Guest Post – Terri Benson: What’s a Writer to Do?

By Terri Benson

Today’s writers have so many things to think about besides the act of writing. Oh, for the days when you typed up or printed out your book manuscript, boxed it up, sent it to your publisher, then started your next book, certain that the publisher had enough invested in you that they would do their best to get lots of copies sold. I’m pretty sure those days existed at one point – they’re in the movies, anyway, so it must have happened.

These days, the majority of first time writers who traditionally or Indie publish will get a small advance or none at all, and go first to e-book. If you sell enough, they might go ahead with paperback. Publishers have very little invested in new authors. There’s the art for your book cover, but we all know there are thousands of graphic designers out there who can do a nice cover for not a huge amount of money. The quality of printed books isn’t the same as it used to be, especially in paperback. They cram more words on the page to reduce the cost of printing, and you get books that you can’t open the spine far enough to read without breaking the book’s back. And you know there isn’t nearly as much copy editing as there used to be. I rarely find a book—even by the big names—that doesn’t have blatant typos.

Writers are also pretty much required to have a platform with Facebook, Twitter, a good website, maybe a blog, and lots of followers – and they need constant attention to keep them fresh and interesting. We need to attend conferences and workshops to improve our craft and keep up with the ever-changing technology, and network like crazy.

So if you’re doing all that, how are you supposed to find time to write, edit, go to critique meetings, and read? Because you all know good writers read a lot.

If you thought that by the time you got to this point in my blog, I would have answered this question for you, you’re wrong. I don’t think anyone has all, or even a lot of, the answers for this. The state of publishing is evolving on almost a daily basis. There are more and more options for self-publishing, with the result of more books being published. But we all know many of those books shouldn’t have been published, at least not in the condition they appear. But there they are, and our books are mixed in with them, buried within thousands of other books in our genre.

I’d love to hear from those of you who think you might have some answers to the question: What’s a writer to do? For me, I’ll just keep plugging away, putting words on paper, sending queries, self-publishing when I think I’m ready, but still hoping for a call from a traditional publisher (for the simple egotistical reason that I want to say I was traditionally published, even though many writers make more with self-publishing). I’ll work tirelessly to improve my craft, dissect my book covers to see what could make them stand out in the crowd, and keep my on-line persona as visible as I have the time to, and feel comfortable with. And Write On!


Terri Benson 2015As a life-long writer, Terri Benson has one published novel, award winning short stories, and over a hundred articles – many award winning - in local and regional magazines and on-line e-zines. She is a multi-year member of RMFW and Western Slope events are hosted by her employer, she also belongs to RWA. Benson currently promotes Western Slope events for the RMFW Publicity Committee, pelts RMFW with articles for the newsletter, and randomly blogs.

Her historical romance, An Unsinkable Love, a truly Titanic love story with plenty of suspense, is available from Amazon in both e-book and paperback.

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7 thoughts on “Guest Post – Terri Benson: What’s a Writer to Do?

  1. Good morning, Terri! That’s a darned good summary of the challenges a writer faces in this market. There are more, but it’s a grey enough day without adding to the list. 🙂 I think it was Courtney Milan, a presenter at last fall’s RMFW conference, who gave some good advice on the topic of the myriad promotional hats a writer is asked to wear. The main message was this: do as many of them as you think are necessary, but try to focus by excelling at the promotional activities you most enjoy. If you love to blog, focus on that; if you love radio and television interviews, really go for it. Be good at perhaps two activities, but trying to be good at all promotional activities will leave nothing in the tank for the actual writing.

    • I’m in the middle of a huge project at work, and by the time I get home I feel like a wet noodle. Now I get to add the guilt of not writing to all the other things I’m not doing. But I’m positive it will all get better, and I’ll be fresh and ready to write soon.

  2. I agree! We need to be selective about the activities we choose and then limit the time we spend, even on our favorites. If we don’t make plenty of time to write, what good is the rest of that stuff?

  3. Many great authors have managed to get published without social media. If I’m a good enough writer, my work will stand on its own (at least, that’s what I’m telling myself!). I’ll spend as much time as I can promoting, but at this point, I’d really like to have time to write the thing that I want to promote.

  4. It’s easy to put pressure on ourselves to do what other successful authors say we “must” do in order to be successful. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. I like what Pat said about being selective and what Janet said about being good at two things, which makes it a little more doable and less stressful. Especially if those two things are enjoyable.

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