Something of Value
It starts with passion. I would venture that we all write because we love it! I was drawn to reading and writing as a young boy, probably because I was fortunate enough to have a mother who was, and still is, a librarian. I knew very early on that one day I would write the types of novels I was enjoying so much. David Morrell, Nelson DeMille, Tom Clancy, A.J. Quinnell, J.C. Pollock, Marc Olden, Louis L’Amour, Eric Van Lustbader, and Stephen Hunter were my early professors in the art of storytelling. I was drawn to them for their stories, but they were offering me much more than that. Though I didn’t realize it then, I was soaking up lessons from masters of the craft. Eventually, it has to be about more than passion, more than our love of writing. We have to offer readers something of value.
When I left my military life behind, my vision of being an author was of someone who wrote from a remote cabin in the wilderness, perhaps going back and forth with an editor in New York a couple times and then starting on the next novel. I had no idea that writing was also a business and included marketing, branding, co-branding, advertising, public speaking, budgeting, tax planning, social media postings, website updates, blogs, and interviews. It seems naïve in retrospect, but even after I had signed a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster, I didn’t comprehend how much of writing and being an author involves all the things one would have to do in any business. Someday I hope to have someone who can take most all of that off my plate, but for now it’s all me, which means I had to adapt.
We have to offer readers something of value.
A positive about realizing what life as an author encompasses is that we can use the same optic for the business side of things as we do for writing. What are we offering to our readers and potential readers? If there was nothing of value in our pages, no one would buy our books. The same applies to every other facet of the business. In 2020, our social media presence, websites, blogs, interviews, and even relationships with our publishers can’t be all about selling our books. We have to offer something of value in addition to the product. What do we offer on our websites? Why do people follow us on social media? Why should they tune in to hear us on the radio, television or a podcast? Those touch points are all opportunities to offer something to our readers that is about more than serving up an advertisement to purchase our latest novel.
It is always about doing the work, telling a story, and living in a way that makes us as authors, and therefore our readers, to paraphrase the words of the great David Morrell, “richer, fuller people.” Applying the question of value to both our writing and the business side of publishing benefits authors and readers alike.
Now, get back to writing!
Jack Carr is an author and former Navy SEAL sniper. His works include The Terminal List, True Believer, and his newest thriller Savage Son. Visit him at OfficialJackCarr.com and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @JackCarrUSA.