Friday, May 18, 2012

The Author Who Tries To Do Too Much, But Needs To Do More

We all try to juggle too many things but we struggle to get everything done because we’re driven to succeed.  We’ll look to cut corners, multi-task, delegate tasks, outsource or find a way to push back deadlines.  But we eventually confront our plight and conclude there simply are not enough hours in the day to complete all that we want to get done.

This is true at home, at work, and in all aspects of our lives.  But yet we start out each day eager to tackle an ever-expanding to do list.  By the end of the day we are back to confronting our limitations and shortcomings.  We vow to make adjustments, to change our ways, to declutter our calendars, and simplify our lifestyle. 

We keep thinking the solution will come from what we do, but really, it will come from what we think.  Once we visualize a new and better way to get things done we’ll move towards enacting such a utopia.

One thing that plagues all writers is their ability to funnel their thoughts into a singular targeted book while at the same time looking for a home for their excess thoughts.  Further, they are challenged to find a balance between writing, thinking about, and editing one book—while marketing and promoting another one.

How can an author balance their careers, home life, and writing?  One or more things has to suffer.  That’s the truth of it.  We rotate our desires and obligations.  There’s no way around it.

But I implore all writers to realize that part of the writing process comes with the promoting and marketing process.  If you don’t push your books, who will?  No sense in writing so many books if people don’t know about them, right?

The first step to manage your time better is to set better priorities.  If you dedicate, let’s say, an hour to writing tomorrow night, you have to borrow some time from that to promote your existing published books or to find a way to publish what you’ve written.  Otherwise you’re like Octomom, focused on reproducing but not in raising the kids you have.  Your books are your babies—nurture them!

I understand today’s writer has to carve out time just to write a book but without making time to blog, utilize social media to build your brand, or time to market and sell your books, you are dooming your professional writing career.  It’s literary suicide to ignore the crucial area of book marketing.   

The author of 2012 is one part writer, two-thirds marketer.  Take time for both.

Interview With Dylan Evans

  1. What type of books do you write?  I write non-fiction - mainly popular science and psychology, with bits of philosophy and economics thrown in

  1. What is your latest or upcoming book about? It's about risk intelligence - a special kind of intelligence for dealing with risk and uncertainty. It doesn’t correlate with IQ and most psychologists fail to spot it because it is found in a disparate group of people such as weather forecasters, professional gamblers and hedge-fund managers. This book shows just how important risk intelligence is. See

  1. What inspired you to write it? Lots of things! But one big reason was the financial crisis of 2007-8. The crisis made it clear that many people in positions that require high risk intelligence, such as financial regulators and bankers, seem unable to navigate doubt and uncertainty. They are overconfident, and think they know more than they do. I wrote this book to understand why that is, and to help people become more risk intelligent.

  1. What did you do before you became an author? I wrote my first book while I was a student, and I've divided my time between academia and industry since then, so I've never been a full-time author. I've recently started my own company.

  1. How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? I love being a published author! My advice to struggling writers is to hone your skills by writing for as many different outlets as possible - blogs, letters to the local newspaper, anything that will generate feedback and help you find news ways of reaching an audience.

  1. Where do you see book publishing heading? I think publishing is increasingly becoming a winner-takes-all game. Publishers increasingly try to market fewer, better tomes with greater energy. Ever more authors are left to small imprints or to self-publish. But this is not all bad. Thanks to social media, word of mouth spreads faster than ever before, giving unknown writers a better shot at being picked up by a big publisher.

Interview With Betty Webb

  1. What type of books do you write? I write the kind of books Publishers Weekly once said were "Mysteries with a social conscience." In other words, my plots revolve not just around murder, but various subjects such as polygamy ("Desert Wives" and "Desert Lost"); the abuse of eminent domain ("Desert Noir"); the changing face of publishing ("Desert Shadows"); female genital mutilation ("Desert Cut"); elder abuse ("Desert Run"; and the long-term effects of the Nevada A-bomb testing ("Desert Wind"). All these books are set in the American Southwest, where the above problems have cropped up.  

  1. What is your latest or upcoming book about? "Desert Wind" is actually about several things, but the main plot is wrapped around uranium mining near Arizona's Grand Canyon. Then I tie in all the deaths related to the filming of actor John Wayne's fabled turkey, "The Conqueror," (where he made a mess of playing Genghis Khan) and the large cancer clusters found in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. "Desert Wind" received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.     

  1. What inspired you to write it? In the middle of watching a John Wayne TV marathon one weekend, the emcee said that almost half the actors and film crew -- which included 300 Paiute Indians - died of cancer. I was intrigued, and after the movie was over, began doing some light research. What I found horrified me enough to eventually spend three years on additional research. I also traveled to the film site.

  1. What did you do before you became an author? I was a journalist for 20 years, and what I learned about research and interview techniques has served me well as a fiction writer whose books are all based on fact.

  1. How does it feel to be a published author? It depends. When I read good reviews of my books, I feel elated. When I read nasty reviews of my books (one reviewer connected to the uranium mining industry HATED "Desert Wind") I'm enraged. Being a published author is kind of a shcitzophrenic existence. 

  1. Any advice for struggling writers? Read at least 4 books a month -- the most successful writers are very heavy readers. And write for hours every single day, whether you feel like it or not. Most beginning writers don't spend nearly enough time at the computer because they're sitting around waiting for "inspiration." But "inspiration" never wrote a novel; hard work did.

  1. Where do you see book publishing heading? The obvious answer is that we're going to see more and more downloadable books. This is both terrific and terrible. Terrific because we're now able to take long vacations without dragging along shopping bags full of heavy books. Terrible because too many amateurish books are winding up on Kindle & Nook, and they're nestled right next to great books written by Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winners. The gatekeepers are gone, and it shows. But probably the most terrible thing about downloadable books is that they are driving bookstores out of business, especially the independents.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer.  You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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