Workshop 28: Career Tracking
After opening with her edited version of the song Beautiful Dreamer, agent and editor Karen Ball (right) started answering questions participants—writers who have published at least two books—sent in advance.
Be clear on your purpose
Due to the digital age, Ball said, publishing and author contracts are changing quickly: what used to be a revolving door is now a Star Trek transporter! But that doesn’t mean writers should start asking editors what they want to see.
“Write your passion,” she said. “If God is breathing a story into you, do it. Don’t shortchange what God is calling you to do.” She also reminded writers that God calls us to write, not to get published.
“Deadlines are writers’ responsibilities,” Ball said. Writers must alert their editors as soon as they know they may not meet the deadline. With sufficient notice, most editors can make adjustments. In addition, she suggested not signing contracts too close to each other.
Marketing, another complaint of many writers, is an unavoidable and crucial aspect of a writer’s job, even though measuring ROI (return on investment) when it comes to marketing is difficult. “No one will know how to reach your readers better than you,” Ball said. Writers need to be the bridge between marketing and their publishing houses. “Spend your time strategically. Marketing is about relationships. So go where the people are.”
She shared an example of a writer contracted to write a book about cats who, before his book released, started a blog about his readers’ cats. Along the way, he dropped in hints about his book, but it wasn’t the focus of his blog. The moral of the story? “If you want something to go viral, create consumer evangelists.”
“What writers do is beyond publishing books,” Ball said. Writers communicate truths. Sales aren’t a writer’s measure of success. Ultimately, God measures success by obedience, she said.