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Crazy Town…Or Should I say “Crazy Business”?

A few weeks ago I as I rolled through the flat, hot backwoods of Louisiana, a song by Jason Aldean came on the radio – “Crazy Town.” Now if you’re a country music fan, you’ve probably heard it. As I listened to the words, it occurred to me that while I don’t live in Nashville, I exist in a pretty crazy, confusing, heartbreaking, soul stirring world of publication.

Now, some of you might not be published yet, and that’s cool because if you’re a smart writer, you’re paying attention to what’s happening every month, week and day in the publishing world. And if you’re smart writer (or even if you’re not so smart) you know that no one can make much sense of how to break into the big leagues anymore than those singer songwriters in Nashville playing night after night wondering why their ship doesn’t crash into the dock…yesterday.

I’ve wasted more time than I care to admit wondering this sort of thing myself. Where’s my ship? When’s it coming in? Do they know what pier I’m on? Cause I’ve been waiting a little while now and…where the hell is it?

As you may sense, I’m not so patient. LOL.

Recently I had the luck of catching the eye of a pretty good writer. She read my book The Sweetest September when it finaled in the Rita Awards a few years back. She was very complimentary, which we all know lifts us a little bit higher off the ground when we walk, and she was kind enough to mention my books to her friends….her writing friends. And they, in turn, read the book. One such writer was one who is known to populate the NYT Bestseller lists, and she reached out to me to ask a bit about my journey, and we’ve formed a friendship. Which is cool, right?

Absolutely.

Because the cool thing about having this accomplished writer as a friend is the invaluable advice I get. I’m telling you guys, I rubbed my hands together, greedily awaiting the magic advice that would get me over the hump, that would thrust me into the next level of the business. My name would be in lights…or at least in the Barnes and Noble, for cripe’s sake. But you know what her advice was?

Be patient.

Yes, be patient.

In a world scrambling to write faster, write more, market more, form a FB group, get a tribe, get a loss leader, run a sale, get a Bookbub, don’t wait to promote, another newsletter, giveaway, giveaway, write a novella….do you have a loss leader???? this writer is telling me to be patient and write good books. That’s her advice. In a nutshell (help! I’m in a nutshell). And you know, it sort of hit me upside the head.

Because I’m always trying to figure out how to do better with my sales. Are you?

I bet you are.

But the thing is, we can chase our tails until we fall out, flat exhausted on the floor, with not much to show for it. See, this writer reminded me of something I’ve always said (that may only make sense to me) but is my motto – the story is the thing.

You’re like, okay, yeah, so, you still gotta do stuff outside of writing a good book. And you’re right, but what I’m advocating is not tossing out your newsletter or running from FB parties, I’m saying that you have to write good books, you have to be patient and you have to be ready for success IF it happens. Because the fact is, for most of us, we won’t be wildly successful. That’s just fact. So all that stuff we panic about, the stuff we wonder if we should be doing, can actually be harmful to the thing that is THE MOST IMPORTANT and that’s the actual writing. 

While my son was at tutoring last week, I picked up a copy of The Naked Writer by Jennifer Probst. Often I browse the romance section and then invariably wander over to the writing section. I love that section. It’s like coming home in one way. I know I belong in that writing section because I’m a writer. Most of the time I don’t buy, but over the past month, I’ve entered this philosophical tough, pissed off girl stage where I’m just mad about my situation. It’s not a bad situation, but still I chafe at the constraints. I can’t make people buy my books, I can’t make my publisher give me promotions, I can’t make myself a success. I just can’t. And that’s pissed me off. Because I should be doing something. Maybe a Goodreads giveaway? Anyway, because I’m in this weird mood, I bought this book. This morning I read the first chapter. Damn, but it was good. It pulls together exactly what it is to be a writer. The story is the thing. And only I can write my story. In my room. By myself. With my computer (and coffee…let’s be real about that).

So what am I telling you? I know you’re wondering. Well, I’m saying you will go through times where you panic because you feel like you can’t keep up. You will go through times where you feel impatient, antsy, pissed off. You will doubt yourself, hate your friends (even though you love them), bow to buying 500 purple pens because surely that will sell more books, but in the end know that this is part of being in a crazy, changing business.  

But when it gets too noisy, chuck the crap and focus on what’s important – the writing.  In the words of Jason Aldean (or whoever wrote the song) “We love it, we hate, it, we’re all just trying to make it. In this crazy town.”

 

28 responses to “Crazy Town…Or Should I say “Crazy Business”?”

  1. Kim Law says:

    Excellent advice. (And now I want to read that book, too. I didn’t realize she’d written a writing book.)

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  2. Great blog, Liz! I’m so WITH you right now. It’s become impossible to get a BookBub ad and without one, sales suck. I finally got an ad scheduled for my book Kissing Jessie, and now AMAZON is being difficult about price-matching it.

    KDP said they’ll get back to me by the END of the day on the same date my promo is supposed to run. If I can’t get them to do something earlier, I’m going to be out $400 in ads that I can’t afford with NO promotion. Needless to say, I’m sick to my stomach.

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  3. Heather McCollum says:

    Love, love, love this post, Liz!!

    Yeah – I teeter between the “I don’t care about sales, I just want to write” and “Dammit, I’ve got a kid in college and people need to buy the books I work so hard to put out there.”

    Maybe I need to pick up Jennifer’s book! Thank you for a wonderful reminder! And now I don’t feel so alone with that evil gnawing impatience.

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    • Liz talley says:

      It’s so hard to be patient. Like really, really hard. And I have to admit I wanted her to say something like”here’s my plan. Do this. You will be big.” But, alas, noneasy button. Lol.

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  4. Liz, Great advice. I gave up the what to do to get more sales a year ago and focused on studying the craft and my works. I haven’t been so happy since I started writing.

    Success to me is not dollars –of course I’d like to make enough money to cover the cost of the next book and maybe attend a writer’s event, and maybe buy myself a new double oven–, but touching readers. I love when I get a review. I happy dance. I love when a reader emails me. I happy dance again.

    Joy is what I’m after. Maybe one day, I’ll have hundreds of thousands readers, but until then I’m having fun.

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    • Liz talley says:

      What a healthy way to approach a career. Focusing on your craft and writing the best book that will evoke emotions in your reader should always be top priority!

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      • Tracy Brody says:

        Amen. Yes, I being patient. I have three books that have all finaled in the Golden Heart, two wins. Still not sold but, I’m waiting for the right deal. And in the meantime I just keep writing. Definitely want to make money someday, but I still say writing is cheaper than therapy. And it says encouragement when you hear that somebody loved your story and your characters that keeps you going while I wait.

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  5. I love the advice to be patient. I feel like I need a “Keep Calm and Carry On Writing” shirt. There are a lot of upheavals in this business, but I think the best thing we can cultivate in ourselves is an even keel and the drive to persevere through all of it.

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    • Liz Talley says:

      Yes, and doing this is necessary for staying in the business. I like the idea of centering oneself, taking stock of what really matters and letting go of what we can’t control. That doesn’t mean we become passive. It means we don’t let crazy drive the ship. And I would wear that shirt. Maybe everyday 🙂

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  6. Gwyn says:

    Thank you! A great birthday gift since I needed to hear this today. So many doubts. So many “what ifs” and “if onlys”. You rock, lil sis! {{{Hugs}}}

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  7. Great blog, Liz. I hit the wall a while ago and just kind of…stopped. I’m trying to rediscover a love for writing, which has led me to exploring what kind of story I’m trying to tell. Do I want to change that story? Do I want to try something new? I’m not sure at the moment (and am trying to be patient with the uncertainty!), but I try to write when I can and see where it goes. Thanks for the reminder about patience.

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    • Liz Talley says:

      You’re so welcome, and I get it. Sometimes when our career takes a hairpin turn, we can’t figure out if we should take it or try a new road. That can be crippling. But at times when I feel like this, I’m thankful to have people around me who give me diverse insights, who wake me up to what IS important and who encourage me. You’ve been one of those people. Every time I drink out of the mug you sent me, at a time when I was struggling with what I should do, I remember that I have friends who understand. People who believe in me. And I just keep going….

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  8. Wow, I love that line, Liz! And I adore that book. There is so much information in The Naked Writer, it boggles the mind.

    What a great post. Thank you for the reminder to be patient, Liz. And, yes, just keep writing. That’s the bottom line. When I think about all the things I SHOULD be doing and am not, I go into full panic mode. Even reading that paragraph listing all things to do gave me heart palpitations. Calming down now and getting back to writing.

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    • Liz Talley says:

      LOL. I wasn’t trying to give you heart palpitations, D. I was trying to help you see that sometimes all that mud obscures the view. The magic of Darynda isn’t in the giveaways or the fan clubs or the endless lists of tasks. It’s in those fingertips you put on the keys. And whoa, is there magic there.

      When in doubt, put your dang fingers on those keys…and make magic 🙂

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  9. Jacie Floyd says:

    Excellent advice. You know what to do, but sometimes one things resonates more than another. Be patient, yes, patience is a virtue, but that is not enough for me. I write, but that is it enough for me. I need to DO something, or feel like I am. I have trouble finding that zen place that patience encompasses. I languished in writing obscurity for 20 years before I published and obscurity doesn’t do it for me anymore. Just being real.

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    • Liz Talley says:

      It’s so hard to be patient. Especially when you’ve been doing that for a long time. My friend constantly stresses to me that the only way to change my situation is through readers. I need readers to grassroots my books, to love them enough to recommend, rave, and buy the next one. That’s hard to do, right? Yeah. Very hard to do. I’m cheering for you, Jacie!

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  10. Elisa Beatty says:

    Amen, sister! That’s all I can say.

    (Okay, one more thing: awesome writing in this post!!!!)

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  11. Addison Fox says:

    Wonderful post!!!!!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!!!

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  12. Hope Ramsay says:

    Chiming in a day late (as usual, but only because I was writing…) to say that this is the best post I’ve read in quite some time.

    Patience is required in this business. And I sometimes feel that I lucked out because when I was working so hard to become a good writer and make my first sale, the option of indie publishing was not available to me.

    Yes, you heard me correctly.

    The 25 years it took between my first novel and my first sale was a trial. I would not recommend it to anyone. But it sure did teach me two things: patience, and the value of writing a good book.

    I do promo because I have to. I write stories because I want to. And that makes all the difference.

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  13. lasertest says:

    I feel that is among the most important info for me.
    And i am happy studying your article. But should commentary on few normal issues,
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