I sat on the couch threading ribbon with beads, or inserting rhinestones, punching out a heart on each bookmark and attaching the ribbon through the space. They were a big hit at a recent multi-author book signing. I’m so used to eBook readers that I’d wondered about bookmarks and had only made 4 dozen. I think I came home with two.
Anyway, the job sounds simple, right? Not so much, because my shoulders are still sore. I blame it on the nearly thirty-year-old paper punch, it has become dull. Like its owner, perhaps? : )
The TV show, Shark Tank, came on. I’d never watched it before. The show was interesting, and I imagined my own small business (author trying to sell books) and how I would present it to this panel of entrepreneurs and savvy business people. That thought made me laugh out loud. They would know there’s no money to be made by investing in my product. I listened to several proposals and agreed 100% with the decisions.
I disliked the nasty, belittling comments, and admired the experts who were sensitive and empathetic, but who also said, “Sorry. I’ll pass.” Graciousness costs nothing. There is no need to humiliate another person. No need really to be a shark.
This all reminded me of sending out manuscripts and trying to get an editor or agent to see some promise. Instead, I got rejection after rejection. Many of those were nice, and some were helpful. Some were all “sharky” and ripped my work to shreds. However, I learned about my writing strengths, and my weaknesses.
The show ended, and I ruminated on what my next move could be in my still young career. I’m published with a digital-first press with four books, but they do go to print as print-on-demand. Should I try again for one of the big six publishing houses, or self-publish? Have I become lazy, not stretching and challenging myself?
So many questions, but how does one expand in the ever-changing publishing world? I think it goes beyond setting goals and making plans, or having a platform. Or being an avid reader, or diving into the independent publishing pool, or learning the ins and outs of social media and advertising in order to reach a larger audience. All of the above are valid aspects of the writer’s life, and necessary for success, but they aren’t THE answer. I do think it goes beyond writing the next book, or presenting your small business to the Shark Tank. ; )
We have to be willing to reinvent ourselves during our career. We have to remain flexible, engaged, and willing to change, otherwise we fail. We get left behind. Success with one book does not guarantee continued success. Each book must be as strong, or stronger, than the prior one. I think the answer is writing better. I want to write better. Not more. I’m a pretty fast writer, and I have a wealth of story ideas, but I’m often hungry to reach a wider audience with work that has greater depth and quality. Do I stay on the romance track and submit to agents again? Do I go back to college, attend a retreat, or do an online study program? Do I give up writing romance and try to write something that might take years to complete? I’m a sensitive soul. With any or all of these new challenges, would the added rejections make me hightail it to the mountains, licking wounds and skulking around in my rocky cave, creativity frozen forever? Should I be thankful for what I have and maintain the status quo?
What do you think? Come on. Give me your deep thoughts, and if you haven’t got any deep ones then give me shallow. Ha ha.