The Best Way to Sell Stories is to Feed the Beast…

I’ve had better mornings. I had to meet a client with an emergency on my day off, and I just got a phone call from the garage where I left my car for inspection and I’m going to need $700 worth of work in order to pass. I went to make ‘feel sorry for me’ cheese and garlic biscuits for a late breakfast, and I discovered I was all out of biscuit mix. And stuck at home with no car.

BrowniesI made brownies instead.

Yeah, it’s been that kind of morning. Well, week, really. Okay, month.

As of today, I will have spent over $1400 on the car this month to keep it running–last week, I had a flat tire on the way to work that necessitated buying an entire new set without being able to shop around for the best price. I’ve been trying my best to get new health insurance coverage but the national website is such a piece of crap that not even my IT boyfriend can get my identity verified. A word of advice, GOP. If you’d just shut up and sat on your hands a bit longer (like you normally do) you wouldn’t have had to shut down the government to stop Obamacare. The website alone will do that and you wouldn’t have terminally shot yourself in the foot in the meantime.

Too bad I’d rather that the GOP shot itself in the foot AND that I had health care coverage. I have until Nov 1 to get through on the national site and pick another plan, or else I will be forced to decide whether to let my coverage go or sell a body part in order to pay my premium. Because yeah, the car and the health care payment cost roughly the same.

Which is why, though I don’t plan on making a habit of it, brownies for lunch seemed like a fine idea to me.

Because sometimes, you just need chocolate. As usual, this got me thinking about writing (What? Doesn’t *everything* lead to writing in the end?) and what kind of ‘food’ I provide. Nourishing? Not hardly. But will it get you through a bad day? Yes. Oh yes.

I thought about the emails I’ve received from readers who tell me that reading my stories helps take them out of themselves for a few hours, to make them unaware of the pain for a while, be it physical or emotional. These are people who hurt all the time. Some have chronic injuries or illnesses. Others struggle to work full time jobs and care for ailing parents, or small children, or both. Others have just had a crappy day in which the boss yelled at them again, or they found out their hours are being cut.

Sometimes you just need a plate of brownies, still gooey from the warm oven. Sometimes you need a story that won’t necessarily challenge your brain, even if it makes you think. A story that hurts so good when you’re reading it, but you know it’s going to turn out all right in the end and that’s the whole reason you picked up this book by this author because that’s exactly what you needed right now. Dialog with sparks to make you laugh and care about these characters, and an ending that feels just like that warm brownie now residing in your stomach. Yeah. Like that.

I was talking with my critique group this past weekend, and the subject of making a living as writers came up. In short, there seems to be only two ways of doing so. You either get lucky and have a runaway bestseller like 50 Shades of Grey, or you write a lot, publish often, build a loyal readership–and feed them. Feed them often.

Just this morning, I was speaking with someone on Facebook about the likelihood of my making it to one of the writer’s conventions this year, and the answer is no, it’s not likely. ย I can’t justify the cost in terms of return on investment. As much as I would love to go to one of the big conventions (or hell, even a little one!) I simply can’t afford it right now. Where I need to concentrate my time is on the next book, the next story. If I’m only producing one story a year, no one is even going to remember my name. Time enough to worry about networking (and just plain having a blast!) when I have something to promote.

Now wait a minute! I can hear you saying, “No, no, Sarah, you’re doing it all wrong! Networking is how you build your audience!” Well, yes and no. I can tell you right now that if I had back the hours I spent frittering around on Facebook, Twitter, Live Journal andTumblr, I could have written another novel this year. Granted, I frittered away that time in part because I wasn’t in a mind-set to do any real writing, but frittering is an insidious habit. It’s addictive, this social media thing. This desire to always be in connection with people all over the world more than the people in the same room with you. And when I was writing fanfic, I produced a novella a month–and did no promotion at all. People found my work because they told each other about it and I made friends with them *after* they found my work. So yeah, I think the key here to making the party happy is to keep baking brownies.

Spring Porch CatsI’ve written on the subject before, but I came across another good post on writing more and talking less.ย Actually, I might get my own words put to the test in the near future as I find myself with more time than ever to write and not enough money to pay the bills. It’s going to be interesting times around here, folks, in the Chinese curse sort of way. I’m still relatively calm about it, but that may be because I am full of brownies at the moment. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still, I think it is important for me to pull back now and take my own advice on writing more and talking less. Making more brownies, so to speak. Putting out plates of food for the hungry fans and feeding them. Heck, you don’t ever have to LOOK for stray cats. They show up, you feed them, and more appear. I think that’s how it’s really done. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Boys of Summer400x600It could also be because I found out today that the cover for The Boys of Summer has made it to round three of voting in the Rainbow Cover Awards! Well, look at it, it’s a fabulous cover, right? It deserves to keep going! So trot over to the website and look at all the lovely covers and vote for your favorites! You might even find some books to add to your TBR list–I know I have! This contest is for covers only, this is separate from the 2013 Rainbow Awards, for which The Boys of Summer is also a finalist! The winners on that awards list will be announced sometime in December.

Merissa McCain‘s Paranormal Month continues with guest posts from various authors. I’ve been sadly remiss in participating here; I feel badly about this, but I am terribly over-committed at the moment. I’ve been furiously writing blog posts and answering interview questions for my blog tour that starts in December–I have so much to do before my deadlines! Here are the latest links on her website, however. Do go and join in the conversations over there. You’d be doing me a big favor! The newest posts are from Jordan K. Rose and Jane Wakely. I have a post coming up on Oct 30th, if you’re keeping track.

UnspeakableWordsThe other bit of ‘make me smile’ news is that I received a wonderful review for Unspeakable Words by Christy Duke for The Rainbow Book Reviews! One of the delightful things she said was that she hoped for a sequel! Well, I’m working hard on that as we speak. I’m about halfway through the first draft and let me tell you, I’ve done terrible things to the boys. *rubs hands together evilly* But rest assured, like that plate of brownies, Walk a Mile will leave you with a warm feeling in the end.

But in order to get there, I need to write. That’s been hard for me this past year, but it is getting easier. The ย more I work at it, the easier it gets, like getting water to flow from a rusty pipe. You might not want to drink it at first, but eventually it runs cool and clear. So yeah, less talk. More writing. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you. It means I want to hear less from me.

At least, not until I have something cool to say. ๐Ÿ˜‰





6 thoughts on “The Best Way to Sell Stories is to Feed the Beast…

    • I know. It’s discouraging sometimes. I really didn’t want to put the ‘starving artist’ thing quite to this test. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The most frustrating thing is I’ve been one of the biggest supporters of the Affordable Health Care Act and now I can’t even get the website to acknowledge me. I’ve gotten less than terrific help from the support line too. Mostly, ‘try again later’. It’s been 2 freakin’ weeks of me trying now!!
      Sarah Madison recently posted..The Best Way to Sell Stories is to Feed the Beast…My Profile

  1. Hmmm, yep, brownies sound pretty good right about now! *iz distracted by brownie lust*

    You’re right, though–feeding The Beast (aka your fans) *is* important, and I’m glad you’re going to have some time to do that, although this is NOT the way I’d’ve wished for you to get that extra time :-/

    But I’m looking forward to more of your brownies/stories ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yeah, having my hours cut is really a mixed blessing. The pace at which I was working wasn’t sustainable and yet I was just starting to make a dent in the bills. Now two unplanned expenses in a row and I’m wondering where my health care premium is going to come from.

      But it is what it is. I’m going to make the most of this opportunity of working less hours to write more. I’ve got nothing (else) to lose! ๐Ÿ˜€
      Sarah Madison recently posted..The Best Way to Sell Stories is to Feed the Beast…My Profile

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