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Writing Business

We’ve Always Done It This Way…or Not

Ava Pennington
Author, Ava Pennington

Hi, all – Ava Pennington here, with a note about shaking things up.
The publishing industry is moving faster than Doc Brown’s DeLorean, but not always in a good way. Stagnant sales, corporate restructurings, e-publishing, people reading less…the news can be discouraging. So what’s an author to do? One thing we should not do is approach our writing careers with an “I’ve always done it this way” attitude.


Anthony Robbins once said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” But that’s not true anymore, especially in publishing. Doing the same thing no longer gives us the same results.

It’s time to shake things up, and here’s how to do it…

Don’t believe all the gloom and doom.
More books are being sold today than ever before. Formats may change, but a book is still a book and there will always be a need for a good story and for nonfiction that changes lives.

Do your homework.
Paging through a five-year-old copy of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide won’t cut it. Make sure your reference information is up-to-date. Even then, the data in the current edition should be verified through publishers’ and agents’ websites.

Personalize
Sending a one-size-fits-all query to a dozen agents will yield a dozen rejections. Most agents are inundated with queries these days. One agent posted on her blog last January that she received more than 10,000 queries in 2010. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve already published. Learn agents’ and publishers’ submission requirements and adhere to them without exception.

Leave Your Comfort Zone
Someone once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Pursue marketing activities that force you to leave your comfort zone. For example, if you’ve always participated in on-line blog interviews, consider creating a YouTube video. If you’ve never pursued public speaking, approach local community groups and offer to speak at their next meeting.

Establish a Virtual Hub
Several years ago it was enough to have a static website. Today, your website must be one component in a multifaceted online package that includes a blog and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What’s missing from your online presence?

Invest in Your Career
Even multi-published authors need to leave their desks and connect with others in the industry. Nothing replaces face-time with agents, editors, and other writers.  Consider attending at least one writers’ conference a year. You may not see the pay-back in the first year, but networking produces long-term benefits that can be career-altering. If money is tight (and that applies to most of us!), then start saving now for 2012. Remember, it’s not a cost, it’s an investment.

Now it’s your turn. In what areas have you rid yourself of an “I’ve always done it this way” attitude?