Making Money Mondays – Saying Yes

My current working environment.

My current working environment.

As I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning, wiping sleep from my eyes and trying to get the cat situated on the desk in a way that interferes with neither my typing nor my Pop-Tart ingestion (a pretty critical part of my morning), I was wondering what to write today. I’m also sitting here for a few minutes writing while I let my back rest from lugging boxes of books down from the front room to my office so I can prep for a small appearance/signing I’m doing this afternoon with Gail Z. Martin, J. Matthew Saunders, and Stuart Jaffe at a library here in town.

So my aching back got me to thinking, as I often do, “What’s the point of all these appearances?” It’s not like I make a ton of money at them. Wouldn’t I be better off sitting at home writing more? After all, I have to get three novellas written and the first draft of one novel completed by the end of the year (really, two and a half novellas, but that’s neither here nor there). And that’s not even thinking about all the stuff I need to do for Falstaff Books releases that aren’t mine. So it’s not like I don’t need the time to write and do publisher-type stuff. Plus I have a podcast to do, bi-weekly blog posts here on MW, bi-weekly blog posts on my website, and bi-weekly writing craft advice blogs on my Patreon feed.

So with all that going on, why am I taking the vast majority of a day to go to a library and talk to maybe two dozen people if we’re really lucky?

Because I say yes.

I say yes to almost all invitations to conventions, signings, appearances, anthologies, guest blogs, podcasts, and pretty much whatever else I get asked to be a part of. I say yes to ebook box sets. I say yes to podcast appearances. I say yes to interviews for any website or magazine. I say yes to signings and readings. Almost always, unless I am already booked for the day and time that you are asking me to be somewhere, or I can’t afford the travel, if someone asks me to put on my writer hat and be somewhere – I say yes.


Because obscurity is the greatest enemy a writer can have. You can have the greatest book in the world, with the most beautiful cover, blurbs from Jesus Christ and Buddha themselves, but if nobody knows it exists, you won’t sell any books. I need to be out there putting my face in front of people. I need to be present, and I need to be memorable (for the right reasons), and I need to be on my game. But I need to be there.

That’s why I’m doing a panel and signing this afternoon with an unknown potential audience. That’s why I’m doing a mini-con at the Cabarrus County Library next weekend with AJ Hartley, Gail Martin (another one who is almost notorious for saying yes to any appearance request – Gail and I are very much on the same page in that regard), and a host of other people. That’s why I’m going to be appearing at Big Fandom Greenville in November, a first-year convention where I have no idea if anyone will show up (although given the historical tendencies of Upstate SC fandom, it’ll be a very good show).

I said yes when a writer I knew slightly from the interwebs and Facebook asked me to be part of a podcast where we play Pathfinder on Skype and record our ridiculous antics. That idea turned into Authors & Dragons, and now will be a live podcast from Contraflow in New Orleans in a couple weeks where I finally get to meet these guys who I’ve been playing a game with for a year! It also turned into a trip to Los Angeles this week, but I’ll tell you more about that on my blog after i get home.

I said yes when Darin Kennedy invited me to sweat my butt off in the summer sun in Lincolnton a few months ago, and that led to a great dinner with Darin, Matthew, Gail, Brian Rathbone, and Jake Bible, where Jake told me about his podcast Writing in Suburbia. Listening to Writing in Suburbia led to me having the idea to launch a new podcast, Writing Rants.

None of these things that I’ve said yes to put words on the page, or put dollars directly into my pocket (except for the signing in Lincolnton, which pretty much covered dinner). But they all expanded my visibility, put me in front of more people, made connections to other writers, and did work to expand my brand.

You have to say yes. You have to say yes, because if you say no enough times, people will stop asking. And if they aren’t asking you, they’re asking somebody else. While I don’t think that writing is a zero-sum game, and I certainly don’t feel like a book sold by one of my friends is a sale that I’ve “lost,” I do think that it’s my job to put myself in front of as many people as possible and give as many people as possible the opportunity to know how awesome I am and how much they’d love my books if they just plopped down their entire paycheck on my table.

So get out there and say yes. Don’t worry about your word count, you’ll get that done. You might not get much sleep, but you’ll get it done. And eventually, you’ll be able to tell your boss to shove it and then you can live the life of leisure of a professional writer! Then you can be the one working seven days a week hauling books across scalding parking lots, setting up tables, doing panels until the wee hours while your buddies are in the bar drinking and having fun, and then holing up in your room instead of going to other panels because you have to get your words in. Yeah, that glamorous life of a writer. 🙂

I never said it would be easy. But I say every day that it’s 100% worth it and that I wouldn’t want to do life any other way. See y’all in a couple weeks!

John G. Hartness is a teller of tales, a righter of wrong, defender of ladies’ virtues, and some people call him Maurice, for he speaks of the pompatus of love. He is also the author of the EPIC-Award-winning series The Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books, the Bubba the Monster Hunter series of short stories and novellas, the Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter novella series, and the creator and co-editor of the Big Bad anthology series, among other projects.

Latest Release News – Man in Black, Book #6 of the Black Knight Chronicles is available now wherever books are sold!

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