The legend that is Rob Guthrie (@RSGuthrie on Twitter) makes a guest appearance on The Rush Room today. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than having an independent author, and one that I deeply respect, give us a brief pep talk. He is truly a rare gem in a mountain of coal, and I have to stop there before the accolades turn into a blog post of their own. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you a short story. First though, listen to some words of wisdom from one of my mentors.
Writing A Novel Is Easy (By Comparison)
A good writer friend of mine asked a while back if I’d be interested in writing a guest blog with a theme that might appeal to burgeoning Indie writers. He made the honest mistake of telling me there was no rush (no pun intended) and though I truly love blogging, given enough rope the procrastinator inside will find a way to hang me. But here were are, this is my guest blog, and I am really glad to do this one because I think there is nothing more important than the first year or two in the published writer’s life. Why?
Because I, too, am a burgeoning Indie writer (albeit one with a little over one year of publication and approximately ten months of marketing under my belt). The good news for you? That’s nearly half of the hardest part of this journey called Published Writer.
I, like most schmucks, subscribed most of my life to the idea that writing anything over 50,000 words would by far be the toughest challenge I ever set before myself. What I failed to factor in (nor could I, because there was no one like me to tell someone like you even approximately where the bear does shit in the woods), is that IF you want to make writing your business it isn’t nearly the hardest thing you’ll do. Marketing and selling your book. Reaching your audience. Deciding on, maintaining, and making known your brand.
And there are more challenges. In no particular order.
Like many of us, I used to dream of being a full-time novelist. Now I dream about is finding the main vein of readership because no matter how good my books are, if they are lost in the jungle, a thousand miles from the first civilized outpost, it doesn’t matter. And that challenge exists for all unknown writers, but the it’s bigger for Indies because we’ve got literally no one on our side but ourselves (and we’ll talk about that in a bit—the strength there are in Indie numbers and how rather than compete, we should be transparent and help each other, at least to a degree).
So write your book. And do take it seriously. I just wrote a blog on making sure your finished product is as good as it can be called “Power-Wash Your Writing“. I’d suggest you give it a read. When you DO finally reach the main vein of readers, you want your writing to be polished because you might only, if you’re LUCKY, get one shot at it. You don’t want that massive readership to turn up their nose at your product.
But once you have polished your masterpiece, you have a lot of work ahead of you. The first thing you need to decide on is your brand. For the writer the first part is easy because your name is your brand. But that’s not all that goes into creating a brand. You need to be blogging and guest blogging and tweeting and everything else, establishing who you are. You need what we call in this market impressions. People see your name. That’s an impression. And part of that impression goes beyond just seeing your name, it’s literally an impression that will be formed about you—and that, fellow writer, is your brand. So make sure it is who you want it to be. Don’t come off like an ass if you want your brand to be “nice guy writer”.
You are going to spend the next 1-5 years selling yourself as much (if not MORE than your writing). Believe me. Do NOT go forth into the market thinking you are simply going to drop your book on the world, sit on your thumbs, and wait for the readership to come roaring in. And the news is even tougher. You can’t even expect it after a year. Or two. Or maybe ever.
What you can count on is that a very large percentage of your fellow writers who enter the jungle will tire of trying to chop their way out of it (quickest of all the jerks who are unwilling to work with other writers to amplify their impressions to reach civilization first). Point being that a lot of authors won’t have what it takes to make the long haul. You must convince yourself in the beginning that the work is going to be hard, the payoff in the early years next to (if not below) zero, and that you are going to keep your nose to the grindstone.
Survive. It’s the best advice I can give. I can’t tell you to write a great book because honestly I don’t know what kind of writer you are. But if you are just starting out, I can tell you that you need to build up that hide and be ready for that success you thought was going to land in your lap being so much further away from said lap that it might as well not even exist. That said, I am also not telling you that you can’t have success. To hell with these other writers who say you can’t make a living writing. If you are a great writer there’s no way you’ll ever convince me that you can’t make a living (and a decent one) writing. Heck, even if you are simply a good writer, there are a LOT of readers out there. In fact (and this chaps my hide beyond all belief) some of the most successful Indie writers out there right now are HORRIBLE writers. So there are enough readers for everyone.
That is the secret. It’s a tough reality, but it’s also the Great Promise. If you persevere, you can make it.
Now just remember that you’re hearing that from a (barely) second year writer.
Sorry. But in the spirit of honesty, I gotta keep it real.
Oh, and never, ever forget that most important thing of all (and the good news this Golden Rule never changes):
WRITE. As much as you possibly can. MORE than you do anything else.
Other than breathe.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My fellow authors in training, you have just partaken in what will likely be the most honest account of what you can expect as a writer. Rob offers some excellent writing tips on his blog as well, which I will link to in a moment.
Last year when I began my writing journey one of the first things I did was search for writing tips on the Internet. There are thousands of websites and blogs dedicated to helping improve your writing skills. In fact, there were so many I started to feel lost. It took a couple of months to sort through but I found a few, one in particular, that stood out. This blog helped change my perception of what a writer is, or should be. It’s also the first place I learned about the indie writing community.
I’ve always thought of an author as isolated from the world, locked away in the dungeon of their choice, with little time for the rest of humanity. Rob Guthrie painted a different picture on his blog. There were open and honest discussions about life as an indie, and how working together would help elevate the community as a whole. Rob didn’t portray himself as just another author with a website and links to his books. Instead, he considered himself part of a community of writers that helped support each other. I put his site in my favorites list and followed him on Twitter. It was probably a week or two later, but he followed me back. Thus began one of the most important friendships I have made online.
Rob has been a great source of information and entertainment. I’ve publicly admitted that I didn’t know if I would enjoy reading his first book based on the short sample I found on Amazon, but I bought it anyway. Why? You can read my reviews to find out. I’ll save you the cliffhanger though. He writes a good story.
What I haven’t said publicly is how much his behind the scenes advice has meant to me. Without his encouragement, and that of a handful of others, I may have given up this dream of writing. He helped to point me in the right direction, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Thank you for this guest post Rob. And thank you for all the advice, direction and support. You are one of a kind my friend. I love you.
As promised folks, here’s where you can find more Rob Guthrie and his books. Enjoy!
You can find Rob Guthrie novels here:
You can find Rob via the following links: