Write or Promote: That is the real question

My life has become so incredibly busy. I basically hold two full-time jobs, have a family, oh — and I try to write and promote my books. Needless to say, it’s exhausting. On the book front, I have three books going at once (all three at different stages) and have to figure out ways to promote the books that are published. It’s not an easy task, managing all of these duties, and I’m starting to realize, with regards to my books, there is one aspect far more important than the others — writing.

As an indie writer, I have a lot of hats I must wear. I must be a writer, an editor (unless I hire an editor —  which I do), agent, promoter, and much more. A huge conflict of interest arises when a writer attempts to don more than one hat at once…time constraint. As there are only so many hours during a day (and, at least for most indie writers, much of that is taken up by *shudder* day jobs), so it’s hard to make enough time for the simple act of living. So when a writer must produce, promote, and perfect — something is going to suffer.

I would propose the very last duty to suffer (from all of those “writer related” duties) would be the act of writing. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but two particular reasons stick out:

  • The more you produce, the better your chances are that you will sell.
  • With practice comes perfection.

What am I saying? Shouldn’t we already consider our craft perfect? We are published writers, after all. To that I would say, if you already think you are perfect, stop writing now and never touch a keyboard again. Why? The second you think you have perfected your craft, your craft will suffer immeasurably. Only when you realize how much room for improvement you have, will you grow. If there is no perceived room for growth, no growth will happen. In fact, I would ague that when there is no perceived room for growth, quite the opposite will happen and the writer will see a reduction in quality.

Artists are notorious for being their worst critic. I am that — very much so. But to the very end I will argue that is a good quality to hold on to, because it pushes us forward. That desire for perfection (whether attainable or not) is the very desire that urges us to heights we might not otherwise reach.

When I was an actor I was forever pushing my personal limits. Nothing was ever good enough. At times that behavior could be seen as destructive, but most of all is was a behavior that forced my craft into realms I couldn’t have visited otherwise. Sometimes it was painful, sometimes it was glorious — but always it was a force for growth.

The single most important important thing a writer can do is write. Plain and simple. Yes, we all want to be ridiculously successful  and we’ll all do everything it takes to reach that pinnacle of success. But at what cost? When you must have a day job (to pay the bills) and you must care for a family, what gets tossed out the door? I am at that point in my life right now. When I first embarked on the indie writer path, I was doing everything I could to pimp my books and get word out. But then something happened — I realized I was taking precious time away from writing to tweet and blog and post on facebook. Distractions from the ultimate truth, the truth being the task, the task being that of writing.

My books are my art, my craft. My books are the end product of a great deal of care, love, work, sweat, worry…and eventually those works will speak for themselves.

So as I continue to produce, I will continue to publish. And as I continue to publish I will continue to sell. And the more I sell, well, the more I will sell (Isn’t it beautiful the way that works out?) But more important to that little formula is the more I publish the more I will sell. A large catalog of books means a larger audience that can be reached and that same audience will take me as the serious author I am. Along those same lines, the more books I publish the better the chances my craft will continue to improve.

So for anyone out there struggling to get your content into the hands of the readers of the world, I highly recommend that you continue doing what you do and, when pressed for time, opt for writing over promoting. Always write, all the time. Live it. Breathe it. Eat it. Live it — your writing.

It’s not science and I do wish I had all the time in the world to dedicate to both writing and PR. Until that day comes I am going to focus on writing and promote when I can.

One perfect example is this blog post. How, you were interested enough to read the post, so you’ll be interested enough to read my book A Blade Away (which can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.)