Motivation & Professionalism, by Paul Karaffa


Writers are some of the most motivated people in the workforce. Why? Because most of them come home after a long day sitting in front of their computer to do it again for another three or four hours. Sometimes they will skip dinner altogether and guiltily substitute a bucket of ice cream, because they simply don’t have the time to do anything else but scoop the remnants out of the bottom. It’s insane! So why would anyone ever make the assumption that writers aren’t motivated? Well, because when it comes to engaging with publishers and editors, they don’t! When it comes to building a website, they don’t! When it comes to picking up a book on how to engage writing markets, they don’t! And most importantly, when it comes to thinking outside the box, they DON’T!

So, let’s back up. Writers are some of the most motivated writers, but not very motivated in their industry. Unfortunately, these two go hand-in-hand. If you write the greatest novel ever and then just pass it in an email to your friends and family, then, sure, you can separate the two and never share your genius with the world. But don’t forget about the Gods of Comeuppance…

Get motivated! Don’t expect publishers to blast through your door with million dollar contracts. It isn’t going to happen! So, splurge $50 for a 5-year website domain; blow $25 for an easy website building program; and spend a week of your time building a website, setting up a Facebook & Twitter account, and notifying everyone you know. Too much to ask? Is no more than $100 and a week of your time too much to ask? You probably spend that in one therapy session for all the rejection blows you have/will receive. Do it. Don’t wait. Do it. Get motivated. Enhance your career by using means outside the realm of just writing.

This leads us to professionalism. As you may have already guessed in that creative brain of yours, a website, Facebook, and Twitter account are professional in the sense that it shows publishers that you engage with fans and are proactive in the industry. And if you’re really patient you can make a video for youtube. But that doesn’t mean that they will take you seriously. Not at all, actually. Your website and social media shouldn’t be “fun.” It should be Professional. That’s right! I capitalized the “P”! Explain what your writing history is, your credentials, new stories/novels you are working on, answer questions from fans. You don’t have to be stiff, but you have to present yourself in a way that makes your reader (and possibly publisher) sigh with relief and think “Wow, this person is the real deal.”

I will never forget the first pitch session I ever attended. I wore a suit. No one else did. No one. When I went to give my pitch, to an editor at Penguin, the first thing I noticed was that he also was wearing a suit. In fact, when I went into the pitch room, ALL of the editors were wearing suits! They take their job seriously, and they want you to do the same. The editor at Penguin requested my full manuscript, along with four other major publishing houses, nearly on the spot. Many other authors pitching their manuscripts were not so lucky. Let’s be honest, would you hand over a $10,000 check and invest up to $50,000 on publishing a book by an author that wore jeans, sneakers, and a shirt that said “I like vampires. Now suck it!” Hmmm… let me think…

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Posted in 2011, Author's Resource, Non-Fiction
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