One of the things we talk a lot about here on SVP is how introverts can make marketing work for them, how it’s important to find what you can do comfortably and let go of the rest. I was struck again this week by just how important—critically important—it is to find one’s comfort zone and stick with it.
I’m on an email list with some other kids’ authors and this week they started talking about burn out; as in, how incredibly burnt out they are. They are scrambling all the time, booking events and school visits, promoting their books, worried because they have to carry most of this load themselves, with their publishers providing little material—indeed, even moral—support. And they’re tired, and frustrated, and at this point in their career, they are beginning to question if it’s worth it and if writing is even something they want to be doing.
And there, in a nutshell, is why balance is so vital. It’s a juggling act every writer needs to perform, weighing the needs of a creative endeavor like writing against the business demands of publishing. The two do not mix well, sort of like putting ground up liver in your brownies.
But here’s the thing; for most writers, writing is an act that feeds our soul. The act of writing, while it may be horrendously difficult sometimes, fills some deep, creative need within us. This is a gift we’ve been given in this life, and we need to cherish that and nurture that. And that often means striking some kind of devil’s bargain with Publishing. Because the very last thing we want to happen is for Publishing to destroy our love of Writing. And it can happen.
Interestingly, just like in relationships, it is often the person who wants it the most who has the least power. The more desperate you are to be published, stay published, etc. the more subject to the random vagaries of publishing you will be.
Luckily, there are ways to structure your writing life to minimize this sense of desperation and burn out. One critical way is to find your comfort level with promotion, and do that and no more. You really don’t want to make yourself sick and run down from forcing yourself to do things associated with your writing career that you hate. Soon that negativity leaches over into your writing, which is the kiss of death.
One of my most beloved rules about writing is this: Protect the work. That is our job as writers, to protect our creative work from negative or corrosive forces. You have to come to terms with publishing and marketing in such a way that it protects your work; even, or maybe especially, from the rough and tumble affects of publishing.
You need to protect yourself, too. Step back from the edge, take a deep breath, remember cream rises, and that for most of us, it takes time to build a marketing presence in the book world.