A while back, a young martial artist approached me on a quest. The honored Quintessential Editor mentioned me in his tale of learning and invited me to share my own.
Where he found wise mentors and kindly sages, I trained more like a 1970s martial arts movie. Here is my tale:
The Cruel Fate of the Self Taught Literary Martial Artist
*Strikes gong, then turns on 70’s Stock Music*
In the land of the ever setting sun, there was a young man who believed he was ready to earn a name for himself as a literary martial artist. He had trained for two long decades, and honed his tools with the utmost care. His weapons skills were formidable. His traveling pouch was full of both sustenance and funds for inns and competitions.
His Journals style felt like a form that could not be beat. Yeah, his Journeyman Jab and Blacksoul Blast seemed unbeatable. It was then he entered his first competition, the Tournament of Agent City.
This was not an elimination tournament. In fact, so long as Weech Fu had a student in the competition, they could continue to earn a dojo sign. But the Agency Clan was simply too unified in purpose. The Crushing Criticism Crescent Kick and the Knife Chop of Great Denial sent the young martial artist reeling. Bloody and bruised, he stood and fought again. He took a Unintriguing Uppercut, which knocked him to his back with a thud.
No amount of resilience could defeat the Agency Clan’s most devastating technique – the Disinterested Delayed Denial Death Dealing Strike. Indeed, even as Weech waited for the blow to come, it never seemed to. Only when he thought no attack was coming, did they strike with their seemingly lackadaisical attack, almost nonchalantly destroying Weech with what seemed to be no more effort than would be required to shoo away an annoying insect.
Weech battled anyone who would take him on. “Who are you” a member of the Agency Clan would ask.
“Master Weech of Weech Fu!” he replied. “Surely you’ve heard of me.”
His opponent’s baffled face was nearly as devastating as his foe’s No Thank You Thrust.
Every member of the Agency Clan he battled defeated Weech without even realizing he’d been in a fight.
Weech trained harder…
After climbing No Hope Mountain and training in the bitter heat prevalent in the Land Of Rejection, Weech rededicated himself to a new path. Instead of challenging one of the Great Clans of Publishing Kung Fu, he’d simply form his own Dojo and expand it. This technique, known as the Self Publication Perfection Practice Style, was dangerous, but he felt ready.
He was not…
While other martial artists were working on their Advertisement Assassination Strikes and Social Media Melee Attacks, Weech simply mastered his Journals Jutsu. Indeed, any foe who dared take on this terrifying technique was likely found laid out on his straw mattress reading of the great Journeyman Jab and Black Soul Blast. Yes, he even found a student or two.
But the Publishing Clans saw an opportunity to manipulate Weech. To feed off of his ambition. Where most were well versed in the Self Publishing Black Market, Weech was a novice, only mastering the crafts of Grammar Grappling and Worldbuilding Whirlwind Attacks. He had no counters for the Overpriced Publishing Push or the Cover Cost Press. He saw no way to counter the Marketing Misdirection Sweep or the Promise of a Better Tomorrow Throw. Weech soon found himself penniless and bloody.
He again set out on a training journey to learn how to pass through the Falling Failure Desert beyond the Valley of Plummeting Sales. It was there he crossed paths with the Pirate Beauty Schneider, famous throughout the lands for her Ian Insanity Addiction Attack. She offered him training in return for service to her Captain Chrysler, a swashbuckling master of the Social Media Melee and the Drui Death Drop.
“Travel with us, Master Weech, and we will ensure you’re never beaten senseless by the Great Clans of Publishing Kung Fu Houses again.”
He accepted passage and earned a spot on the crew aboard the H.M.S. Slush Brain. Life on the ship was hard, but he trained. Still determined to win his first fight, he asked to be taken to the Land of Caught Terrors, where he was last seen practicing the Blog Bullet Strike under the tree of Website Marketing.
You can find him training still. Just look for the silhouette of a man when you gaze at the ever setting sun.
*Strikes gong, then turns off 70’s Stock Music*
So yeah, sometimes I get a little carried away with my metaphors. So in case that was entertaining but uninformative, let me summarize.
I focused on writing great books, which is still universally regarded as step one to getting published. But I didn’t get an agent, and no companies called clamoring for the rights to my book. How are my Agent Queries? How are my slush pile entries? I don’t really know. I know I solicited agents and publishing companies until I got tired of waiting and being told no.
So I published my book. I had no advertising plan. I had no marketing strategy. I thought, “I wrote a book, and it’s great! Surely everyone who reads it will demand their friends read it.”
Honestly, most people who’ve read it do recommend it. But what I have in skill (which is still developing if I’m being honest) I lack in marketing or networking. I’m better now thanks to the Slush Brain and her wonderful crew. But I’m still lost. I need to do more research and drive harder in that area.
What I hope you all take away from this is:
Step One: Write (revise, edit again and again) a DAMN good book. I think I did that.
But Step Two isn’t publish. It’s develop a marketing plan. Get your book out there. Get your name out there. While you’re revising and editing and proofreading your copy, get people clamoring for your work.
If you wrote a great book, that’s awesome, but no one will buy if no one knows it exists. That hints toward another blog I’ll work on soon regarding why people go to book stores. But that’s for another time.
Thank you for reading (and never stop training)
4 thoughts on “The Cruel Fate of the Self Taught Literary Martial Artist”
Wow…your journey has been a long and brutal one. I was highly entertained while reading it, and I think you are right. Many people forget social media and great marketing/networking is also integral to the writing craft.
More so nowadays than ever! Whether you just love writing in your blog or are looking to get published, it is important you have marketing abilities. It can be tricky.
Great post, wonderful advice, and thank you for sharing your journey!
You’re welcome. I try to make sure I have a good mix of advice, personal experience, and reviews. I think I’m more helpful if I’m not afraid to show my shortcomings. I’m still struggling to figure out social media. I honestly need to just buckle down and do some reading. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
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Master Weech of Weech Fu, I applaud you on a delightfully enjoyable read. I had a lot of fun reading this post, and also appreciate the underlying points you were making along the way.
Given how long we have known each other, your tale has always been an inspiring one. However it has always been a cautionary one as well. I’ve analyzed your Weech Fu and developed strategies, not to defeat it, but to find ways to mold it into my own style. Your clashes have served as valuable learning points in my development.
I know if you could jump into a TARDIS and do the thing over, you would have made some different decisions during the publishing process. What makes you a noble person is how charitable and open you are with information. That’s what makes Weech Fu truly formidable.
There are plenty of authors who cling to their mistakes and refuse to show off their scars to their readers. It’s an act of self-preservation, but a selfish one. In this collaborative world we live in, there is great potential for us to all hone our blades together. You are one of those people who I seek out for advice because you are open and honest about the nature of the beast.
Great post Matt, thanks for sharing it with us.
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I was lucky to be trained in the value of honest mentorship. None of my mentors or friends like you ever pretended to be perfect. If we’re open about our mistakes, we can not only learn from them, but teach others, even id it’s what not to do. Every day I root for Wastelander. I want it to sell a hundred times better than Bob, a million. I love seeing potential fulfilled. I believe helping others will inevitably help me improve my own skills. Plus, when you asked to share my story, the blog in which you did so was so fun, I had to try it.
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