want to write like this!’. You know what her reply to me was?
So why don’t you?
I wasn’t writing like that because I wasn’t giving my story the time it needed to be written like that. I was rushing. I had a huge list of everything I’d wanted to do and accomplish and taking time with my books meant none of that could get accomplished.
I wasn’t thinking about my readers. I was only thinking about me.
So I stopped. I slowed down. I focused on my books. I took courses through Margie Lawson. I focused on learning how to write in a way that would leave my readers breathless. It took time but my editors started to notice, my readers started to react and I knew I was finally on the right path.
I get it. I really do. If writing is your career, how you pay the bills, then the more product you have available for people to buy, hopefully you’ll start seeing the sales and be able to take care of your family.
What if you stop focusing on the sales
and focus on your readers instead?
Would that be so bad?
If all you’re doing is focusing on sales, you’re eventually going to lose your readers. You can blame it on the market, on the abundance of books available, on the low visibility…you can find any number of reasons to blame the low sales but maybe the real reason is you’re losing your readers…because you haven’t focused on them.
It’s just a thought.
I’m constantly being asked if I had one piece of advice for writers, what would it be. This is what I say:
Stop focusing on sales and focus on your readers.
- Take the time needed to write the best possible story
- Challenge yourself to write a better book each time you start a new project
- SLOW DOWN
- Start thinking about how to utilize your backlist to find new readers
Excellent advice, Steena.
I love this, Steena. It’s hard to figure out how to do this, especially early in my career, but thank you for this reminder that if I keep putting the story first, others will notice. I am NOT a fast writer, and I know this about myself, and often feel that pressure of “how do I get faster”? I think I need to do that a little bit, and I expect I will get faster as I get better as a storyteller (and break my stories less often), but it’s also good to hear someone say that speed isn’t everything. You can be successful without turning out stories every one to three months.
Thank you for sharing.
I hear you! It really is hard sometimes to slow down when you already feel so behind, but it will be worth it.