Wicked Wednesday-Surprising Skills

Hip, hip, hooray! The winner of yesterday’s contest is Jody Schwoerer. Jody, please email Jessie at jessiecrockett.com to make arrangements to collect your prize!

Jessie: In New Hampshire, plugging away on another novel

We all know writing is a job as well as a passion. There are a lot of skills that go into the crafting of a novel or a short story. But there are a lot of skills that go into the business side of the job as well. Wickeds, which new skills have challenged you? Delighted you? Still leave you stumped?

Liz: I don’t know if it’s a skill, but reading royalty statements makes my eyes bleed a little. I keep telling myself I’ll make an effort to really dig in and understand it better. If I have a burning question, I call my agent, but otherwise I try to muddle through it.

Edith: Oh, shoot. I thought this topic was going to be about balancing spoons on our Shoesnoses or being able to pronounce Xhosa clicks. I’m delighted that I’m not nervous about speaking in public, and I wasn’t even when I started this gig. I’m not much of a clothes horse, though, so owning several sets of professional outfits that fit well and comfortably, travel without wrinkling, and work for all seasons continues to be a challenge. And let’s not even talk shoes (short, wide, nice-looking, comfortable shoes)…

Sherry: Whew, I like Edith, thought we were talking about party tricks — I don’t have any. Interesting topic, Jessie! I love interacting with people whether it’s face to face or through social media. However, public speaking makes me nervous. The two minute pitch, the one minute new author breakfast pitch (and really couldn’t we change this to the new author cocktail party pitch?), speaking to groups, it all terrifies me. However, I found a way to deal with the group situations. Taking someone along to interview me, relaxes me. Honestly, after the first couple of questions, I’m off and running and don’t really need them anymore. That person by my side is like my security blanket. I got the idea from Ray Daniel’s first launch party when Hank Phillippi Ryan interviewed him.

Barb: I’ve learned countless new skills from being an author, and from being a former editor at Level Best Books. I’ve created websites, e-mail newsletters, ads and so on. Actually, that’s one thing I love about being an author. You’re always learning, both on the writing and promotion sides. The Wickeds know I love tracking down numbers and data, and speculating about what it means. I have a strong business background in technology, where I even partnered with textbook publishers, but with my bits and bites of information, trying to understand the book publishing business is like the blind man trying to describe the elephant. I’ll never completely get it, but keeps me endlessly entertained.

Jessie: I agree with Barb that the range of skills is really interesting. But the one thing I’ve learned which I believe for me has made the biggest difference is better time management and organization. I am still tweaking and improving my process but I am much more adept at keeping all the balls in the air than I was before I got published.

Julie: Writing deploys a lot of skills that I might have known I needed intellectually, but I’m not sure I understood how important they were to be proficient. I agree with what everyone says. I would also add self criticism. I write with my heart, but I edit with my head. If something needs to go, doesn’t work, or is unclear, I need to fix it. I have had to get rid of entire subplots. But it must be done. I need to weigh that with self confidence. The Wickeds have been helpful in developing both.


Readers, have you learned a new skill lately? By choice or by necessity?

16 Thoughts

  1. I’m about to be learning a new software at work – does that count? We’re getting a program to help with our monthly general ledger account reconciliations. Thrilling stuff.

    I’ll stop now before I put everyone to sleep.

  2. I’ve learned the website and technical stuff too, which i find difficult and not happy-making. But, I can do it. I’m okay with public speaking, but I find speaking on the radio terrifying. And I have to do one tomorrow. Help!
    What I’ve learned the most is diplomacy–how to be critical without being crushing, how to encourage without being unrealistic, how to cheer people on without hand-holding. Second to that is time management–there is never enough time, and you can only do what you can do. And, at some point, you really must sleep.

  3. Like Sherry, I’m terrified of public speaking. I’m getting better at it, though–especially like last night when I conned Annette Dashofy into doing a library talk with me. We asked each other questions, which was a huge help.

    I also agree that any new author pitch should be a cocktail party. Or maybe I should just bring along some breakfast stout…

  4. Now I’ve learned something new – Stout goes well with pancakes!!! 🙂 Made my day.

  5. I’ve found kind of the reverse: writing lets me use all the unrelated skills I’ve collected over five (really?) different careers, in business, fundraising, genealogical research and more. I never expected that to happen! I do agree with Liz, though–one publisher (who shall be nameless) sent out royalty statements that covered pages, with endless strings of numbers, when all we really want to know is how many books we sold. They’ve improved lately (maybe).

    1. Yes, I always find reading my royalty reports to be a challenge, and I worked in a business that both collected and paid royalties. I did find a mistake once, so scrutiny must be applied.

  6. Everyday at work there are changes and I just hope that the information sifts down to me but often they think because I’ve done the job for 30 years I must know it already. I’m also at the point of how many passwords can I remember.

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