One of my “Sisters in Crime,”* a talented editor, posted this quote on Facebook today:
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
– Steve Martin
Good advice for any field, she said. However, I’m going further. I’m making it my (new) motto.
Some things to know about writing books are:
- A gazillion other people are doing it;
- Not all of those other people are publishing independently (self-publishing) – about half of all books now are self-published, with the other half published by a small, medium, or large press;
- No matter who you are, how your work is published, or what you do, it’s very difficult to stand out (not be ignored) – and, if you’ve self-published anything, no matter how good it is, you’re likely to be viewed as not good enough;
- People are reading less and less (well, not everybody, but lots) and spending more time watching movies, TV, and on other media;
- Even if your work is really, really good, there’s no guarantee it will get noticed.
I’ve self-published fiction and nonfiction, and my (originally self-published) novel UNDERWATER was acquired and rereleased by a traditional publisher.** Somehow, they found it (I didn’t approach them). Was it so good that they – “they” – couldn’t ignore it? I don’t know, but I did the best job I could, writing it.
My next book (ALL THE ABOVE) was already written, edited, and ready for publication when that novel was rereleased. But I waited a few months before publishing it, myself. I wanted it to be so good that it wouldn’t get ignored.
Over the previous two years, I had poured my heart into writing ALL THE ABOVE. I got feedback from my writers’ group, beta readers, and my freelance editor. I made all the recommended changes. I combed through it for mistakes and typos. I paid attention to the details. I wrote the back cover copy, and approved the design created by my cover artist. Last March, I released it in paperback and on Kindle. Since then, it’s been selling steadily and has received 24 Reviews on Amazon.
It’s hard to get noticed, to stand out, and not to be ignored. But I’m inspired now, to be so good that they can’t ignore me.
One word at a time.
*A national mystery/thriller writers organization
**Thomas & Mercer