By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Within the process of the Writing Life,
there is a great deal of routine and mundane tasks. How do you face these tasks?
Do you ignore them or move ahead and do them?
If I'm honest I love to tell
stories and write words into my computer. Then I send those stolries to editors
who see it is a fit for their publication, so they publish the material
published in magazines or books or online or another format. It sounds simple
but is much more complex.
While you may be writing the
stories for yourself, each writer has to understand they are writing for the
reader and have to have them clearly in their focus to capture the editor's
magazines require you write a one page pitch letter called a query
letter. You have to learn how to use words which catch attention. There are
thousands of these publications and you have to learn which ones will be a fit
for whatever you are pitching and reach that editor with your pitch. Often you
have to pitch numerous times before you find the right fit and this process can
be repetitive and boring—yet it is a necessary part of the business. If you
don't pitch, then you don't get the hearing and opportunity to be
The other specialized document
which every writer needs to learn to craft—whether they write fiction or
nonfiction is a
book proposal, which is your business plan for your book. The proposal
contains information which never appears in your manuscript but the various
gatekeepers like agents and editors use to make decisions. Even if you
self-publish your book, you still need a proposal.
There is often a lot of change
within editorial offices. You have to reach these new editors, develop your
relationships with them and pitch your ideas. Then when they agree to look at
it, your pitch has to be on track and something they will want. It sounds simple
but there are many places where the process can be stopped.
Also as an author, I have to use
a gentle follow-up when I don't get a response. Every editor or agent get a lot
of email and if you don't follow-up, it's easy for that pitch to slip through
the cracks and not happen. Your approach has to be gentle and not pushy—because
the easiest answer to get (and one you don't want) is “no thank you” or silence.
These follow-up skills are something everyone can develop but are often a part
of the mundance aspects or repetitive aspects of publishing.
Part of being an author is to
market my work in various ways such as email, social media, magazines,
media interviews or numerous other ways. As an author, I report my activities to
my publisher, who passes these activities on to our sales team who passes it on
to the bookstores. This communication process is important and what keeps my
books out in the bookstores (selling rather than getting returned). But filling
out these forms is routine and mundane—yet a necessary part of this business. At
the core, we are in the communication business and you have to communicate in
the expected manner.
These are just a few of the
routine tasks that I do in my writing life. I have a number of other routine
tasks that I do as an acquisitions editor. Even if I don't like them, I can't
ignore them because they are a part of the business. Much of what I do is
outside of my direct control.
Here's what I can do:
--be responsible for my own
--keep pitching and knocking on
new doors as well as places where I have established a
--keep doing the routine —even
when something crashes or gets cancelled (which has happened
--use the gentle follow-up when
you aren't getting response. It's what I have been doing over and over (yes
mundane) for years.
It's not easy but possible—if you
continue down the path. As I've written about some of the obstacles are my own
internal struggles. My advice is to just do it. Otherwise it often does not
How do you face the mundane
aspects of the writing life? Ignoring it will not make it go away. My
encouragement is to keep doing it. Let me know in the comments
Labels: action, book proposal, Facing the Mundane, magazine article, mindset, persistence, query, routine, Terry Whalin, The Writing Life