three-legged stool

Three-Legged Writing Stool

As a teenager I fanticized about what a writing life might be like. I imagined spending my days writing beautiful prose and gazing out the window at the horses I was sure I’d someday have. I have since written thousands of pages of prose. Whether it is beautiful or not is for others to judge. I don’t see horses outside the window, but the colorful birds I see are an adequate diversion from the computer screen.

I did not think about how my writing would get into print. That I learned in the Bowling Green School of Journalism. One professor required us to bring weekly receipts from the post office to prove we’d submitted our work to a potential buyer. By the end of that semester the habit of sending out weekly queries and manuscripts was well established.

Writing Is Only Step One

Today the options for getting one’s work in print are many. Writers can sell manuscripts to print or electronic magazines and blog posts. We can make pitches to agents who will hopefully find a great home for our literary masterpieces. Or we can pitch directly to publishing houses. In this day and age anyone with a computer and Internet access can publish a book. This is a mixed blessing. Authors are no longer blocked from the world of published books and millions of books are published every year by new authors. However, this means there is no quality control on what’s published. Additionally, it’s often very difficult to compete with thousands of new releases coming on-line each month.

I never thought about how much marketing my work would fall to me. When I sold my first book in 1985 the publishing house had a marketing department. I suppose authors like J. K. Rowling, John Grisham, or Danielle Steele still have marketing people to promote their books while they work on their next best seller. The rest of us either pay someone to promote us or get out there and market our work ourselves.

I struggle with the reality that in order to sell books, I have to market them myself. Selling Girl Scout cookies as a child made me a nervous wreck. When the various clubs to which I’ve belonged wanted us to sell things, I usually bought a few and gave them away. The reality that I have to sell my books myself strikes me as unfair. Shouldn’t it be enough to write the book? No, sadly, this is not enough.

Produce, Publish and Promote

I think of this whole process as a three-legged writing stool. All three legs need regular attention.

Leg One: Write. That part comes naturally. I love writing. Writing also includes reading – for pleasure and to study how others write. It also includes studying the craft of writing. This I accomplish through on-line courses, magazine articles, books, and workshops.

Leg Two: Publish. Or try to publish. It’s Writer’s Market for the win when it comes to finding potential markets. Subscriptions to the many on-line networks with links to places looking for manuscripts help in this effort. I recently sold an article to a place I learned about from such a source. Libraries and bookshops make great hunting grounds for places to pitch article length manuscripts.

To publish book-length manuscripts it helps to attend workshops or take some on-line courses about the complex and constantly evolving world of publishing today. The multiple options for self-publishing today make it possible for nearly anyone to publish. This also makes it easy for the inexperienced to be separated from large quantities of money with little return on their investment. Thousands of people make money writing, publishing and promoting today. A few of them actually produce the copy.

Leg Three: Market. Reach out to others to grow a social media platform and develop a writer’s community. Network with other authors to support and encourage each other. Self-marketing can also include cold calling on bookstores, sending out press releases, lining up speaking engagements and arranging for book signing events.

Join forces with people who actually think it’s fun to market what authors produce. Go to writing groups, workshops, conferences, and other networking opportunities. Keep at it. Word by word, query by query and one marketing effort at a time will yield progress over time. Progress in any one area supports efforts in the other two. It isn’t easy, but then few worthwhile things in life ever are.

Grow A Writing Community

Here are links to some people who have helped me along the way:

Sandy Lawrence of Perceptive Public Relations. She helps market authors’ work and offers on-line courses to teach authors how to market their own work. See what she has to offer at

Aimee Ravichandran of Abundantly Social.  She is a whiz with social media tips and techniques. Meet up with her at

Roger Leslie. He not only coaches, he also edits, teaches workshops and is himself a many-times over published author. Introduce yourself and tell him I sent you at

Rochelle Melander of Write Now! Coach.  She teaches, coaches writers, leads critique groups, has a helpful weekly writing blog, edits books, and has published books on the craft of writing. Visit her online at

Nancy Camden. She creates author websites and graphics to complement blog articles.

Who has helped you in your writing work? Give them a shout out here so we can expand our network of people who help us get our words out.

Next up – More about Sandy Lawrence and the results she gets from her Facebook launch parties for authors.

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