Thursday, December 29, 2011

Isn't a good book enough anymore?

As the new year approaches, I find myself torn. The year 2011 was a watershed year for me as a writer, having published a novel I wrote more than ten years ago. So far, readers love it, and I am ecstatic to be able to offer it in print. I also started a blog, designed my own website, opened a twitter account, and created a google alert on self publishing. The marketing phenomenon that is Three Women/Three Books was born, with fellow writers Nerys Parry and Jasmine Aziz. With a precious few holiday hours I put in some serious writing time on the new book, The Third Road, about a young girl in Malaysia in the 1950s who becomes a Communist geurrilla. It's all good, right? So why oh why, on the eve of the eve of the eve, am I torn? Because I need to make a decision if I am to finish the second book before I sign up for lessons on how to use a walker. Seriously. The commitment of time needed to finish a book, as any writer will tell you, is enormous. But as a self published author, I need to market myself. Those Google alerts are killing me....every day there are a good ten articles telling me what I should be doing to get my name out there. But a morning spent blogging, tweeting, posting, not to mention being a polite networker, which means reading a lot of other people and commenting and so on, is a morning spent, well, not writing the next book, the one you hope incorprates everything you learned from writing the first one. And what if that morning is all you have for that week, in between working full time, looking after elderly parents, spending some time with your immediate family, shopping, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, paying the bills...what if that morning is all you have? I think I need to spend it doing what fuels my passion for living....writing. If there is any spare time leftover, I will do some marketing. Otherwise, I will be promoting a hollow and inauthentic self, even if that self is well connected by social media standards. Thoughts? And while I am here, may I wish everyone a splendid 2012, filled with joy, good health, and creativity.


  1. Sandra, there are so many authors in the same position. It's very difficult. I often think of Amanda Hocking's classic post from this March ( where she described the despair she felt as an indie at all the time lost to marketing her books. As well, I often think of Rick Mofina's guest post on JA Konrath's blog ( where he talked about getting up at 3:30 am to write before going to work and writing in airports, on the bus, wherever/whenever. Of course in Mofina's case he has a legacy publisher, but has a full-time job and still needs to find time to WRITE.

    There are no easy answers, of course, and only individual answers that fit ourselves. I'd say, though, that the one common denominator is dogged determination. We're writers, and as you say, it's what we do. Ultimately the writing has a higher priority than the marketing. I always say that if I'd wanted to sell stuff, I'd be working in a shoe store.

    All the best for 2012!

    The Overnight Bestseller

  2. Well said Michael, and thanks for the reference to Amanda's blog post. Love that line about the shoe store...cheers!