Ham Death, Marketing, Win Some, Lose Some

This book is trying to kill me. Yes, it’s Dru 5. I even have a tentative title: Sacrifice. Chills the blood, doesn’t it? This morning I realized I had to answer a thorny question about What Happened To One Particular Character, and internal consistency demanded I go for a transfusion instead of an aesthetically-pleasing biting scene. *sigh* Plus, I’m in the “this book sucks so hard nobody will ever want to read it, woe is me” phase. The only cure is completing the damn thing and putting it in a drawer for a couple weeks to a month while I work on something else.

So, while I’m bashing at the book and muttering “die, die, DIE!” under my breath, here’s a few links:

* Maggie Stiefvater on Death By Ham. She makes the point that a good book has a good chance.

I never said that what they were writing was good.

I also never said that these people researched the market, read Writer’s Digest, and figured out how to write query letters and where to send them to. I never said these people were voracious and critical readers and worked constantly on honing their writing craft. I never said that these people sat down and wrote four books and then wrote a fifth book and said this is the one, this is finally getting good.

Because I would venture to say that if we were talking about the publishing odds of that population, those people who live in that paragraph right above this one, we’d be having a different conversation entirely.

And that conversation would go like this: if you write a good book and follow the rules of submitting manuscripts and stick to it, you will eventually find someone who loves that book and will put it between real covers. The statistics might not be 100%, but I’m going to go with at least over 90%. Good books get found. Good books don’t languish in agent slush piles. –Maggie Stiefvater

I agree completely. The initial stages of the process of trad publishing are to largely to winnow out the Speshul Snowflakes and find out whether you can turn in a decent book, follow directions, and act like a professional human being. If you can do those things, you stand a very good chance of getting published.

* Mike Duran on “When does self-promotion become Too Much?” (via Jess Hartley). My own rule of thumb is that my site and blog (not to mention Twitter stream) must be 80% crunchy content (that is, actual content I feel has value instead of being a cheap shill-cry for “mememememe buymybooks buybuybuy!”); 10% marketing, and 10% random WTF. (The last ten percent is just for my own amusement.) Even then, I try to shut up about the marketing unless I honestly have something to say: a book launch, an interview, announcements fans have asked me for, that sort of thing.

Part of this is that I’m highly uncomfortable with hard-sell tactics. (Yes, I’ll link that post about why the hard sell doesn’t work again. It’s still relevant.) I was always uncomfortable with them, as a customer and even while working retail. I point-blank refused to engage in aggressive selling on quite a few of my retail jobs, and I never had any trouble meeting any quotas. Customer service does not have to mean high-pressure; it means being responsive and offering choices. I figure one has a better chance of building a loyal fan or customer base if you don’t insult their intelligence, which is what constant self-promotion basically is. (With a heavy helping of arrogance. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)

The 80-10-10 rule isn’t hard and fast. Sometimes I have a LOT of stuff to announce, and it feels to me like I’m shilling. And I’m sure a lot of people would say my idea of “worthwhile content” is lame. But oh well.

* And just to fulfill the 10% quota of random WTF, here’s a Snickers cocktail recipe, courtesy of Laura Anne Gilman. I love that woman.

It’s taken me a couple hours to finish this post, mostly because I zoomed out the door to catch an open climb midway. After yesterday’s utter triumph, today was a comedy of falling off the wall and swearing under my breath. Oh well–win some, lose some.

Now I’ve got to go get closer to the end of this book. See you around.

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