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Friday, 31 January 2014

The Writer’s Priorities. Part 2

Portrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for He...
Portrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for Henry Thrale's Streatham Park gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Timing, they say, is all. An odd coincidence occurred today. I was due to write this post, as a follow-up to last week’s effort. But, I’d also determined I would enter at least 4 writing contest during the month, and I’d only managed 2 entries by yesterday. In preparing for the other two, I went online and discovered at the top of my emails an alert to the Writers’ Village blog I follow for its excellent advice and content. The subject matter was ‘A Simple Idea That Can Sell a MillionBooks’. Bearing in mind what I said last week about money as a motivator, I thought I should at least read the piece. If you click on the title, it’ll take you to it.

It was one of those posts, of which there are many these days, promoting the idea that money can be made from writing by doing a great deal of it and getting it published, more or less regardless of the quality. It’s a persuasive argument for a lot of would-be writers and there’s evidence that this approach does, indeed, earn its better practitioners money. I had to make a comment, of course.

So; back to the theme of this post. Priorities. Do you know what yours are? Are you driven by money? James Boswell, in his Life of Samuel Johnson, wrote, ‘No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money’. However, Samuel Johnson himself wrote, ‘The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it’.

My own primary aim is to increase my number of readers. It’s been suggested that the easiest way to do so is to charge nothing for the books. I do have a short story offered free; But, Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a bit of seasonal cheer to make readers smile. But it’s been proved, many times, that in general terms, people place little value on something that has no worth placed on it by the producer. So, I compromise and price my books at what seems a fair cost for the piece on offer. Before I place a piece to market, I spend as much time as is needed to make it the very best I can. My priority has been quality at the expense of quantity.

Perhaps I’ve been too concerned with this aspect, since it’s clear that many readers are not really concerned with the quality of the writing. I’m not sure, to be honest. But, in the interests of discovering whether my writing can stand the rigours of quantity and remain both accessible and readable, I’ve decided to devote this year to more in the way of quantity.

So far, I have 7 books available, published over a period of 5 years. This year I aim to produce a further 4 titles. Nothing like the quantity that many of the genre/formula-fitting writers produce, of course. But a challenge, if quality is to be maintained.

So, my priority for this year is to write, and publish, 4 new titles. This means that certain other activities will necessarily have to be curtailed. Much less time with Twitter, Facebook and the other social networks to which I contribute. But not a complete cessation, of course. I will still need to let people know about my writing, after all.

Last week, when I wrote the first part of this post, I had little idea where I would end up. I’ve now set my aims. Do you have targets, aims, priorities in your writing life? If so, please share them with us here.

Oh, and I will try to maintain a post each week here on the blog, of course.
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