The 20 Percent Solution

I have a novel that is very nearly ready for the big time – the Big Time being self-publishing online. I even have a cover for said novel, and am attempting to convert the insides to a format the web will accept.

The next step (well, once it’s ready to launch), is getting the word out.

However, you can hear me whining from across the room. “I’m a writer, why do I have to sell? Shouldn’t I be writing?”

Yes, I should, but I’ve come to believe taking your work to the next level is really not that difficult. Even if you’re picked up by an agent, they’ll expect you to do some of the work. Anyone pitching a book (and a few other things I can think of) will need two things – a passion and a plan.

The passion part is easy. I really, really love my book. I like how I took a tiny piece of my Real Life, folded in a ridiculous premise, stirred gently with some over-the-top characters, added a few unlikely situations, and voila! VIRTUALLY YOURS  was born. I must have the passion. I’ve entered VY into contests and placed. When asked about my hobbies, I mention, “Oh, yes, I write novels in my spare time.” (!!! What spare time???) I go full bore into the story line, which isn’t hard to do. I’ve been elevator pitching anyone with ears since I wrote the last two words “The End.” The positive feedback is that I’m often asked when it will be coming out or could they read it.

But I know my passion isn’t going to see me through. It’s going to take some work, hard work, the kind of hard work I am loathe to do.  The kind that starts with an “S”.

Selling. Ugh. Do I really, really have to?

In a word, YES.

I had lunch last week with my MR ED, who is really excited about my book. No, really, almost as excited as I am, if that’s even possible. I wimped and whined about selling… There’s such a used car salesman stigma to selling your work. After all, in their heart of hearts, any artist believes that the work is so uniquely special it should sell itself.


There is also the “pushy” factor. No one wants to be known as that person. It appears gauche to pepper the Twittersphere with “Buy My Book” pleas, or to toot your horn (too loudly) on Facebook. If the recipients are anything like me, with too many blasts, they’ll drop you like a red hot tater and buy something else.

This is not to say I have never purchased a book from a friend or writing ally. The difference in the pitch is the delivery.

But let’s face it, now that you’re releasing your book to the masses (hopefully more than those dozen people who are related to you), you are now departing the world of the arts for the world of commercial enterprise. There is a fine line between tacky and thorough.

As for TIME (which is all important), Mr. ED came up with a boffo solution: The 20% solution. It’s a fabulous plan.

The best part is that it’s painfully easy. Take 80% of your time and work on the creative. Write to your heart’s content, or discontent. I would consider such items as classes or workshops in this category. Stretch your brain when you hit a writer’s block.

The remaining 20% is for the those tasks no writer wants to think about. The first thing that comes to mind is the technical aspects, like maintaining a blog, trying to convert your novel, or the dreaded selling your book.

It’s actually a pretty good solution for a common problem. Compartmentalizing your tasks might also help you stay on task, which is my biggest issue. I don’t need huge, nebulous deadlines, I need small, easy-to-reach deadlines.

I’ll give it a go and let you know.


One Response

  1. Couldn’t agree more!


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