One of the things I have struggled with throughout my writing career is the nagging fear that I may not be working hard enough. People who realize great success in this world tend to fight their way to the top, they don’t simply ascend to it, so working extremely hard to get what I want has always been part of my great Master Plan.
For the most part, I think I have worked hard: I’ve put in long hours, rewritten my work endlessly, and cultivated relationships with dozens of people capable of moving my career forward. I’ve done things to promote my writing that have forced me completely out of my comfort zone, and I’ve done scores of readings and signings for no other reason than to avoid the bad karma of declining.
But I don’t work sixteen-hour days.
I don’t Tweet.
I don’t push myself to write X number of books in Y number of months.
I don’t do cold calls seeking reviews or reads or meetings.
I don’t blog on multiple websites.
I don’t follow book-industry news on a daily basis just to keep up with the latest developments in e-publishing.
I don’t attempt to sell myself to anyone I don’t have reason to believe will be at least vaguely interested in buying.
I have my reasons for all these “don’ts,” of course:
I’m a married father of two pre-teen children who needs his sleep.
I’m on a very limited budget.
Self-promotion makes me feel like an ass.
I have a low tolerance for rejection.
All of the above would be fine if I were selling my work in decent numbers regardless, but I’m not. As I’ve alluded to here on occasion, I’ve been writing from the depths of a career downtrend for a while now, so if ever there was a time to pull out all the stops to get ahead, this would be it. The trouble is, I feel like I am pulling out all the stops. The effort I’m making now to grow my career feels like everything I’ve got to give, despite all the things I’m not doing that so many writers today are.
But maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe I’m in denial. Lazy slackers are always the last to realize they are lazy slackers, so maybe I have a lot more to give in terms of elbow grease than I’ve simply been willing to admit.
Maybe what feels like 110% effort to me is in fact only about 85 percent, relative to the real ass-kickers in our business.
If so, I’ve got to find that extra 25% somewhere, and fast. Because my desire to succeed as an author is as strong today as it’s ever been. Despite all the seeming evidence of sloth and indifference to the contrary.