The last time I blogged here at Savvy Authors, I talked about my writing sign posts, the lights that led me down the path to getting published. But guess what? Getting published is only the first part of the journey. The road doesn’t end there – not if you plan to keep writing.
After you get the CALL, after an editor says YES, after you sign a CONTRACT, you face a new set of challenges. For example, on release day, you will be filled with glee. You might also be filled with fear – which makes you spend the day glued to the computer trolling sales venues, watching your numbers go up and down and feeling your spirits rise and plummet with them. You might wonder: what can I do to help my book succeed? (Notice I didn’t say sell. Somehow it feels far more urgent than just making sales.) And then you might feel compelled to redesign your website according to all the must-have marketing advice, sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and do everything else all the other authors seem to be doing. Yes, you might even feel like you should blog with terrifying regularity.
Promotion is a whole different job, and it can really cut into your writing time. However, losing writing time isn’t the pitfall of promotion and social media for me. Most of the time, I can reach deep and find the discipline to get fresh words on paper without tweeting *too* many times. Instead, I struggle with losing motivation to write when my numbers are low, my timelines are silent, or I get a less than stellar review. If, like me, you are susceptible to the germs of self-doubt, you can spend hours chatting, blogging and visiting social networking sites, feeling like a paralyzed wallflower if no one is responding to you. Moreover, with so many ways to check on sales of books already in the marketplace, it’s easy to forget that writing the next book is more important than how the last book is selling. With all the distractions, rankings, reviews, comments, posts, digests and groups, it’s hard to focus on the WIP. It is especially hard to focus on the WIP when a negative review sucks the will to write out of your soul through your eyeballs. So what is a successful writer to do (and if you’re published, you are successful! You’re living the dream! You did it!) when success feels just a little bit like failure?
Find new sign posts.
I’m more than a writer. I’m a mother, adjunct faculty at a community college, a private reading tutor, a wife and a friend, but I am good at none of these things when the writing isn’t going well. I struggle with balance and perspective every day, and I don’t think I’m the only one. (Oh God, what if I’m the only one! Am I the only one?!) I have so much of myself tied up in this writing gig that it bleeds over into other areas of my life. It’s not fair to take it out on the kids, the husband, my students or my colleagues when I’m besieged with self-doubt. It’s all in my head – and that’s where the adjustment needs to take place. Therefore, when I figure out a new way to stay balanced, I make a sign and tack it up on the wall – a tangible sign post to help me maintain perspective.
My first new sign post is: You Can Control The Product. I can’t control my reviews or my rankings, but I can control my work. I can meet my word count goals. I can forge ahead with a draft. I can make each manuscript shine before I submit it. By focusing on things I can control, I feel successful, creative and energetic.
Another sign post: It’s Not A Competition. It doesn’t matter how fast my friends are writing or how many books they are selling. It’s not a competition. Apples to oranges, baby. The more good books that are out there, the more likely it becomes that a reader will find my books too. I am not a speedy writer. I blame my poetry background for my obsession with finding perfect words, even during a first draft. #1k1hr, beloved by so many writers on Twitter, rarely works for me. When I compare my wordcount or backlist to many of my peers, I feel like a loser. But if I ask myself if I am happy with the work I have done, the answer is yes, and I feel jazzed to write more words.
The latest sign post on my wall is Enjoy The Ride. I bet you’ve heard THAT before. So much easier said than done! After I submit a manuscript to my genius editor, I haunt my inbox. For months. I wait impatiently for contract offers, covers, edits and release dates. Over the past few years, I’ve discovered my mood and energy are based on how successful I feel. I’ve also learned that I base my success on outward achievements, and I need constant reassurance in the form of contract offer, covers, edits and release dates to make me feel good. (Uh-oh. Yes, I’m working on this. What do you think all the signs are for?!) Stressing out for months and checking my e-mail every five seconds isn’t going to get my book published any faster, but it will make for an unpleasant, back-breaking ride. It also kills my creative energy. I will write more and better words if I get away from the writing for a while. My life is better when I exercise, eat healthy and spend time with my family and friends. There is more to life than the next book and just to BE on this writing journey is a grand thing. Enjoy the ride! (Still easier said than done. Yoga helps me with this. It’s a little sick, but I need a deadline in order to get to the gym. Class starts at 9!)
Social media is important to authors. I will even go so far as to say an online presence is essential for an e-published author. I have a website. I blog. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. But when I find my efforts at promotion interfere with my ability to work on my WIP, I pull back. I post signs to help me stay balanced. I hope my sign posts inspire you to find ways to stay balanced and maintain your creative focus in your own writing life. Remember – you’re living your dream!
About Miranda Baker
It makes me chuckle to think about all the romantic short stories I wrote in my rather too literary creative writing classes in college. If only one of my professors had steered me toward popular fiction! On the other hand, if I had discovered my calling back then, I wouldn’t have gone to culinary school, I wouldn’t have met my husband, we wouldn’t have had three children and I wouldn’t have turned to erotic romance to get my mojo back during all this hair-raising kid raising. Currently, I’m looking forward to seeing covers and beginning edits for Hook Up, Book Three in the Come Again series, and Power Trip, Book One in my new superhero smut series. But I am not haunting my inbox. Really. Please visit me at http://www.mirandabaker.com if you’d like to share your signs!
Come Again, Book 2
It takes two to toy with love.
When librarian Alisa Mane’s boyfriend accuses her of being frigid, she sets out to prove him wrong the only way she knows how—with research.
A visit to the local sex shop uncovers the sizzling sensuality locked beneath her cool façade, and she eagerly accepts the opportunity to test sex toys for SoloPlay Enterprises. Under the code name “Sologirl”, she begins exploring her body on her own terms. After all, no one was ever rejected by a vibrator.
Mark Winters needs his new DoublePlay line of toys to hit big, and there’s only one tester for the job—Sologirl. She fires his imagination with playfully erotic reviews and never fails to pick a winner. There’s only one problem—Sologirl refuses to test the DoublePlay toys for couples. With his company’s success on the line, he decides to make his offer again, up close and in person.
One look at the icy hot Mark and Alisa realizes he’s her best chance to discover if any man can satisfy her. A red-hot month of experimentation more than answers that question, but now Alisa has another problem—DoublePlay is almost ready for production and her feelings for Mark have nothing to do with business. Is she brave enough to continue playing…with her heart?
Product Warning: This book contains a sexy librarian, an icy hot businessman, scandalous emails, scorching male/female and female/female play time, and vibrating, well…everything.
Purchase now | Excerpt