5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How to Keep On Keepin’ On by Sarah Raplee

Hi, I'm Sarah Raplee, author of paranormal romantic suspense novels.

I have long believed (and said many times) that the key to success as a writer is to keep on keepin’ on. Persistence is at least as important as talent—probably more important. What good is talent if a writer quits writing?

But how does a writer keep going when there’s a figurative wolf at the door and a literal mountain of bills she can’t pay?

First, she needs to decide why she writes.

If it’s because she wants to pay those bills and chase that wolf away, there are lots easier ways to earn a living. Like building houses, or parting out cars, or nuclear waste cleanup, or ANYTHING that does not involve the arts. Just sayin’…

I write because I can’t help it, and it’s more fun than most of the alternatives. I want to entertain people with stories that leave them feeling hopeful, because people need hope for a brighter future.

The study of the writer’s craft is necessary to continue to grow as a writer. I’ll hang out with and support other writers, because they are my Tribe. 

And I’ll study the publishing business, including new technologies, and the business of helping targeted readers discover my books. If no one reads my stories, I can’t entertain anyone. If you want to reach an audience, “I just want to write good books!” is a cop out in today’s world. Begs the question, how strong is your motivation to keep on keepin’on?

Even if I do all these things, I may never sell—or even give away—many books. But I’ll touch some lives in a positive way, learn and grow as a person and have a lot of fun before retiring to that Great Library on the Other Side.

Just sayin’. ~ Sarah


Judith Ashley said...

Persistence in its many forms from actually sitting down at the computer and writing (or as you well know, taking pen in hand and putting words on a page), through revisions, edits, creating a cover (or paying someone to do it for you), writing a bio, blurb, tag line, longer bio, promo blog posts, promo guest posts, etc. all comes before or at the very least along side of the learning about publishing, promotion, marketing. Even if a writer is traditionally published, the onus of marketing and promotion falls to her (or him).

Love the sentence "If you want to reach an audience, :"I just want to write good books!" is a cop out in today's world. Very true words.

I've read your books and short stories. They do touch lives (mine included) in positive ways. Glad to be on this journey with you!!!

Diana McCollum said...

Great post! While persistence is important, so is deciding if you actually want a career in writing or it's just a hobby. I wish I could aspire to do what my career writer friends do to be successful. Paty, Maggie, Marie etc. all treat writing not only as a "love of what their doing" but as a job. Marie for example: 1) gets her kids off to school. 2) sits and writes for a minimum of 4 hours. 3) breaks for lunch 4) writes for 3 more hours. 5) time with kids , supper, and for Marie, a couple hours after the kids go to bed. That's how she is able to produce a novel in 6 weeks! Me, I don't have that kind of dedication. But I have turned over a new leaf to write for 2 to 3 hours daily in the morning. and another hour in the afternoon. Enjoyed your post!!! Best of luck to you to get 'BIC'!

Sarah Raplee said...

Judith and Diana, You both make good points. I am glad to be on this journey with both of you!

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

Love the graphics, Sarah! Yes, I firmly believe in persistence. That's what kept me in the game despite years of illness that included brain fog. I never gave up hope I'd write again. And I do want to be read. Though I've abandoned any dreams of being a bestseller. I don't have enough years left to get that far. But selling books to readers who want to read what I write--that's the dream I'm going for now.

Sarah Raplee said...

I hear you, Barb! I'm one of those who wants to read what you write. Glad you hung in there!

Maggie Lynch said...

You hit the proverbial nail on the head in this article, Sarah when you said to remember WHY you write. That is so important, and I think the answer to that question also informs how you manage the time for it and how you approach what you want to write.

Over the past three to four years, I've had several author friends invite me to write in their very popular genre so they can help me to grow faster and make more money faster--in other words get some of their readers. Though I appreciate their kindness and generosity in helping me, I find that it bumps up against why I write. For example, I love to read well-written vampires and werewolves, or angels and demons written by my friends, but I can't see myself writing them. I just don't have a calling to write them and I don't really buy in to the mythology. I am intrigued by the rise and popularity of erotica, but I can't write it because I don't buy into the belief that we can be completely happy sexual beings without love. In fact, for me, sex is a lot better with someone I am madly in love with and he with me.

That doesn't mean I begrudge them their success or judge that their writing is all about the money. I know that they genuinely love writing those stories and they are very good at it. But I don't love writing those stories. Writing is hard enough doing it with what I love to write. I can't imagine putting in the long, lonely hours writing something that is just meh for me.

I began writing stories around age nine (and plays and musicals and songs) to have a voice in a large family with many louder voices than my own. I still carry that as the primary reason I write. In our media-driven world there are thousands of stories that don't reflect me, my values, or what I believe helps make life more bearable and worth living. I write to have a voice on topics that are dear to me and that I hope will give voice to my readers who have similar feelings and experiences as well. I write stories that are all about coming of age--whether that is becoming an adult at 18 to 21, becoming a functioning parent and family member in the mid 30's to 50's, or coming face-to-face with an aging body and aging dreams. Every step of our lives requires us to make decisions. Every fork in the road we make a choice and that choice shapes the next fork and the next and the next. Those are the stories I want to write. Stories that show decision and consequence and that no decision is easy, but it is that messiness that can make us stronger and happier. And love. Every book I write contains lots of love--whether romantic, familial, friendship, self-love or spiritual love--I truly believe that love is what ultimately makes life bearable.

I am one of those people who want/count on making an income off my writing. That income literally pays a number of bills. Sometimes that pressure is all consuming. But then I felt the same pressure when I was a teacher, a counselor, a consultant, and even today when I do a three hour workshop for writers. It seems that, for me, everything I do could have been just a little better...just a little more strategic or poignant or name it.

Though I do like money and need it to pay the bills, what really makes my day as a writer are people who write and tell me they loved my story or it made a difference in their lives. In the starting out years of my career, I only had two or three people tell me that. But those few comments kept me going through the years of making $200 or $300 a year on my writing. Still today, when I get a positive comment from a reader it is the fire that keeps me going through the tough times--the tough times of writing and the tough times of life in general.