A Writer's Dilemma

Writers have to work alone in order to sort out plot, create sub-plots and build multi-dimensional characters. In that isolation, they create worlds from their imaginations.

But once published, new writers without agents have to perform a contortionist’s act and become marketers, social media experts and self-promoters. That is truly a major challenge.

Two years ago my novel, Bend with the Wind, was published by Rangitawa Publishing. This was followed up by my book of short stories, Voices, last year. I can’t fault Rangitawa Publishing. They did a great job by providing me with exactly what I wanted…an authentic voice that independently validated my work.

However, I soon realised, once my novel was published that was not the end of the story (excuse the pun). Although a publisher had taken my novel, I had to sell my book. This meant turning my introversion inside out and becoming extroverted. That is quite a feat and I am not altogether sure I achieved the metamorphosis required. I am not a natural salesperson at all! And to try and sell something I had created, as proud of it as I might be, I struggled. Both have had excellent reviews and still a thousand contrary voices jabbered in my head.

Add to this, the fact that I have been raised not to ‘show off’ and you will begin to understand how difficult it is to promote myself and my work. I suspect many writers struggle with this dilemma.

My inner voice roars, “Polite people never push themselves forward.”

And another irascible voice screeches, “You want to live? You want to feed yourself? You want a roof over your head? Sell your work!”

I wage this battle every day. It is the war of an introvert trying to do extroverted things. But it is also a war against social conditioning.

So it is a relief when someone offers to help me out. Just a simple change of wording in a heading and my dead line sparks into life. That’s a marketer’s skill and it is wonderful to behold.

There is absolutely no room for humbleness in a world where writers want their books to stand out against 4,500,000 other books on Amazon alone. But how does someone with little marketing experience become a marketing expert that sells what a writer produces? This is the challenge every writer faces. Do they become marketers or remain poorly paid writers?

writers dilemma
short stories


Five novels and a sixth book on the way but like you, no market experience in selling the work except social media. AND, if you want someone to market the book for you, have your money ready. It is a difficult problem and I wish I had an answer. The only glimmer I see on the horizon is that some publishers are now looking at new writers without a referral from an agent. The most important thing is - keep writing and improving all the time. You never know who might look over your shoulder and like what they read.
This supports the stance of needing an independent publisher - the big firms will eventually notice (hopefully) and then you get traction. Throughout the course of history many wannabe writers have failed to get noticed or heard. It is only a small percentage who get there, but your writing (and storytelling ability) has to be way above average.
Thanks Ray and Bruce. This dilemma has prompted me to start focusing on the issue. I also am struggling to find answers but I am sure there is one ...or more. We are planning a Writers Symposium in Melbourne in October and this will be one of the key areas we focus on. We're calling it Breaking the Code going from published to best selling author.
Writing is labour intensive. There is no hourly rate or salary to see you to the end of the week to feed yourself. For many writers the skill-honing exercise of writing is a secondary occupation. There are few at the level where they can make a living. The first step in to getting a regular audience/market is the hardest. eg 50 Shades of Grey was an exception.
Thank you Ray for your comments because I am sure you're right. We have to focus on improving and yes, I think publishers are starting to approach authors and so are agents. But if the story is average or has mistakes they won't stay looking for long. Oh yes 50 Shades, Harry Potter etc were all exceptions. Also there was a lot of luck involved in both. Thanks for your thoughtful comments everyone. I am going to keep following this discussion with other blogs. I think its an important topic.