Let’s be honest. Chances are you’re never going to make it.
And by ‘make it’, I mean, 'hit that level of literary fame where your name alone will shift 100,000 copies of whatever guff you vomited up this month’.
Some writers are middle of the road enough to reach this level in their lifetimes, but this probably won’t be you. Chin up.
The only guarantee in this poorly-timed punchline of a profession is that if you want anything out of it you’ll have to work hard.
And you’ll have to keep working hard.
There are no passes, no exceptions. Finished writing your book? Woopy-doo. Got a book deal? Fuck you.
You have to keep working hard.
It isn’t enough to be a writer alone. Everyone is a writer, and most of them are better than you. And at least as misguided.
It’s not enough because this is a vague new world, with more content, more noise, more static than ever before.
You need to make yourself visible, you need to cut through. Relying on a publisher or an agent or the barely legible prose of your latest abomination to do the work for you is setting yourself up to be wholly ignored.
You have to cut the bullshit and promote yourself.
You’re a publisher. You’re a PR. You’re a marketing department. You’re customer services. You are the street team, the evangelist and the fangirl.
Whether you’re self-published or you have a team of reasonably trained, mostly alcoholic professionals in your corner, this still applies. Why? Because you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.
You’re just a name on a mediocre manuscript in a slushpile full of mediocre manuscripts. If you do get published, chances are the’re not going to make any money off you, so you’ve got to show them that you’re a good investment.
You’ve got to add value to your brand. Yes, you’re a brand. No, that doesn’t mean you get to talk about yourself in the third person.
Actually, while we’re here - you should log into Twitter, Goodreads, and especially fucking LinkedIn and re-write that bio in the first person. Right now. Third person is not for talking about yourself. Ever. Stop that shit, you look ridiculous.
Back to my point - the assholes don’t care about you. They buy whatever the supermarkets buy in bulk and discount at a loss. The way to make people care is to build an audience on your own.
Talk to your readers. Talk about your process, share tips, ask for advice. Start the conversation. Get yourself on Facebook and Twitter. And in the name of all that is sensible get yourself a Tumblr.
Build your audience, and suddenly you have value beyond your words alone. You know you’re a good writer, you’ve put your words on paper - this is half the battle. The other half is making yourself a viable publishing option.
Of course, there are no guarantees. But keep working hard and promoting yourself and you’re only going to help your cause.
Even if you do get published, even if you write a bestseller and you sell the film rights and someone throws a meaningless award at you, you still need to talk to your readers, to manage your brand, to build your audience.
Look at writers like Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis. Acclaimed, bestselling authors both, and still both leverage social media to help promote themselves and engage with their readers.
They don’t have to, but they understand the importance of not resting on their laurels and continuing to work hard. And both are enjoying far wider recognition as a result.
As a writer, you wouldn’t trust anyone to write your words for you. In the same way, you should be the one promoting your words. The words you worked for so long to craft. The words you bled for.
There are no valid arguments. Just cut the bullshit and promote yourself.