#IndispensableWritingBooks Write, Publish Repeat and the Five Things Neccessary for a Writing Career
Write, Publish, Repeat is indispensable because it is the one book on this list that is going to help you determine if you have the right stuff to be a professional writer.
By “The right stuff,” I very much do not mean talent. I am not entirely sure that talent is even a thing that exists, and I am all but entirely convinced that it isn’t something that has much of an impact on whether you can build a career.
If you have listened to their Self Publishing Podcast—and if you haven’t, you should—you will know that Sean Platt and Joihnny B. Truant have a tendency to get a bit rambly. This book is no exception. If that, or their tendency to use the occasional four letter word, or their tendency to self promote by using their own works as examples bothers you, you should get over it and read the damn thing anyway.
In this book, Johnny and Sean delineate X traits that professional writers should have. The book—and this post—is geared to self-publishers but most of what they have to say is going to apply to those seeking the traditional route.
A Work Ethic: If you want to build yourself a career as a writer, you’re going to have to work your butt off. It would be nice to think that you could write something and have it be recognized as a work of sublime genius, but the reality is that it takes a hell of a lot of work before you can get your storytelling skills to the point where you are able to craft a readable narrative, let alone a work of genius. And once you have created your work of marginal acceptability, it takes a ton of work to get it ready for publication. And once it is published, the work is not done. There is more work on the next book because there is ALWAYS a next book, and there is work to be done in marketing the first book.
Consistency: Closely related to the work ethic, consistency is simply the ability to show up day in and day out and produce words. They don’t even really have to be quality words. They certainly don’t have to be quality words as judged by you when you’re writing them. The fact of the matter is that when you’re creating words, you are in no position to judge. In a similar vein, there are those who can produce a large volume without writing consistently, but in surveying the landscape of successful self publishers, we find that consistency is an incredibly common trait.
Professionalism: This is, in fact, the first thing that Platt and Truant really tackle in the book, and that’s because it is simultaneously the easiest and the most important thing to discuss. If you are not willing to put in the effort to make your books look professional, you really shouldn’t even bother trying to start a career. This doesn’t just mean that your book needs to be the best book it can be. It means the book needs to be edited as well as possible, and that means you need someone else’s eyes on it. It means that the book needs to have a good cover. It means that the book needs to have all the front and back material done to professional standards. For that matter, it means that the book has to be formatted to professional standards. And it means that the ad copy for the book has to be up to professional standards, which is a lovely segue into the next topic.
Marketing: You’re going to have to do some. This, in particular, is one of those things that you are going to have to do whether you are self published or traditionally published. I’m not the one saying that. Johnny and Sean aren’t the ones saying that. The ones saying that are the hordes of traditionally published writers who are out there pimping their stuff. So if you don’t think that you could ever market something, you don’t even really want to think about becoming a writer.
The thing is, marketing isn’t evil. If done well, marketing isn’t even annoying. At its most basic level, marketing is just letting people know about something that they might want to buy. There isn’t a single reader in the world who ever has enough books, so there are going to be plenty of people who might want to read your book. Even in ridiculously small sub genres, there’s a readership looking to be served.
A Long Term Outlook: Johnny and Sean talk a lot about the difference between tactics and strategies. Strategies are the long term principles that guide the things we do every day, and tactics are the things we do every day. A writing career is not going to be built overnight. It is in its very essence, a long term play so you cannot succeed at it by adopting short term tactics. You must look at the long term. You must plan for the long term. This means you have to plan on getting a lot of books out. Johnny and Sean take that to somewhat ridiculous extremes, but it is not unusual for a single indie author to be in a position to put out five or six books a year. Some are putting out a book a month.
And no, before you ask the question, these are not terrible books just because they were produced quickly. Mind you, the fact that an author produces a book a month is not an indication that the book only took a month to produce. There are 24 hours in a day and it is very difficult to spend them all creating new words.
But a long term outlook is more than just producing a lot of books. It means making informed choices about whether to use KDP Select. It means diversifying your income stream. It means building a relationship with your fans. It means building a mailing list. It means having a presence on the Internet so you can build a relationship with your fans.
Johnny and Sean are incurably optimistic, and it is easy to get caught up in their enthusiasm, but when they boil it down, it really is rather easy to see how to build a career. The steps you need to take are not complicated. They’re just hard.