Career Killers: Playing Around the Edges
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Books & Such Central Valley Office
Weather: Sunny and mid-nineties– again!
Here’s another comment I recently heard from a frustrated editor talking about a writer: “I just wish he would spend less time networking—Twittering and Facebooking— and more time writing a book that takes it to the next level.”
Eek! We are always telling our authors to build a significant presence on the social networks. We want you to Facebook, to Twitter, to blog and to keep up your website. It’s part of building community, right? And community is potential readership. I mean, we’ve all read Seth Godin’s Tribes and if we haven’t jumped into the blogosphere, we feel guilty about our electronic slothfulness.
What does one do with a comment like that?
Before we take a closer look at what this editor was really saying, take a look at this hilarious award winning book trailer. Dennis Cass could be the poster boy for online neglect, but the snarky line about his once thinking it was all about the book is a sad commentary on how imbalanced we can become.
But back to what this editor was really saying. There’s an unspoken story here. It has more to do with the quality of the book being turned in than the online marketing the author is doing. This particular author is very visible on every writing blog and every social network. There is nothing more upsetting to an editor than having an author beg for an extension of the deadline when that editor can see the author Tweeting about lunches with friends or a parasailing weekend.
This editor actually loves connected writers, but she was pointing out a dangerous imbalance. I call it playing around the edges. There are too many writers who love the cachet of being an author; they just don’t like the work of writing. They’d much rather talk with other writers, sip exotic coffees in literary coffee houses and just play around the edges of writing. It’s a dangerous business if you hope to build a career.
How can you tell if you are a diligent networker (which is important for a successful career) or just playing around the edges (which can be a career killer)?
You might be playing around the edges if:
- You like doing Facebook, Twitter and blogs far better than writing.
- You are spending more time online talking about writing to other writers than connecting with your readers.
- Your blog is all about writing instead of about topics of interest to your readers. (Your readers are more interested in the things you write about and in you than they are in how you write.)
- You can blow off an impending deadline to have lunch with a fellow writer or go to a conference.
See the pattern? If writing comes first, you have no worries. If you love the writing community or the online community far more than the solitary work of writing, you may have some soul searching to do. No matter how much we talk about connecting, it’s the writing that will ultimately insure success or be a career killer.
I’d love to hear you chime in. Tell us how you find balance.