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Writing Strengths and Weaknesses

I read something interesting the other day and thought it would be useful to share with other writers. Actually, it doesn’t apply to just writers; people running any kind of business could benefit from these three steps of advice.
I don’t know who wrote it other than that they were credited by Bob and Debby Gass in their daily devotional booklet as a `well-known business leader.’ A very wise one I would say, so before we look at it in more depth, here are the three (paraphrased) points.

1. Spend 75 per cent of your time and energy on developing your strengths. Effective leaders/writers who reach their potential spend more time on what they do well than on what they do badly.

2. Spend 20 per cent of your time on new things. If you want to get better at what you do you have to keep changing and improving. That means stepping out into new areas. If you dedicate  time to new things related to your strong areas, you will grow as a leader/writer.

3. Spend 5 percent on areas of weakness. Nobody can entirely avoid working in their areas of weakness (not talking about character flaws here). The key is to delegate to people the things that you’re not particularly good at and they are. That leaves you free to concentrate in the areas of your natural God-given strengths.

I don’t know about you, but reading that rang several bells with me. Today, as opposed to ten – twenty years ago when there were far fewer people writing books, the competition is greater and fiercer than ever before. To become a published author any other way than by self-publishing has turned into an impossible dream for most.

The Good Old Days

Once upon a time – before the internet crashed into our lives and became a major player in just about every industry in the world – a person would write a book then send it off to a publisher, or an agent. They would then be either accepted or rejected. But there were many other publishing companies and writers’ agents so if it was a rejection they received and they believed their book was worthy of publication, they would then move on to the next name on their list or, equally, send the manuscript off (by expensive snail mail) to several on the list; a costly exercise if there wasn’t an acceptance by the first one or two attempts. For many, however, it was worth it. Because there were so few ( in comparison) book authors, their chances of being accepted for traditional publishing were a lot higher than today.

The great thing about being accepted by a traditional publisher or agent (back then) was that the writer was then free to go back to his/her typewriter and start pounding out the next book. The thing they did best. There was little call for them to do much else other than to participate in book readings and signings and have meetings with their agent or publisher and make certain script changes. It all makes sense when we look at point one above. The thing dedicated writers do best is write, so under the old system that meant they were then free to do what their life was all about, spend at least 75% of their time writing.

Unfortunately, things have changed. Now, lucky are the writers who also excel at marketing, public speaking, editing, selling, cover creation and all the myriad of other duties that come with having a book published. Because no longer (unless you are  Stephen King or TJ Rowling or the like) do the agent and publisher (Hooray, you’ve been accepted, someone likes your book) step in and take over all those other dreaded duties (you’re a writer after all, not a multi-tasking robot).
Today, whether traditionally or self-published, the writer is expected to do all these other functions and more and that is where so many become unstuck.
“I’m a writer,” you say, “not a marketer, not a public speaker and I’m hopeless at social media and while I have stories to tell, I’m no editor or formatter and I don’t want to do all those other things. All I want to do is write.”

Internet

But the internet is a new world and let me say that you are not alone. Today there are thousands upon thousands of people writing books and, because there are so many, the internet book industry is growing exponentially.
Why? Because now it is so easy to become an Indie author, someone who publishes their own books.
With the emergence of online sites such as Amazon, BookBaby, Lulu, Smashwords and many others, there for the sole purpose of assisting writers with intricate publishing software systems, developed to make the process of putting your precious book online for all to see, literally millions of books are flooding onto the market. Readers are being spoilt for choice; ebooks can be instantly downloaded to their reading device at substantially lower prices than hard copy bought retail, and often even for FREE.
In the last few years, self-publishing online has become one of the fastest growing enterprises of the 21st century. The whole face of the book industry has changed and continues to develop and restructure itself, with industry giants facing off in court over pricing ethics and manipulation of writers’ rights.

But back to the points we started with. We know that, as writers, we simply cannot do everything that is needed to be successful and have the public panting to read our books. At least most can’t, but there are some amazing multi-taskers out there in the book world who will question why others can’t do the same.
The fact is we are all different and the 70% may be only 40 – 50%, or less, for some who prefer to spread their talents across a wider board and do more time on the promotion.

What we can do is to take on board the three points, 75% of our time to write; 20% learning as much as we can about the industry and the internet and what both internet and traditional publishing can teach us; and 5% on our weak points, trying to improve the areas where we let ourselves down.
If it’s public speaking and the very thought gives you the cold chills, be brave – go to your local library and offer to do a reading from one of your books. Practise beforehand on your family until you feel less nervous. Or, if it’s social media, set aside an hour or two a week to read about the workings of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social sites you might need to know about.
If it’s editing – and any writer would be advised to ensure their book is edit-fit before releasing it on an agent, a publisher or the general public – then if you can’t afford a professional edit, either go through it yourself with a fine tooth comb again and again and/or ask a friend of family member to read it and point out any areas they think are in need of attention.

One way or another, work on those weaknesses and keep building on your strengths, they are what will see you through in the end.

If you have already placed your book/s in an online store and are looking for somewhere else to promote, try www.beezeebooks.com It’s a promo site for Indie authors and proving an excellent place for both experienced and new authors to promote their books.

Good luck – and may success be your friend.

Amelie

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