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  • Marion Raby

Writing, Publishing, and Marketing

When I published Life is Fair in 2016, I knew nothing about the book world. I could barely write a decent story, but I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my days. Write.

I wasn't even a teenager when I first dreamed of being a writer, and since the day I sat down to plot my first book, I knew nothing would ever fill me with a sense of purpose as writing has.

In the past fifteen years, I have written many stories. Seven of them are finished novels. Some are ready to publish, some need just one final edit, and others are nothing more than the first or perhaps the second draft.

After years of writing without clear goals, I decided to stop accumulating stories in a drawer, and 2022 would be the year I publish the first four books and two more next year so that my six-part Life series would be available to buy by the end of 2023.

But that's the easy part. Writing a story, even a good one that is 150,000 words long or a series that's 700,000 words, editing and formatting the books for publishing, and coming up with an idea for the cover, those things, my dears, are the easy bits.

Selling books, now that's a whole other animal—one that is not my friend. Because selling books isn't the same as writing books, and as I've stated above, that is all I want to do. Alone in my office. With nobody there but the cat sleeping on a chair.

In the last couple of years, I've read a lot of expert advice from people who have managed to self-publish and make a decent living writing books.

Some of their advice seems easy. I can do ads. I can learn to build a good ad campaign so my books will be seen by the right person who will buy my stories.

Other things are daunting. Newsletters, TikTok posts, building community, and reaching out to people, giving them bits of me so they will want to read my books. I've tried TikTok. I have. I spent hours there, liking posts, commenting, and researching how to make viral posts.

I'm an introvert. I don't want to socialize, I don't want to connect, and I don't wish to share private bits of me with the public. So, no Tik Tok. NO! I just won't.

But that is not the worst of it. Experts say, "write to market." I wouldn't mind writing to market if the market liked weird stories about black sheep, misfits, and outcasts who just don't fit in. If it meant writing about vegans who give a damn, about the tough choices people make because of the climate crisis, and being messed up by your childhood, then, yeah, I'd write to market.

But I refuse to write YA, fantasy, sci-fi, or romance without heart or plot, and although I have some spicy—Gawd, I hate that word—scenes in my books, I won't write soulless smut just to make a buck.

So, I've decided not to follow expert advice.

I will continue to write stories that aren't mainstream with characters that aren't interior designers or millionaires. I want to write books that are character studies, examine the human condition, and about people who go against the grain to find bliss not in mainstream society but by doing what they believe in. I want to write eco-fiction, vegan fiction. My heroines won't wear perfect make-up and designer clothes because they don't care about that—because I don't care about that.

None of the things I've done in my life have made a lot of money, but I didn't do them for the money. In that sense, the adage is correct—Money can't buy you happiness. I have a day job for that.

I write books because I am passionate about the stories that rumble around my brain, the characters who live up there who want me to tell you their story as it is, without changing who they are. I write to have a purpose on this big blue ball circling the sun.

I want to entertain the reader, but I also wish to make them think a bit about the world we live in, how we treat our fellow man and woman, and the future of our species.

So, no. I won't be writing to market, and I won't be leaving my comfort zone to share things I don't feel comfortable sharing.

All I want to share are the words in my stories; those will have to speak for themselves.

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