It seems in the last few years, dialogue about all-things-publishing has been focused on platform, marketing, increasing output, distribution platforms, technology, and self-publishing. (This blog is no exception.) But as I noted in this post at Author Media , I think it’s important to call our attention back to the work.
It may be easier to get published these days because of self-pub and the proliferation of indie publishing options. But it’s not any easier to write a good book.
In fact, it may be even harder to write a good book than it was in days past, because both you and your reader have more distractions. You’re tempted by the Internet, your ability to concentrate for long periods of time has been compromised, and deep focus is more challenging. Meanwhile, your reader has infinite sources of information and entertainment. So a book has to be darn good to to keep both your attention and your reader’s. Now is the time to make sure we’re not minimizing the importance of mastering the craft.
Yes, platform is important if you want people to read your stuff. But ultimately, great writing is the best platform. A million followers are meaningless if you don’t have something worthwhile for them to read. Marketing challenges, evolving technology, and competition will always be with us. But it’s irrelevant without a good book.
I sense, out there in writer-land, an increasing focus on writing more-more-more. Many want to publish as fast as possible. Volume + speed = more money, or more success, or some such equation that I can’t quite wrap my mind around. But I do understand that this environment is leaving some writers feeling insecure, thinking they’ll be left behind if they don’t join the fray.
This agitated state of the collective mind is caused by information overload. Too many stories floating around out there, and no way to know the exact truth of each one. Anxiety comes from hearing about the accomplishments of 1% of writers and not the 99% who are slogging away in the trenches, many experiencing their own kinds of success.
And while more-more-more seems to be the mantra for some writers, readers can only read so much. They’ll have shrinking patience for works that feel sloppily crafted and hastily written.
The only way forward is the same as it ever was: run away from the noise, hunker down and wrestle mightily with your prose. Writing your best book is what matters, regardless of how many people ever read it. And in a nice bit of synchronicity, it’s what will make people want to read it.
As an agent, I’m here to help with the “other stuff.” Only you, the writer, can do the most important part. Write that book. And make it great.
Let’s collectively settle into 2014 remembering that mastering the craft is the best object of our focus. There is a time for considering various publishing routes and promoting our works, but only when we have in our hands a book that is the absolute best it can be.
Let’s go into 2014 focused more than ever on the craft of writing. Click to Tweet.
It’s harder to write a good book today – you & your reader have more distractions. Click to Tweet.
A million followers are worthless if you don’t have something good for them to read. Click to Tweet.
Anxiety = hearing the success of 10% of writers, not the 90% toiling in the trenches. Click to Tweet.
Image credit: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo
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