The indomitable Joe Konrath just published a new 'ThoughChat' with Barry Eisler, you can check it out here. As I was reading it, I noticed the list of his older posts, going all the way back to 2005. That alone impressed me - Joe was publishing blogs in 2005, years before I even had a clue about seriously publishing my own novels. More than that, his posts from 6 YEARS AGO still hold water today ... now that's impressive!
One of his blogs in particular hit me over the head. He titled it, "No Vacation for You." He published it on December 24, 2005. I'm gonna cut and paste it below, but you can check out his original post here.
I named this blog, "Paying your dues" 'cause I've been asked by several neo-pro writers lately questions like, "How did you get _The Watchman of Ephraim_ to hit #1 on Amazon's Geopolitical Bestseller's list?" and "How did you possibly pull off a 75-day blog tour?" and "Why are you trying to publish three full-length novels a year?" and "How can you possibly reply personally to every email and invitation you receive on every one of your social networking channels?" (I'm on a pace to have written over 27,000 personal messages to people connected with me on LinkedIn, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter in 2011). My answer to all the questions above has to do with two tenants that I truly believe are the keys to success in any field ...
#1 Paying your dues ... which to me means, doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, EVERY DAY, EVERY WEEK, EVERY MONTH, EVERY YEAR ... the not glamorous stuff, the sometimes difficult, sometimes boring, sometimes mundane stuff ... the stuff that usually no one sees you do, but needs to get done.
#2 "All things, all the time" - this is something my older brother Peter taught me. He made it to the top in his profession by out-hustling his peers ... getting in before everyone else and staying after everyone else leaves ... working while others watch football and baseball, while others spend a quiet day with their kids, while others go on vacation or just take the weekend/day/afternoon off. It also means that you have to get to everything. There's no time to just "study your craft" or just write or just promote or just ... anything! Remove the word "just" and you begin to understand what it takes to really make it as a self-publisher.
I have to tell you ... all of the successes in my life in business have come by living those two tenants, every day. Now I'm waist-deep in establishing my professional writing career. This is the fifth industry that I have worked in, in the last thirty years. I've achieved success in the music industry, manufacturing industry, transportation/logistics industry and financial industry ... and all of my successes are due to #1 and #2.
I simply don't know an easier way. Perhaps I'm not as smart as others or as talented as others but two thing I am ... are tenacious and methodical. I plan my work and work my plan and I never give up. I'm up at my desk around 5am every morning and I don't clock out until everything is done.
Well, apparently I'm not the only one. When I read Joe's blog, I smiled 'cause it seems he succeeded the same way I'm succeeding in publishing - 'paying his dues' and 'all things all the time.' The question you need to ask yourself after reading this is ... how bad do you want it?
Here's Joe Konrath's hard-hitting piece in its entirety: (my thanks to Joe ...)
Saturday, December 24, 2005
No Vacation for You
I haven't had a vacation in four years, and I don't expect one next year either.
This July, my family demanded some 'together time' so I took them up to a cabin in Michigan. Along the way I did signings. And I brought my laptop.
My two closest friends, whom I've known for 26 years, coerced me into taking a three day weekend off to go on brewery tours. I went with them, but managed to fit in a library event while they were boozing it up.
The kids have been off school for a week, and I managed to do some bonding. But I also did some editing, some writing, some website updating, and a few blog entries.
Am I missing out on life? In a word: Yes. And since misery loves company, I want you to miss out too.
Remember listening to your grandparents talk about the Great Depression? They used words like "Sacrifice" and "Hard work."
Writing involves sacrifice and hard work. That means denying yourself some things, like friends and family and free time. If you want to make it, you have to put in the hours.
I'm not going to argue that your writing is more important than your children---that isn't true. Family is far more important than career. But if your family loves you, they'll also understand how important your career is, and give you time to pursue it.
If you want to succeed in this biz, be prepared to make sacrifices and find the time to get things done.
Here's a handy list of some things you can sacrifice:
Now I fully expect some vehement disagreement. Replies that speak of values and priorities and happiness and importance, and examples of authors on the bestseller list who take plenty of time off. I'm sure plenty of folks will feel sorry for my family, or for me for not 'getting it.' Some of you will insist you can have your cake and eat it too, and some of you may indeed do that.
But the next time you're lamenting your career, ask yourself two questions: What have I done so far? & What have I sacrificed?
If you've never finished a novel, have only gotten 50 rejections, and plan on using the holiday break to relax, are you entitled to the disappointment you feel about the state of your writing career? Or if you published your book, then did minimal self-promotion, can you really feel betrayed that you sold so poorly?
Here's an axiom that no one likes, me included, but I adhere to it anyway:
"You can always do more."
And the next time you're relaxing, pick up a copy of Who's Who, or crack open a history book, and look at all of the successful, famous people that our society reveres. How many of them are in there for being good parents? For taking vacations? For watching a lot of television? For partying with friends?
Happy Holidays! I gotta get back to work.
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Dean Wesley Smith