Writing a novel is one part of the process of being published. Marketing is something else. Something I didn’t consider when I started out.

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Rowan in Batsford Arboretum knows how to adapt

If I had been going to open a coffee shop, I would have invested in a coffee-making machine, learned how to use it and first whether or not my town needed another cafe.

At a time when people are reading less books, self-publishing hits the scene.* The competition for publicity, to be read has increased. For most writers, writing alone is not a viable way of earning a living.

Even if you have an agent, much of the graft of selling is up to the author. Many writers depend on developing a social and media presence to find a market. That in itself can take several years. My knowledge of my own publisher, Cinnamon Press and of small poetry presses, suggests that this relies on persistent, diligent work. Books need reviews and not all readers have access to the internet or have an appetite to review. I have recently been reading Joanna Penn’s blog and listening to one of her podcasts and it is has taken her several years to develop a business to sustain her writing. And she is focused! One book a year, podcasts, blogs, talks, not to mention the actual writing and what that involves.

Work as a teacher and probation officer provided a regular salary. When the requirements of the job changed, there was training. A writer needs to keep up to date and it is easy to be left behind as trends come and go. Anyone who runs their own business knows how important it is to adapt and diversify.

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The tides bring the need to adapt

Some individuals thrive on the challenge, love risk taking. By temperament and upbringing, I am cautious. The inner journey is the hardest part. It means learning to identify opportunities for giving a reading, leading a workshop, giving a talk, putting myself out there when I’d rather stay at home in the comfort of the familiar.

That said, I am learning. Certainly not fast enough to earn a living but learning. That is satisfying. I meet and talk to readers and that I love. My reading has widened. I know more about the publishing world and how it’s changing, about the world of self-publishing and how diverse that is. At a time in my life when my world could be constricting, it’s expanding. That suits me.

Transitions like seasons are best seen as experiences rather than traumas.

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Hazel nuts in the early autumn

  • According to Publishers Weekly, number of fiction buyers has declined by 17%, while number of poetry readers has increased- largely in 17-25 age group.
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