sly : marketing

Should writers behave like musicians or singers?

** Note from Jens. I am taking a few days off. It’s finally sunny in Norway. I was lucky to get an interesting guest post from Shrini. It was appropriate since I’ve just finished writing my first novel. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Here’s Shrini for you. Enjoy.

Should writers behave like musicians or singers?

I don’t mean picking up a guitar and start howling like a wannabe singer. Writers write. Singers sing. But there is a vast difference between them when it comes to marketing their stuff. And there lies the rub. Let me explain.

Need For Agents

Every aspiring writer, with a manuscript worth its salt (even worth without its salt), is looking for an agent to represent him or her. This is normal. There are some who go raving mad and write to a hundred agents begging for representation. All this while, the big fat fella, I mean the agent, is sitting in his big fat arm chair contemplating the menu for the evening, when he will meet some big fat editor and quaff some champagne, while discussing their health woes or maybe discuss coupon code and coupon discounts for their common gym. You, the aspiring writer is thinking, all this while, that the agents are working their a** off. In the end, it is the girlfriend of the editor who gets published – obviously. Hmmm….nice twist to the story? Anyway, the publishing community is known for their great camaraderie.

Flash forward to the music industry. Every aspiring singer is looking for an agent. When they don’t find one, they don’t whine – they sing their way into the charts. If you look around you, most of the popular singers started off on their own. Singers spend from their pocket for their music albums. It is normal and done thing. They beg and borrow (and sometimes steal) to get there. I admit that a writer cannot go to a pub and start reading his stuff. But he can surely publish his own stuff if he is sure that it’s a blockbuster or chartbuster.

So why don’t writers self-publish?

Writers club is elitist. Not like singers who can wear their torn jeans and sing their heart out. In the publishing world you have to wear a tie (and shoes, of course). The marketing and distribution channel is tightly controlled. No one gets to say his thing. The small fellows have all been eaten by the big sharks of publishing. Even if they say that they are egalitarian, they are not. It is coterie of sorts. They suffer from a deep Oedipus complex. I may even go to the extent to say that the publishing world is highly incestuous. They offer deep coupon discounts to their own kin.

Where does this leave a writer? As an outsider you have no chance to survive. Self-publishing is as good as suicide. For all the dust raised by the self-publishing world, the maximum number of books sold through this route does not exceed a handful. This is because the distribution channel used to be managed by the established mafia.

Things have changed with the internet

I have always liked novels which end on a happy note. Writers can now, finally, start behaving like singers. The digital world has created cracks in the publishing cartel, big enough cracks to slide into. Amazon has inadvertently become a champion of writers. You can now publish your work in ebook format or Kindle, at nil cost and sell them through Amazon and hundreds of similar digital shop fronts. Writers have a viable alternate distribution channel rivaling established ones. This is a game changer, in the sense that the monopoly of the big guys has been broken. It is time we writers started behaving like singers – I would love to go out in torn jeans, except that the big editor at home, would strike the desire down with an iron hand. That’s the life of a writer and I can’t whine nor sing.

S. Srinivasan is a writer anxious to break into big time. Meanwhile, he ekes out a living writing about weight loss programs for diet blogs that share Medifast diet coupons and Nutrisystem discounts. He currently writes for a diet blog that offers a Medifast savings promo for May and Nutrisystem coupons codes and discounts, two meal replacement plans.

23 responses to “Should writers behave like musicians or singers?”

  1. jens says:


    Thanks a lot for your post.

    I have given this some thought, especially since I’ve finished writing my first novel, and my cousin is a musician . He is wearing the clothes you describe, and he has used a lot of money in order to get his CD released. He doesn’t have an agent, and he doesn’t have a record deal. He is spending a lot of time and money to “self-publish”.

    I might end up like him, but I’m starting out contacting the major players in the publishin industry. I won’t give up or whine if I will have to self-publish. I will adjust, and do whatever is necessary.

    And I already dress as a musician 🙂

  2. Christian Hollingsworth says:

    My clothing attire certainly changes throughout the week. Sometimes hipster, sometimes suit and tie for business/singing engagements/church/fun.

    I guess that goes to show the differences we come across in our lives, and the development we see in forms of business.

    The writing world develops much like other industries. Quicker technology, better market, the need for an online presence – and I think, they should be a mixture of singer/musician. 😉

    • jens says:

      Hey Christian,

      That’s interesting. I almost never change my style when it comes to the clothes I wear. I always dress as a rock star (t-shirt and jeans) no matter what I’m doing. The only time I wear a suit is at a wedding or furneral 🙂

      I probably should change though, but I don’t feel comfortable in other types of clothes. So, that’s what I’m wearing.

      I have just finished writing my first novel, so I’m thinking a lot about the marketing aspect. And so for, I haven’t done a thing. I’m just waiting for feedback from the publisher.

      • paul wolfe says:


        Irrespective of whether you get taken up by a publisher or not you should start creating a ‘tribe’ of people who are fans of your fiction.

        Even if you get taken on by a top publisher, there’s only a slim chance that they’ll actually do any promoting of your book as well.

        If you don’t know Holly Lisle’s website I’d suggest you google her and go read some of her info. She’s someone who’s walked the walk and talked the talk – she’s published around 30 books. There’s a lot of great info there – but you need to start creating that tribe of ‘Bergaholics.’

        Good luck.


        • jens says:

          Hey Paul,

          I have been thinking about your comment, and definitively agree. But the problem is that I am writing my novel in Norwegian, and close to everything I do online is in English. Do you suggest that I start building a community (via a blog) with Norwegian people?

          I’ll take a closer look at Holly Lisle’s website. Never heard of the woman, but she must be good if she has published 30 books.

          Thanks a lot for your brilliant comment Paul.


          • paul wolfe says:


            It truly depends on your goals and what you’re trying to achieve with your novel.

            I’m assuming you want to get it read by as many people as possible?

            If that’s the case then I think you seriously need to think about writing in English. By doing so you increase your potential audience from a maximum of around 5 million to around 2 Billion or so (give or take a few million).

            But I realize that ‘writing a story’ in English is a different endeavour to writing a blog post in English.

            What’s interesting about Holly Lisle is that she’s waht used to be called a ‘midlist’ author’ – she’s never published a bestseller, and is a working writer. To make ends meet more efficiently she studied some Internet Marketing (Jimmy Brown predominantly) and created a course teaching people how to write and publish fiction (I think that course is called Thinking Sideways).

            There is some good free stuff on her site – do check it out. She’s pretty cool…

            Do some research into how authors build their own online communities too – I think you’ve done some IM research, it’s essentially the same deal but instead of selling affiliate products or infoproducts you are selling fiction.

            Hit me up with an email and we can talk further – this is a topic I want to pursue myself next year and I’ve got some ideas that might come in handy.



            • jens says:

              I have actually thought a lot about writing a novel in English. It’s a lot different than writing a blog post, and it will probably be a lot harder than writing a novel in Norwegian. But, on the other hand, I have a lot more followers and potential readers. And I bet I could get a lot more help.

              I’ll wait a little while before I decide what to do next. I have just been approached by one of the largest (and most famous) publishers in Norway.. and I am expecting the second call sometime next week. Hopefully I’ll know a lot more by then 🙂

  3. Nimita Rao says:

    great post.
    i think it is very important information for us.
    thanks to share it.

  4. farouk says:

    Hi Jens
    thanks for the informative post
    i believe each one of them has its own benefits. at certain point self publishing might be the right choice and at other times finding a publisher might be the right choice

    • jens says:

      Hi Farouk,

      I am going to try self-publishing if I can’t get a deal with one of the major publishing companies. It’s close to impossible to get a deal, but I’ll wait and see what happens first 🙂

      Thanks a lot for stopping by.


  5. Carolyn says:

    Hi Shrini and Jens, I hope you enjoy the beautiful sunshine in Norway, Jens and get to visit some beautiful waterfalls!

    Shrini, I’m thinking you’re not getting an agent soon with this post, lol! But I agree with you completely, Amazon is providing a forum for writers that has never existed in the modern world. Writers are on more of an equal footing now. I am buying Kindle books from independent writers and enjoying them tremendously.

    Jens, please let us know when you translate your novel into English. Jens, are you considering self-publishing on Amazon?

    • jens says:

      Hey Carolyn,

      I’m not sure what’s happening with my novel. But I have just been contacted by the publisher, and they’re interested 🙂 I have been considering self-publishing on Amazon, but only if I don’t get a deal with one of the major publishing companies. That’s because the novel is in Norwegian, at least for the moment.

    • jens says:

      By the way, I haven’t seen any beautiful waterfalls, but I’ve been to a live show with Jerry Seinfeld 🙂

  6. Daniel Black says:

    I might be wrong here, but I believe that it’s way easier for a singer to get in the spot light, I mean take the example of Justin Bieber, he was spotted on Youtube, or even One Republic which was found on MySpace. I think if something similar existed for writer, perhaps they wouldn’t have to struggle that much.

    • jens says:

      Hey Daniel,

      I’m not sure if you’re wrong at all, because I agree with you. It seems to me that it has become a lot easier for “regular” people to share their music and become famous via YouTube and MySpace. But what can authors do in order to get into the spot light? Should they turn to YouTube with their writing, and create videos of them reading from their books? It’s a lot harder, but it might work…

  7. Usman says:

    Hi. Shrini!

    Do you think that selling books on amazon will be such easy?

    I guess we need a lot of trust or some other matther to get people trust us , because trust is very important factor in this regard, isnt it?


    • Srini says:

      Hi Usman,

      Selling anything anywhere is not easy. Trust is important everywhere especially in the selling process,may it be a book or toothpaste. That’s why publishers have such a stranglehold on book sales. They have bought the trust of people over a period of time. Their name on the spline sells. Hope this clarifies your query.


  8. Adrienne says:

    Hi Shrini and Jens,

    So did you enjoy some of that awesome sunshine Jens? Sure hope so.

    Shrini, this was a very interesting post. A couple of years ago I was contacted by a guy who is self published and has had a lot of success. Of course his purpose is to share with others that you will definitely get recognized a lot quicker if you are a published author. So I even took a class to learn how to outline a book. If only I could get the mind to cranking out some great stories like Jens has done. Life would be even better than it already is. 🙂

    Congratulations Jens on being notified by a publisher. I’m praying for you my friend. Either way, I know your book will be a success. Maybe someday you’ll right for us?

    Enjoyed the post, thanks again.


    • jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I have enjoyed the sunshine (and the rain). The weather in Norway is interesting to say the least. One day it’s like being in Mexico, it’s hot and perfect, and the day after it’s like being in Alaska. We never know what type of weather the next day will bring 🙂

      I have been thinking a lot about self-publishing, and I have thought a lot about writing my next novel in English. My goal is not to make a living as an author or to become famous, but to get as many people as possible to enjoy my stories. So, self-publishing might be one of the best ways to accomplish this. On the other hand, I’m waiting to see what will happen with the publishing company 🙂


  9. Terje Sannarnes says:

    There is one thing that unites musicians, singers and writers in a single whole. All these people are creative. So, writers have to be creative people like singers and musicians.

  10. alexstrauss says:

    Hi Jen,
    Content writing and content reading has always been a source of benefit and information for the writer and the reader respectively. Organization of the article is very important and the organization includes the proper formatting and designing of writing the contents. Thanks to share this post.

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