Monday, May 18, 2015

There Are No Shortcuts

There is a difference between taking advantage of opportunities to get your career moving, and taking short cuts. Opportunities are more about being in the right place at the right time. It is about using your well established connections to "network". In the case of opportunities, it is about showcasing your work. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many authors lately, not taking advantage of the opportunities and trying to advance their careers with "shortcuts."

So what do I mean by shortcuts? The definition of a shortcut is: "an accelerated way of doing or achieving something". The key here is accelerated. In other words, we are trying to do something faster, and therefore faster is somehow better.

What do we see today? Authors using social media to "pitch projects." They seem to think if they can crank you 140 words on Twitter, we will get to their work sooner. We get requests all of the time to participate in a "contest" where people just get on their blog and "pitch" their story. The argument the coordinators use is that it "gets all of the projects in one place for the editors and agents." Sort of a one stop shopping. In reality, this is a short cut. Instead of professionally writing a quality query and going through the standard procedures, we want to skip it all and go straight to the contract.

I see authors doing this with query letters. These tend to be some of the more tech savvy people who have drafted a "template" query and then with a well organized data base, crank out the form letters to send out to every editor or agent acquiring their genre. Through programs such as Constant Contact, they attempt to "get those projects out faster." The problem? The letters are form letters and do not "market or sell" their projects in a way that is profitable.

We have seen that same concept of the short cut extend out to many authors just wanting to be published. One of the reasons (please note I did say one here) is that you can "be published" fast. Within 72 hours of submission, you can call yourself published. Somehow, because it is faster, it is better.

I have said it here in the past and I will say it again. Being a professional writer takes TIME. It takes time to write the story. It takes time to get the story edited. It takes time for revision. It takes time to find the right market (editor/agent) for your story. It takes time to build your reader list. It takes time to get to that NY Times Best Seller List. It takes time to be able to quit that day job and write full time.

Sure there might seem to be quicker paths, but are these quicker, or are these simply things you are doing because you don't have the patience?

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