Time was when you could write a book, and if it was effective enough, and you were lucky because of the timing of its publication, what your publisher did to promote it, the reviews it garnered, and the word of mouth it generated, it would become a bestseller. Those days are long gone. Now there are more good books and authors, more competing media,
and more ways to spend one’s free time and discretionary income than ever.
Writing starts with yin: the feminine, creative part of your personality. You’re in your cave writing your book or proposal. However, when you’re ready to share your work, you have to summon your yang: the masculine warrior that’s willing to take on the world to get published and succeed. This requires
- a different perspective: that of a merchant not an author–an author with something to
sell, not a writer with something to say
- a different set of skills. Writers have to be able to read, come up with ideas, research, write, and get feedback on their work. Authors have to
–build communities and communicate with them
–make themselves visible to book buyers by test-marketing their work
–nurture their babies through the birthing process of publication
–promote their books
- a different mindset from that of a creative person fearful of failure and craving acceptance to that of a contentpreneur who takes responsibility for and has confidence in the book and its success
Novelists tend to be more yin than yang, happier at their desks than out in the world. Nonfiction writers deal with information, so they’re more comfortable charging ahead and enlisting
the help they need.
You’ve seen the image of yin and yang; it’s on the South Korean flag. We are all inextricably composed of both elements, each of us a unique blend of masculine and feminine, light and darkness, active and passive. You need to draw on both parts of yourself to succeed. Balancing your inclinations with the necessities of your calling will be one of the keys to your success.
In his brilliant book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, Leonard Shlain envisioned the movement of culture from the word to the image, from print to screen, which is transforming culture from yang to yin, from patriarchal to matriarchal. Let’s hope that, with your help, it happens in time to save us from the follies of yang run amuck. Meanwhile, balancing your yin and yang will help ensure your personal and professional success.
I write the blog to help you and me understand what we need to know about writing, publishing, promotion, and agents. I hope you find it worth reading and sharing.
Rants, comments, questions, and corrections greatly appreciated.
The 9th San Francisco Writers Conference / A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community / February 16-20, 2012 / www.sfwriters.org / [email protected] / https://sfwriters.info/blog / @SFWC / www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference / 415-673-0939 / 1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 / San
Francisco Writers University / Where Writers Meet and You Learn / Laurie McLean, Dean / free classes / www.sfwritersu.com / [email protected] / @SFWritersU
[Formatting anomalies not in draft.]