Are you are writer working on building your social media platform? Me, too!

It’s amazing how much work there is after you spend hours and days and months and years writing that novel, after revision and editing and re-revising and editing. Late nights, early mornings, weekends, all sacrificed to crafting and perfecting your masterpiece, making sure the word count doesn’t balloon into ridiculousity and you’re keeping your target audience in mind. Ensuring there’s tension on every page, a strong story arc, character development, proper grammar and punctuation, watching for repetitive word use and clichés, chapters ending in excitement, etc. Dang, sooo many processes go into creating a good novel—and that was just the tip of the iceberg! Then you let people rip it to shreds, which leads to more re-writes, which leads to more editing….

After all that, for me anyway, comes the really hard and scary part…writing that query letter and synopsis, researching agents, and hunting for that rare publisher that takes unsolicited submissions. Some want a one page synopsis, some want two. Some want a bio in that query letter. How do you sum up the soul of your labor of love in a one page business letter that may well go into a slush pile when an agent looks at the word count?

What Grinds My Gears (Family Guy) meme

Some agents want it mailed with a SAS envelope, some want it emailed but only in PDF, some won’t open attachments. And while you’re waiting on pins and needles, hoping and praying that you’re at least worthy of a rejection letter (as opposed to them being too busy to even respond), making sure you’re working on your blogging and twittering and amassing followers.

Wow, why do we do it?

No, seriously, why?

For me, it’s because I just love to write—have since I was nine. I love creating complex characters, delving deep into their inner workings, then putting them in impossible situations to see what they do. I love going for a run and having random inspirations pop into my head. Thank God for my notepad app or I’d probably forget them by the time I get back to my condo! I love the natural high I get when the words are just flowing onto the page and I know I’m creating something beautiful. I love scrolling through my finished manuscript, seeing what came from my brain and my soul.

Will I be able to break into traditional publishing? There’s a chance; there’s always a chance. I’ve been rejected for other novels dozens of times. If I do, great. If I don’t, well I’ve created something I’m pretty damn proud of anyway. Like I said, I just love to write.

So about that social media platform…. Follow me and I’ll follow you. We can go on this adventure together.

Why do you write?

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20 comments

  1. Andrew Conlon · April 23, 2014

    Great post, Sarah. I, too, have been a writer since an early age, and the reason I write is because I have to, as hard a it is and as much as I sometimes hate it, I have to tell the weird stories in my head. It’s catharsis. I was in the same boat as you trying to get a traditional publisher’s attention. After ten years I decided to self-publish since I got sick of waiting for someone else to tell me when I could do something and when I couldn’t. So I took matter into my own hands. I hope you meet your writing goals, and keep on at it. If you love it, writing gives rewards that are more valuable than recognition. It’s balm for the soul.

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 23, 2014

      Truth Andrew! Couldn’t say it better myself. That’s why it’s great to connect with fellow writers because, if nothing else, we get each other as no one else can 🙂

      Like

  2. Rose F · April 23, 2014

    I don’t have a deep complex answer. I write because I can’t NOT write.

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 23, 2014

      Exactly. Even if I get 1,000 rejections, that won’t stop me from writing.

      Like

  3. Natacha Guyot · April 23, 2014

    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write (since I learned how to, and even before that I loved telling stories anyway). I have let my original fiction fell to the wayside over the past few years for a focus on nonfiction/academic writing and I love it. Thank you for the follow and looking forward to get to know you through your blog! 🙂

    Like

  4. Shari Risoff · April 23, 2014

    Great post Sarah. Like everyone else here I write because I have to. I get all antsy if I can’t get the words out of my head. Best of luck on the traditional pub route but like Andrew I went for indie publishing for multiple reasons. You have to build your own platform and do your own marketing anyway, so if you have the ability to get the cover and editing done professionally it’s definitely a great way to go.

    Anyway – thank you for the follow, and I look forward to reading your work and hearing more about your life in Singapore!

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 23, 2014

      Thanks for the follow as well! I’ll write a post about the saga of Singapore soon haha. Also if you REALLY want to read a small sample of my work, I do have a like 10 page bit under “Novels” :P.

      Question: is indie publishing the same as self-publishing?

      Like

  5. pandajournals · April 23, 2014

    Personally I write because I love writing. I started telling stories when I was younger, and when I was in third grade I used the creative writing assignment notebook I had to write in as a way to create various stories. It only strengthen when I entered the forum roleplaying world at age 11. Though I have more of an attraction towards writing pieces for media rather than novels, I still can’t ignore the fact that I was a reader before I was a writer. Writing on a specific medium (Preferably games, but more than open to movies and animated television) just happens to blend multiple interests of mine together. Good luck on your journey — I’m sure your passion will shine through!

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 23, 2014

      Reading has been such a big part of my becoming a better writer. Thanks and good luck on yours as well!

      Like

  6. Mark · April 24, 2014

    I wonder if it has always been this way: where agents and publishers get the writer to do all the platform-building work. I wonder how many writers out there have the platform building done for them. Personally, I’d rather just write and not worry about the business side. Although, in saying that, running a blog is fun and I’d imagine serializing a story for the likes of Wattpad would be enjoyable too. it’s the self-promoting part that is somewhat off-putting to me.

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 24, 2014

      Yeah, I totally agree with you. I was totally peer pressured by my writer friends to start blogging otherwise I wouldn’t have. It makes you really wonder…what do agents do? Besides acting as a middle man. I’m sure they do a lot… right? God I hope so. I’m with you on the whole self-promotion thing. It feels icky and fake. But I will say that having a blog is turning out to be a lot of fun and a great way to make new writing friends! 🙂

      Like

  7. sebxiii · April 24, 2014

    When you put it down on the page like that it makes the whole endeavor seem ludicrous.

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 24, 2014

      Haha, well, let’s be honest. It kind of is. That’s why we’re not in it for the money, right? For the love of writing.

      Like

      • sebxiii · April 24, 2014

        On my part i think its pure pig stubbornness. Being fantastically dyslexic seems to have controlled a lot of my options in life. Mo police job for me , can’t study Medicine, bit I love to write so I forge ahead any way. Thou you would no believe the amount of little red squiggly lines under my writing on my Ywriter software.

        Like

  8. sjoycarlson · April 24, 2014

    That’s amazing (about persistence with writing, not the other stuff) ! Takes both stubbornness and courage for you to embark on writing adventures I’d imagine 🙂 Looking forward to reading your stuff.

    Like

  9. L. Palmer · April 24, 2014

    The key is to keep writing and improving until they say yes.

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · April 24, 2014

      Exactly! Learn from your previous attempts and keep improving:)

      Like

  10. Scott McPherson · May 1, 2014

    Sarah,

    Persistence does pay off, though you may want to go the self-publishing route. I sent out those query letters, synopses, and I even printed my 450 page novel manuscript twice to mail it to “old style” publishing companies. I rarely received a response or rejection. After one year I received a contract. The small company was all smiles and helpful. Their graphic artist was great and they helped with editing (though I had it largely cleaned up before they saw it). Then , once it was published it was like they just went away. Less then five hundred copies sold (2 1/2 years in print and e-book). They did not follow through with royalty statements. They did little to promote the book. They will expect you to arrive with your 10,000 followers before they sell your book.

    With my second novel, I published it through Amazon Createspace. It has been a blast and I don’t have to wait for royalty statements. I had more up-front costs, but I have turned a profit now. I am responsible for promotion now (learning the ropes). I would love to see a $10,000 advance offer from Baker books, but I don’t know if I will ever go the route of traditional publishing again. (my books are “A Step Ahead of Death” and “Congo Mission”)

    Scott

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · May 1, 2014

      Wow, great advice. And a sad truth. Thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry you had to learn it the hard way. I’ll definitely keep this in mind and thanks for stopping by.

      Like

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