Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stop Learning How To Market Your Book...Please!

I am asking. No, I am begging authors to please stop with learning how to market your book to the public. In fact, I am going to add to this list. Quit taking classes or reading up on how to self-publish, how to navigate the e-publishing realm, how to get readers quicker, how to use social media to get readers, how to write "the query letter that will sell your book"....

And conference coordinators, please do me a favor and back off on all of those sessions I am telling the writers to quit taking.

In all honesty, I think so many writers are forgetting one big thing. They are ignoring the one and only thing that will get editors and agents to pay attention and readers to buy your books.

Learn how to write! Please!

Now that we have gotten through the first month of submissions for 2014, I have decided that I want to make my big push for the year working with writers about the basics of writing. I'm going back to the foundation here and, in truth, I think we need to! What we have today are writers who know everything about digital format, e-pubs, self-pubs, marketing techniques and all of those great gimmicks to sell books; however, the products we see going out are simply not there!

So what are those basics? Character, Setting, Theme, Plot, Dialogue, and yes, Grammar.

What are we seeing now?
  • Characters in romance novels that would never go together in the real world.
  • Characters that are simply 2-dimensional cartoon caricatures who do things and say things for no reason.
  • Descriptions of settings and world building that give the reader absolutely nothing to work on. 
  • Stories with no point. There is no driving force for the story.
  • Plots that ramble on and are repetitive because the writer has run out of things to say but wants to get to a single title word count.
  • Dialogue that just has the characters talking. We don't learn anything new. We don't advance the plot. We just hear talking. 
  • And yes, we have writers that are forgetting that grammar is essential in basic written communication. I'm not talking about dangling participles here, but the basics of business letter format, fragments, run-on's, subject-verb agreement and those basics.
Look, I get that we need to navigate this new world of publishing, but if we don't have quality products to market, (and this goes for writers in both the traditional and self-publishing realms) , then what is the point.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I have been blessed to be called a gifted writer. In fact my book has been rated a five-star masterpiece. I have been called an artistic genius. I do not know how to market in the first place. So no one knows about the book except the few people who marvel at the work of a first time author. That's me. Can you help? I need a review, I guess. Right? anyway, I love your post. My mother showcased a library of over 2,000 books so i learned to become an avid reader. Most of us write and yet have never read anything of substance

  4. Thank you for this article! I've been very confused, over the past two years or so, when I go to Goodreads to read reviews for romances I might want to read, see nothing but raves, and then open it up and realize I'm going to have to do a lot of work, as a reader, to fill in the missing pieces. My gateway drug into reading romance was Jennifer Crusie and what I'm wading through, now, is nowhere near that quality of storytelling.

    I hope agents and publishers will work, in the future, to try and make quality storytelling a priority. I fear that the deluge of depthless erotica might be too profitable to resist, though, and that traditional publishing will move towards taking on those types of projects, thus sweeping better stories under the rug.

  5. I loved this post. It is such a great reminder of priorities. Sometimes I feel guilty about not doing more platform building, etc., when I see so many out there pushing their work. But your post is a great reminder that a good book comes before a good platform.

  6. Thank-you for this post! And I look forward to any follow-up posts you offer on this same topic.

    Your post, today, was on a subject I've been mulling over all weekend, ever since I read the following blog post:

    And after reading that post, like the author, I now feel overwhelmed.

    Yes, I know that one cannot believe everything one reads on the internet. But still, this same information pops up in so many "writing" places. So, I am wondering. Does this blog post in any way depict the real writing world?

    I have taken it to heart that one must learn to write well and write right to become a respected published author. But in today's world, how much "selling or marketing" is that author also expected to do while still trying to write the next book.
    I'm female. And I can multi-task with the best of the girls. But I also have learned that if I am going to put four words together that make perfect sense I have to focus on one thing only, the writing. And for a good chunk of time. Or I get mish-mash. I can't stop every fifteen minutes to announce on Facebook that I had chicken noodle soup for lunch or tweet that my dog is going to the vet just to keep my name out there. Constant interruptions create garbage.

    Am I ranting? I'm sorry. Ranting is not one of my to-do list multi-tasks. But I am concerned. If becoming a published author is only going to lead to a PR nightmare, I wonder if pursuing the writing dream is worth it.

    If you have time to comment, I would so appreciate it.

  7. Learning about marketing before learning how to write is kind of like extreme daydreaming.

    If your To Do list looks like this, you're doing it wrong.
    1) Learn how to be Marketing Rockstar
    2) Make special place on my mantle for my RITA
    3) Write a book...

    Though having said that, you can probably go too far the other direction too... I really do feel like I should learn how to market. Ha ha. At some point. My second book is out next month and Uhh yeah let's not talk about that, I have another story I want to work on... *crosses-eyes*

  8. Amen! And Amen again. Would-be writers must learn how to write well. Like too many in the entertainment world, they don't want to be artists or learn the craft, they want to be stars. Immediately. I support the idea of self-publishing, but the removal of the gatekeepers has unleashed a tsunami of dreck, dreck the writers are striving mightily to sell. Sigh. Janis Susan May Patterson (and thanks to Kate McHughes for mentioning my SavvyAuthors post!)