Sunday, May 16, 2010

CRIMINALLY GOOD SKILLS

Sunny here.

I realized the other day that I was taking many of the skills I used as a secretary for an undercover narc team and incorporating them into my writing career.

I'm not taking about discipline or keeping a filing system where I can find things, never my strong suit in the office. I was the type of worker who looked at the big picture and saw opportunity to go beyond my job description. I was willing to do the extra work and stay past quitting time without pay so I could try my ideas out.

When I worked in warrants, it seemed silly to enter a warrant into the computer, file it away and maybe the criminal would get served if we got lucky. Instead, I separated the warrants by areas, contacted the Area Sergeant and FAXed the warrant to the sub-station. Bingo! Suddenly there were more arrests than ever before.

My co-workers and supervisor said that was not my job. They would prefer warrants sitting in drawers for years instead of a simple phone call. I got commendations and a promotion.

One of my duties in Narcs was to take allegations of drug trafficking. Instead of filling out a report sheet, I used all the computer programs available, profiled the suspect and basically handed the detectives a case ready to investigate. I cross referenced everything so I could bring up allegations by name, location and drug of choice. Word got out and I was used by the FBI, DEA, BNE and many other agencies.

I saw yet another possibility: what if I put an alert on rap sheets when there was an allegation of weapons? I got permission, put it in action and now deputies and police officers didn't go in blind. When I retired, the four girls who replaced me scraped the system as “too much work.” When two officers were shot and killed in a local incident, the information was there but never distributed.

Old habits don't die. When I decided to market on the Internet, I saw opportunity and potential to use my creativity and skills in the same way that I worked Narcs. I color-code websites I'm on to see what needs updating. I keep a running file of announcements so I know exactly what I will post to these sites on Sundays. I “nudge” a number of authors to blog and respond to blogs. I check to see if they follow through on my suggestions.

Why go the extra mile? Shouldn't I be keeping my strategies a guarded secret? Why waste time helping other authors when I could be working on my own novels and publicity? It's all about competition and dollars—right?

Wrong. Supporting authors and websites helps me grow. I can't pass up opportunities or pretend I don't see them. I can't keep marketing tricks to myself and watch others struggle. The extra work doesn't stop me.

I figure it's part of the job.

18 comments:

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

I, for one, appreciate those who pass along what works and what doesn't. Thanks for sharing!

jrlindermuth said...

It always amuses/irks me when people say 'it's not your job.' They don't seem to get what you obviously do.
I like (and plan to copy) your technique of color=coding to help with updating.

M.M. Gornell said...

Looking forward to all your great info being shared at PSWA! Know that other authors appreciate your willingness to share and guide. Keep it coming!

T. L. Cooper said...

I couldn't agree more. Helping others helps us grow. Your willingness to help others as well as your openness about your career is inspiring. Like you I always take opportunities to help others because when we help one another we help the writing community as a whole. Keep up the good work!

Kit Sloane said...

Kit here,

I've mentored a lot of young writers and the one thing I tell them all is that ours is not a profession where "one size fits all." I think this is especially true in marketing. If anyone knew what worked for everyone, we'd all be doing THAT. As it is, I'm grateful for any ideas anyone has and Sunny is especially good at suggestions. Whether they work for me, or whether they fit my lifestyle (tours are OUT!), or inclinations, it's always great to learn new things. And I appreciate Sunny's energy!

David Cranmer said...

You have a very positive approach which is refreshing.

Holli said...

I always take Sunny's advice because I consider her a guru of marketing and promotion. I am nowhere near as organized, but am working on it.

Also, I one hundred percent believe we should be helping each other as writers. My peeps will read my work, but they'll also buy and read books I recommend. I'm not hurting myself by helping someone else, especially if they're willing to return the favor.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

One thing that amazes me is when I have a guest on my blog who doesn't bother to advertise the blog or come to the blog and post and doesn't comment on what others have asked or said.

Our promo panel at PSWA is going to be amazing!

Sunny Frazier said...

It certainly surprised me when I made the correlation between my former job and my writing career. To see the same traits come out, no matter what the situation, was an insight for me.

I'm glad many of you found value in the post. And very pleased to see new names here. Hi David and John!

Beverlyalauderdale said...

Thanks, Sunny, for drawing parallels between your former career and writing. It's a catalyst for considering how we writers can use our life experiences. And a big thank you for being an advocate for sharing/helping others

jenny milchman said...

Those sound like amazing optimizations of the system, Sunny--literal life savers.

One day I hope to have an organization called Writers Helping Writers. (Feel free to run with this since you have gotten here first :) One of the hardest things for me on my publication journey has been not being able to offer much--I have this dream of being able to refer someone to my agent or editor one day or even write them a blurb. I think we always have to remember that anything that helps shine a light on books and authors helps us all.

Anonymous said...

The ability to see beyond the borders is definitely important when you are reinventing yourself, and your career. If you can't think outside the box, then, how on earth do you write outside of it?

Great advice, as always, Sunny.

Judi said...

I *love* your post. It drives me crazy to hear someone say "but we've never done it like that." Thank you for sharing your ideas and your techniques. Keep 'em coming.

Sunny Frazier said...

Jenny, you've been doing much the same with your "Suspense Your Disbelief" blog. Many of us on this blog and elsewhere have been given space and attention in your well-read columns.

For those of you who haven't checked out Jenny's site, run over there!

Monti said...

Sunni, I wish I could glean a little of your organization from reading about it and bring it into my own crazy disorganized life! I'm trying. Thank you for sharing all that you do with us!

Monti
www.Pass2Paradise.com

Anonymous said...

Brilliant protocol. You should be a consultant!

Your roomie, Lou

WS Gager said...

Sunny: You are the master and I keep hoping for inspiration to get organized. It hasn't hit yet. Maybe at the Public Safety Writers Conference it will hit with fireworks, bells and whistles. Probably not, that will be the evening's entertainment. I am hoping!
Can't wait to see you in June!
Wendy
W.S. Gager
www.wsgager.com

Cindy Sample said...

Why not share what we learn and pass it on to others. Great advice for writers and living life in general. Keep those great ideas coming Sunny.