Thursday, January 21, 2016

Trust In Me

by Giselle Renarde

The other night, I had dinner with my mom, my sister, and a family friend. They all live in the same neighbourhood and they all go to the same mechanic. Apparently, he's the best. Okay, so his prices are a little on the high side and his hours of operation are ridiculous, but they're all willing to shuffle things around in their schedules to get their cars in after he opens and pick their cars up before he closes. Because he's the best.

I'm thinking... if he charges more than other garages and his hours are truly craptacular, what makes him the best?

He doesn't recommend work your car doesn't need, and if he fixes something that only takes two seconds, chances are he won't charge you for it.  He's the best because they trust him.  Not an easy quality to find in a mechanic. Not just that, but they've trusted him for years. My mom and her friend have been raving about this guy for as long as I can remember.

I don't know how they found him, initially.  Proximity, I imagine.  They could drop their cars off at the garage and simply walk home.  But they wouldn't have stuck by him for thirty-plus years if not for consistently superior service.

This fortnight's theme is hustling. What that brings to mind, for me, as far as the business of writing is concerned, involves working your butt off:
  • telling everyone you know about your new release, 
  • giving your book to all your friends as birthday gifts, 
  • maintaining at least twelve active social media accounts, 
  • calling up every bookstore in the country to sell them on the idea of stocking your book so they'll have plenty of copies when you stop by for a signing event, 
  • flying to every conference on the planet to meet readers and network with other authors
...and that's just Monday.

I do none of those things.  I'm tired just thinking about a life like that.

The life I want is my mom's mechanic's.  Work when I want, close up shop if I'd rather be somewhere else, charge more than my competitors, and still hear my customers shouting, "Shut up and take my money!"

I am so not into the hustle. I'm just too lazy.  Or... is lazy the right word?  I'm always saying I'm lazy, but I spend pretty much every waking hour working.  I definitely work more hours now than I did doing the 9-5 thing.

Most writers want to write.  I want to write.  But all writers, whether we're traditionally published or self-published or anything in between, need to hustle our asses off.

What if we don't?  What if we just write and we don't hustle at all?

On the one hand, it's hard to answer that question because I've never done the hustle--not the big-time hustle, like attending conferences and buying expensive advertising and giving away Kindles. I know people who do these things and they seem successful to me, but I'm not them so I can't really say.

All I know is that in the 10 years I've been selling my work, some books have sold well and some books have sold 3 copies and I've never felt like I had the slightest bit of control over any of that.  If a book taps into the zeitgeist of a reader group, it takes off.  If it doesn't, no amount of hustle's going to make that baby a bestseller.

I didn't enter this business to get rich quick, or even get rich slowly.  I'm here to do the best work I can for as long as I'm able. 

Maybe in another 25 years I'll have readers beating down my door for the next new book. And it won't matter how long they have to wait. And it won't matter what I charge. If that's how my career plays out, they'll want it because they trust me.   


  1. Well, *I* trust that whenever I pick up one of your books, it will be well-written and sexy. And very often, spectacular.

    1. Yessssss! Mission accomplished. I can retire now.

  2. I'll be brief (for once), because I think everyone here has a pretty good idea by now of how I feel about this stuff. (:v>

    In brief, I suspect, as you seem to, that a lot of the promotional activities mentioned above are likely to be a complete waste of time. And they can be expensive, too—especially if you consider not just money but "opportunity costs" (and friendships damaged by overpromoting, ha). Good grief, conferences! If any fiction author is spending that kind of money and time, I sure hope he or she just loves the conference experience for its own sake, or finds it artistically inspiring and enriching, regardless of any career advancement it may or may not bring.

    1. Oops... so I guess my "brief" comments are about as lengthy as other people's "long" comments.

  3. I think a lot of this creative art thing is about luck. Having the right person find your stuff and so on. Best you can do is persist.

  4. One disadvantage of working with a publisher is that you need to at least appear that you're hustling. Their ideas of the sure-fire flavor du jour of hustling are fleeting, but there's always something.

  5. Re the writers' con experience, some of us have access to (limited) funding for this. (Universities will reimburse their faculty who attend cons.) So for some of us, it is an interesting experience in itself, but yes, it wouldn't seem worth the time & expense just to wave one's own books in the faces of other writers who are waving theirs back.