Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy -- no, not the John Le Carre novel, but a description of what a writer must be to succeed in today's Wild West of Publishing.


Looking at the blog today is a perfect example of the writer as Tinker. I'm tinkering with the blog design. I fixed the social media buttons, but at the cost of the pretty template I had. So I'll keep tinkering until I get the best of all elements.

Most writers, unless they contract out all the services of web design, promotion, writing/editing/formatting, etc., must learn how to do a variety of tasks, not the least of which is maintaining a website and blog.

I like tinkering around with graphics and HTML so this isn't a hardship for me, but many writers are technophobic and avoid these tasks completely. I always backup what I plan to tinker with so if I make a mistake, I can just backtrack.

Then there's tinkering with the book description, cover art, and all the other aspects of being an indie writer. In truth, as my friend Lois Winston  noted this week: "A writer must wear a lot of hats."


We writers end up tailoring our books to meet our ideal audience's expectations. That's not to say we write according to what readers request, but we do know our readers -- or we should -- so we can push their buttons and give them the reading experience they want.

I find myself tailoring a lot of the wonderful templates and files other authors share in order to make use if it. Most writers are so generous. When they create a spreadsheet or something that helps them, they usually share it.

Writers find what works for them -- on either the business end or the creative -- and they tailor their efforts to take advantage of that knowledge.


Readers, guess what? Writers are soldiers. We go bravely into the minefields of writing and publishing and fight our insecurities, lack of confidence, dwindling sales, and vagaries of fate every day. We soldier on, day after day, whether it's in writing or in marketing. Contrary to what many readers believe, writing never gets easier. If anything, it gets harder because the more we write, the more we learn and realize how lacking we are.


No, we don't spy on our fellow writers, but we do spy on readers. We hang out in bookstores and watch what readers buy. Those who are bold actually ask readers why they chose the book they take to the cashier. We hang out at book webpages, reading reviews to see what readers mention in positive reviews. We pay attention to what readers Tweet and FB because we want to learn what readers like. We're constantly gathering intel to see if we can spot trends.

Takeaway Truth

Don't be afraid to tackle something that's new to you. There's plenty of information on the web that explains how to do just about anything plus there are authors who are happy to help other authors or readers.


  1. Good post. Reminds me a little bit of the old job description of a mother that used to make the rounds-only of course, it's not long enough! Very accurate, though.

    1. Yes, writers and moms have a lot in common -- guess that gives us women writers the worst, uh, best? of both worlds.