People love to give advice and there are certain folks that are favorite targets to well-meaning advice-givers. New parents are approached by perfect strangers in supermarkets advising them on how to dress, feed, spoil, educate, and properly raise their child. Backyard mechanics covered in grease are peppered with advice from their spotlessly clean neighbor. And anyone foolish enough to pursue their dream of becoming an author is advised by virtually everyone that such a pursuit is difficult, probably impossible, could lead to certain financial ruin and an early, unseemly death.
I’m a very optimistic guy. To me, not only is the glass half full, there are a dozen reasons why the half-full glass is actually better than a full glass. So, my reaction to all the advice was to seek out writer’s groups where I was certain to find positive moral support. Unfortunately, a vocal faction would often turn a session into a dark discussion of how the publishing business is difficult, probably impossible, and will lead to certain financial ruin and an early, unseemly death.
My one piece of marketing advice is quite simple…don’t hang with this crowd.
Early in my pursuit to be an author, I was lucky enough to get to know fellow Liar Jonathan Maberry. Here was a guy that was actually more optimistic than I was and he introduced me to a group of authors that had a positive, realistic approach to the business. In addition to the marketing ideas I get from these folks, each of them has proactively built extensive networks in the industry from which I’ve benefited professionally.
This is not about looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. All of the authors in the Liars Club have had their fair share of bumps and bruises as they’ve navigated the industry. The difference is in their response. Rather than spending too much time bemoaning their fate (I do think that a little bemoaning over a couple of drinks is healthy), they quickly start to work on alternative approaches and strategies to tackle their challenges. The positive energy and approach to the business that permeates any discussion we have has been invaluable to me.
Finding success as an author is not an easy path. The business is difficult and presents some daunting challenges. Achieving financial success can be tricky if not downright elusive. And while you may have reached an age where an early death is no longer possible, an unseemly one is always an option for a writer. Given these realities, the key is to build your network with people that see their careers in terms of endless possibilities over those who see themselves as victims of a capricious industry.
Keith Strunk is the author of Prallsville Mills and Stockton of the Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series. He is co-founder of River Union Stage, a professional Equity theater based in Frenchtown, NJ.
Keith’s post is part of an ongoing series, where Liars each chime in on a burning question about publishing. Check out prior posts, and look back daily for more comments from members of the Liars Club. Better yet, subscribe to this site.