I get requests every day from authors – usually via email, asking for advice. How do I market my book? What’s an ISBN number? Is it important to have an eBook as well as a print book? My eyes are starting to roll back into my head.
I don’t mind helping and advising and what have you – but people need to do their homework. I’m not going to handhold if someone isn’t willing to put a little effort into it. This world of instant communication on the internet has made it way too easy for people to rifle off an email and let someone else do the work for them.
Here’s a question back: in the time it took to email me, couldn’t the answer about ISBN numbers for ebooks been just as quickly looked up on the Kindle or Smashwords web site? And here’s the answer: Why, yes, yes it could have. How do I know? Because I just did it back in October.
The internet isn’t the only place I’ve seen this happen lately. It happens everywhere, even in professional hockey. Example: Washington Capital player Jay Beagle got into a fight with Pittsburgh Penguin player Arron Asham and got knocked out. People were appalled because Beagle is “a rookie.” I do feel badly for Beagle, he missed quite a few games because of the fight, however, that is the risk you run when you engage a seasoned fighter like Asham.
Way the hell back in like 500 BC, Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” Why is that suddenly no longer true?
Isn’t that why sports teams have analysts? To tell them who/what to look out for and when? Someone does the homework for the team so they can go out and take advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses. Generals do it during war. Advertising firms doing it when marketing their clients. It needs to be done to survive.
What does all this have to do with anything? Homework isn’t a bad thing to do. It makes you look smart, prepared and people will take you seriously.
For example, I was recently on a radio show. I listened to a couple of broadcasts in advance so I’d be familiar with the format and what the specific audience was used to. And thank goodness I did. I was completely prepared for the lackadaisical and self-centered attitude of the host. I didn’t get flustered, and I was able to roll with it. If I hadn’t have been prepared, I would have been blind-sided by the ridiculously unprofessional interview. (Despite the fact that my press kit had been forwarded to them – they couldn’t even remember my name – and showed no interest in doing so.) After the interview I received comments telling me how great I was, and how offensive the hosts were. Homework, my friends.
The other day, someone didn’t know what to do about being invited to guest post on someone’s blog. They didn’t know the rules or even really what a blog was. They were literally freaking out over the whole ordeal. There is only one correct resolution to that: HOMEWORK. If someone invites you to do a blog post or interview – go to their blog and check it out first. If it’s about sacrificing baby bunnies to Satan – and you’re a devout Catholic, then you SHOULD have your answer. KNOW your audience. KNOW your enemy. Blog is such a widely used term – the only thing that matters is what blog means to the person who invited you to post. I’ve been invited to participate in many blogs that have extreme adult content. (I don’t want to talk about that.) I write suspense novels AND children’s books. I can’t send my readers to something like that.
In school, if you didn’t do your homework, you didn’t get a good grade. Why is it any different in real life? I bet Jay Beagle is wishing he’d done his homework.
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This post originally appeared on K.S. Brooks’ Blog on November 10, 2011. [subscribe2]