Ed’s Casual Friday: August and Everything After…

Yes, I totally stole this post title from a Counting Crows album. I’m an old guy, so sue me. No wait, please don’t.

All last month, my Ed’s Casual Friday column here at IU consisted of a four-part look at one-star reviews on a hundred novels regarded as the “best” literature has to offer. The astute among you may have noticed that doing those four articles allowed me to write a full month of posts all at once, and then basically not show up for the rest of July. My lack of presence was not exclusive to IU, but to all the “social media outlets” around which us writerly types tend to congregate. Facebook pages, boards, groups, sites, lists, on and on, ad nauseum. I largely stayed off line for all of July, and I didn’t really do any writing, either. After finishing the fourth book in a series and releasing it at the end of June, before launching into book five I took a couple Mental Health days that turned into a week, and then the full month.

Two things I learned. First, I really did miss the writing, and even while I was about-and-about in the world some days, I was still writing, though nothing happened to get down on paper. I’ve thought my way through a good portion of what is (perforce) going to be a rather intricate novel, and I am anxious to get going now on chapter one. That’s what August is for, and I’m good to go.

Second, being absent from all writerly outlets made, for me, absolutely no difference sales-wise. Sales, such as they are, continued at what is their typical rate for a month in which I don’t run a free giveaway or pay a reputable site like E-reader News Today or Pixel of Ink to run an ad. So far, doing either of those things for the first book in a series has been good for a big sales boost on the sequels. Hanging around writers’ groups is, near as I can tell, of doubtful utility.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun to hang out in such groups. My tribe is the tribe of the finger-callused typers and the self-distracted introverts. Those who are always up to something in the back of their minds, lost in their own worlds even while they are pretending to be interested in the world around them. We can be a fun bunch, as at least half of us are half as funny as we think we are about half the time. But we are also a huge, gaping time-suck for each other.

Mind you, writers’ groups can also be total life-savers, particularly when you are just starting out. I have been at this “Indie” thing now for about a year and a half, and for the first several months being in lots of groups on fb and elsewhere was critical. It allowed me to get a sense of the rapidly evolving lay-of-the-land in Indie World, meet a lot of great people, find out what sort of stuff works, and what kinds of things don’t. Though the main thing I learned was that everything works differently for everybody. No two authors have the same experience with any aspect of “promotion,” and you sort of need to try everything until something seems to work for you.

At some point however, being in so many various groups, and spending so much time talking to fellow writers as opposed to, you know, readers, can be a crippling time drain. After a while, every conversation in every group of writers is going to seem like a conversation you’ve had twenty times before. Besides that, as is true of any group consisting of more than one person, eventually personality conflicts are going to arise, drama will unfold, feelings will get hurt and criminations and recriminations will fly. Even if you stay well out of it, just the fact that it is going on is a huge distraction, like slowing down to watch a car wreck. When they are functioning at their best, writers’ groups can be a source of warm support, excellent advice, and friendship. But even then, you will have to pick your way through “Buy My Book!” ads, “I got an awful review!” wails, and “Why am I not richer than JK Rowling?” scree fields to find it.

Thus and ergo: August and Everything After. While I am not withdrawing from all my friendly neighborhood writers groups, I am going to continue to scale my activities within them way, way back. I’m doing this not because I don’t enjoy them, but more because I enjoy them too much, and only too well. Instead, I will be concentrating more on the one activity that I know can sell more books, and that is of course having more books out there to sell. Write more, everything else less.

Which brings me to my weekly column here at Indies Unlimited, Ed’s Casual Friday, which I have been writing now every week since the sixth day of 2012. To tell you the truth, I have been vacillating wildly whether or not to keep at it, even as I am writing this post. It is still fun, and I like to think that people find it enjoyable, and maybe even helpful on occasion. But man, does it take time. Having those four July columns ready to post was like having an extra day in each week to do something else. And honestly, after writing 30+ of these, I’m pretty much out of stuff to say that hasn’t been said multiple times by either me, or another of what I think is now a full battalion of contributors to this site. 😉

Yet, I do like having this space here for those times when I feel like I have something to offer, or even just feel like saying something. So what I think I am going to do is this: I’ll keep posting Ed’s Casual Friday columns each week when I think I might have something useful (or at least amusing) to offer, but each week if it feels like I am just forcing it, I’m not going to inflict a post on anybody just for the sake of filling space. I just don’t have the time, and as we are pretty much all writers here, I daresay you guys probably don’t have it, either. Not when we all have so many other words we should be writing.

Thanks as always for reading. Now go get back to work. 😉


Author: M. Edward McNally

Epic fantasy author M. Edward McNally is a North Carolinian of Irish/Mexican extraction. He has a Masters in English Lit from ISU and Russian/East European History from ASU. He grew up mostly in the Midwest along I-35 northbound (KS, IA, MN), and now resides in the scrub brush surrounding Phoenix AZ, where the scorpions and javelinas play. Learn more about Ed at his blog, and his Amazon author page.

13 thoughts on “Ed’s Casual Friday: August and Everything After…”

  1. While I feel the same about some of the networking sites I have participated in, Indies Unlimited is not one of them. This has become my writing family. Every time I see someone leave I feel sad – literally. The reasons are always good ones, ones I understand, but the withdrawals still leave a void.

    I joined IU because of its mission – to promote Indie writers and Indie writing. While I know the group will evolve and change I still think that, to be successful, we also need to stick together and keep participating.

    On the other hand, it must not become a burden that prevents our other important work, which is writing. That balance can be hard to achieve. I struggle with it as well.

    So, Ed, I get it – but I still hope we see you here frequently, if not with weekly articles, then with your insightful comments and your humour.

  2. The first article I ever read here on IU was one of yours Ed. I can’t remember what it was about but I do remember it was witty and funny. So I came back. I hope you do the same. 🙂

    As I’m also a reader I’ll add that you’re allowed to stay away if you’re WRITING because I’ve finished book 4 and the story is a long way from done. But no lying on a beach sipping whatever guys sip on beaches! Unless of course you write a post on how to mix a kick-ass cocktail. 😀


  3. Ed, this is only okay if you’re writing book 5, to be published, like, immediately. 😉

    I get what you’re saying, and I agree with you. Social media can certainly be a giant time-suck and a way to avoid writing. But I also agree with Yvonne, Laurie and Chris. Part of what makes being an indie so cool is the community support from other indies. As corny as it might sound, I feel like I ought to “pay forward” the kind of support I got when I was starting out — *but* keeping in mind that I’m not going to continue to be a writer if I’m not also *writing*.

    Finding balance is pretty much the trick to life, isn’t it? 🙂

  4. Ah, good on you, Ed, for following your heart on this. It sounds like that month away has cleared the cobwebs and given you strength. Really a balanced decision and one that has not been made lightly.

    I too agree that Indies Unlimited, for me, is a wonderful place to connect/listen/support/learn with independent writers/authors. Luckily, through it, I’ve been introduced to the wonderful writing of an honest, interesting, humourous and casual, epic fantasy author, who I will continue to follow and read. 😉

    Onwards, Ed! And, yes, I shall go write now too!

    P.S. Counting Crows album? Excellent!!!!!

  5. Hate to see your excellent posts come to an end, but I can’t say that I don’t understand. Thanks for all you have contributed!

  6. You have written one of my favorite fantasy series, ever. Thanks to Indies Unlimited for giving you a platform to introduce your writing. I’ll miss the regular weekly posts, but I’m looking forward to having a new book to read.

    Thanks Ed.

  7. Excellent and thought provoking post. The other day I just couldn’t write. The short story I was laboring over (and still am) just wasn’t working. So I decided to spend the day goofing off on FB. What did it accomplish? Actually something- I made friends with a prominent book blogger AND an independent film producer. So it wasn’t a completely wasted day.

    There are times I know I need to get stuff done, and I have to make myself get off the internet. It does suck time, but I’ve made wonderful friends.

    Post when the muse lets you- enjoy life and your writing.

  8. Ed, I totally agree with you and have been vacillating as to whether or not I should get off some great groups on FB because I have not come out with another book (no. 2) let alone the 4 you have done since you and I started this publishing journey around the same time. Though I am not into fantasy novels, I did love reading your short stories and reading your articles on here because they are full of wit and wisdom, lol. I will also miss seeing you on FB, but I will miss everyone on there if I decide I need to get off there and get busy with my dream — of not having to work at a day job and just write — which has sort of fallen into my lap, so I am an idiot not to take advantage of it.

    So here’s to you Ed in what ever you decide. I like the Indies Unlimited and am a subscriber so if you post on Fridays, I will be sure to check them out.

  9. Thanks all, and the present plan is to continue to post these Friday columns, though I’m taking something of a step back from a lot of promotion for the group, which I feel kind of bad about, but something has to give somewhere. I love IU, and I’ve found far more useful info and opinion here than I could ever hope to offer. But it is getting harder and harder to keep up with everything on a daily basis, and spread the word.

    1. That’s okay, McNally. I’ve been picking up the slack, posting as you in a lot of new… I guess you could call them forums. Anyway, Someone named “Bubba” is very keen on meeting you in person when he gets out of prison next month. Good luck with that.

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