I’d like to just write. Ideally, I’d type up masterpiece after masterpiece, and once each was done, I’d send them off to a magical publisher who’d pay me a slightly-better-than living wage. This fantastical publisher would never bother me for blog tours or interviews. I wouldn’t need to worry about marketing of any kind. I’d simply create worlds with words and leave the details to others.
Alas, I do not live in this ideal world.
The simple truth is that unless your name is immediately recognizable by the public, unless you’re someone like a Stephen King or a John Grisham, you need to market yourself and your books if you want to make any kind of money from your writing.
My mother-in-law is visiting. Among other things, she teaches English. She was talking about some of the grammatical things she was teaching students this year, listing off a bunch of terms. It was enough to make Mr. Miriam-Webster himself go cross-eyed. (Mr. Miriam-Webster is the fictitious child of Mr. Miriam and Mr. Webster who flings dictionaries at evil-doers.)
I commented that I was glad I never had to learn those terms. Honestly, I’m convinced it’s not necessary to know the terms to write well.
That said, you do need to know how to use grammar well, whether or not you know the terms. Grammar tells you how to communicate what you want to communicate. How do you form sentences? How do clauses come together to form thoughts? If you use bad grammar, you’re not communicating effectively. You leave your reader frustrated. (My editor notes that your editor also won’t kill you if you use good grammar. I’m in favor of non-homicidal editors, so please, use good grammar.)
There are a lot of things to read. You want to absorb your own genre. You’ll likely be best at writing things that you enjoy reading, so get reading. Thankfully for me that involves reading a lot of fantasy and science fiction. I can handle that!
You’ll probably need to do some research. That can be fun and a lot of work, too. One story I’ve been hacking at for a while involves a mage who “bakes” spells. I know a little about modern baking, but what about baking in a medieval society? Ah, the internet is my friend!
There’s a bit of conventional wisdom I’ve ignored that may bite me.
Yesterday, one of my new short stories debuted, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep.” You can go read it for free. You’ll find it a quiet science fiction story. I’ve got a few of those out, like “The Singularity Loves You.” It’s not my most prolific genre, but it’s there.
I also have some pulpy science fiction and steampunk adventures. You can go flying on a mechano-pteradon or on a jetpack if you so desire.
I’ve got a fair chunk of fantasy. My novel, Keeper of Tales, might be the premier example of that.