the quantity-over-quality controversy

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Last week’s essay stoked a bit of an uproar. This reaction surprised me. For once, I didn’t intend to piss anyone off.

The gist, if you’re new: quantity is the key contributing factor in commercial success for writers. Not quality, i.e. “talent,” whatever that is.

People took offense, in a social media kind of way.


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the trick is to write more—much, much, much more

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I’ve come to terms with it: commercial success for authors boils down to quantity. That’s it. I wish I could say that talent plays a part, but it doesn’t, guys. It just doesn’t. The writer who wins is the writer who just kept writing.

Here’s the truth: if you figure out how to establish and maintain a heavy, relentless routine for writing, you will find an audience. Maybe not right away, but eventually. (You have to share what you write, of course.)

As you increase your productivity, you will increase your audience. Again, eventually.

Explosive growth comes down to luck, but when you write and share regularly, you make your own luck.

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in 2017 quit everything that annoys you—except this

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(A quick note: The inimitable C.C. Chapman interviewed me about writing and editing for his new podcast, Why I Write—check it out.)

I’m bummed, guys. Bummed about blogs. Blogs are dead. “RIP blogging,” for the umpteen millionth time.

To be clear, I don’t mean company blogs or magazine blogs. I mean real blogs by real people where they write about what they’re really interested in. Like Boing Boing and (Both are still around, but they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.)

We all know it and we’ve known it for years: Twitter and Facebook killed blogs. Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook suck.

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PR will not save you

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If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is—that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is—that’s PR.

—Sylvia H. Simmons

Last week, I promised to address publicity and PR. First, definitions.

Public Relations (PR): What the public sees, hears, and reads about you.

Publicity: Getting placement: TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts. (This is changing rapidly. In 5 years, author interviews will be conducted in VR by intelligent self-driving cars.)

So publicity is a tool you use in your public relations campaign. PR is the umbrella term for getting people to care who you are and then getting them to like you once they do.


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I can’t help you—writing is hard

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Janine: I bet you like to read a lot, too.

Egon: Print is dead.

Janine: That’s very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I’m too intellectual.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Learn how to learn

A quick recommendation: Learning How to Learn is a popular Coursera course co-taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, professor of engineering at Oakland University. I liked it so much I got Dr. Oakley’s book, A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra).

Remember when I wrote about packaging your book? This is a book about learning deep, difficult concepts—period. Unfortunately, the title sends the wrong impression. Sure, Oakley draws stories and examples from the sciences, but the advice applies equally to the task of absorbing any demanding subject.

The book itself is anything but demanding, a light and compelling read I’d comfortably recommend to a middle school student. Let alone a brilliant and accomplished professional like yourself.

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