Monday, December 5, 2016

Authors Are Focusing On The Wrong Thing

I have talked about this in the past, but the last round of submission really seemed to reflect this trend I am seeing in writers today. The focus of writers is simply on the wrong thing. In fact, it isn't just the writers, but articles, I read as well as conferences. So, what is the missing focus?

Instead of focusing on creating great writing, people are spending far too much time on thinking about marketing and selling books.

Although it is really important to have a great marketing plan and to get the word out about your books, if the work that you are promoting is not good, that marketing will be for nothing. I get that developing a great strategy and business plan is important. I also understand that creating that "perfect synopsis" or "perfect query letter" is important, but the story you have spent months on is what we will really be looking at as editors and agents. It is the story that your readers will expect to be amazing. If not, the odds are they won't be back for more books.

I do think this is a problem that seems to be across all levels of the publishing world. Conferences have far too many sessions on marketing and not as many on craft. The industry magazines that come out have an excessive amount of articles focusing on the marketing. Even the groups I am part of on social media seem to go overboard with the emphasis on getting the readers.

What happened to the craft?

I do think this issue is even more important in today's society where we have so many self-publishing avenues that are constantly proclaiming the ease of being a published author.

Writing is not easy. It takes time and to be a great writer requires learning how to craft a great story. It is not just a matter of sitting at the computer, cranking out 80-100 K of word count, push the spell checker button and call it quits.

If you are a writer really frustrated by the number of submissions that you have sent out resulting in rejection letters, you might wish to review your knowledge of writing. If you know the terms, or you are putting in plot devices, but really don't understand the rationale behind the use, or the impact on the writing, you might wish to take a few more classes and review the craft a bit more.

I would also add that if you are a new writer, and you really do want to improve, maybe it is time to put some pressure on your writing chapters and the conference coordinators to bring back more craft sessions.

Who knows what success we might all find?


  1. Amen! I really wish more people focused as much on craft as on marketing. The best marketing tool is a good book. Readers won't buy the second book if the first one stunk, no matter how great your marketing is.

  2. I am a voracious reader,I spend up to 200 dollars a month on books. I am amazed with some of the sloppy writing. You have historical Romance, where the author, the proof readers, and the editor do not catch how a peer is to be adrressed!On several pages, a Duke is addressed as my Lord, his mother as my Lady, not Your Grace. On it goes, whether it is an Earl ,or whomever. Then you have lazy writers,who write the same sub plot, and change the names, very frustrating is this! Good article, and I agree completely. carolintallahassee

  3. Yes and yes!

    Also happy to report the Antioch Writers' Workshop (disclosure: I'm assistant director) focuses on craft with only sporadic classes on marketing, etc.