Not Enough Homework.

I get requests every day from authors – usually via email, asking for advice. How do I market my book? What’s an ISBN number? Is it important to have an eBook as well as a print book? My eyes are starting to roll back into my head.

I don’t mind helping and advising and what have you – but people need to do their homework. I’m not going to handhold if someone isn’t willing to put a little effort into it. This world of instant communication on the internet has made it way too easy for people to rifle off an email and let someone else do the work for them.

Here’s a question back: in the time it took to email me, couldn’t the answer about ISBN numbers for ebooks been just as quickly looked up on the Kindle or Smashwords web site? And here’s the answer: Why, yes, yes it could have. How do I know? Because I just did it last month.

The internet isn’t the only place I’ve seen this happen lately. It happens everywhere, even in hockey, too. Last month, Washington Capital player Jay Beagle got into a fight with Pittsburgh Penguin player Arron Asham and got knocked out. People were appalled because Beagle is “a rookie.” I do feel badly for Beagle, he hasn’t played since the fight, however, that is the risk you run when you engage a seasoned fighter like Asham.

Way the hell back in like 500 BC, Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” Why is that suddenly no longer true?

Isn’t that why sports teams have analysts? To tell them who/what to look out for and when? Someone does the homework for the team so they can go out and take advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses. Generals do it during war. Advertising firms doing it when marketing their clients. It needs to be done to survive.

What does all this have to do with anything? Homework isn’t a bad thing to do. It makes you look smart, prepared and people will take you seriously.

For example, I was on a radio show a few weeks ago. I listened to a couple of broadcasts in advance so I’d be familiar with the format and what the specific audience was used to. And thank goodness I did. I was completely prepared for the lackadaisical and self-centered attitude of the host. I didn’t get flustered, and I was able to roll with it. If I hadn’t have been prepared, I would have been blind-sided by the ridiculously unprofessional interview. (Despite the fact that my press kit had been forwarded to them – they couldn’t even remember my name – and showed no interest in doing so.) After the interview I received comments telling me how great I was, and how offensive the hosts were. Homework, my friends.

Today someone didn’t know what to do about being invited to guest post on someone’s blog. They didn’t know the rules or even really what a blog was. There is only one correct answer to that: HOMEWORK. If someone invites you to do a blog post or interview – go to their blog and check it out first. If it’s about sacrificing baby bunnies to Satan – and you’re a devout Catholic, then you SHOULD have your answer. KNOW your audience. KNOW your enemy. Blog is such a widely used term – the only thing that matters is what blog means to the person who invited you to post. I’ve been invited to participate in many blogs that have extreme adult content. I write suspense novels AND children’s books. I can’t send my readers to something like that.

In school, if you didn’t do your homework, you didn’t get a good grade. Why is it any different in real life? I bet Jay Beagle is wishing he’d done his homework.

copyright 2011 – K. S. Brooks

About ksbrooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning writer and photographer, author of more than thirty titles, and administrator of the multi-national, multi-author, award-winning site Indies Unlimited. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books, and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit
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16 Responses to Not Enough Homework.

  1. Smoky Zeidel says:

    I get the same thing–especially requests to be introduced to my publisher, or requests that I take a look at “small” writing samples (which often end up being 10 pages or more). You don’t want to offend people–after all, they’ve written to you because, obviously, they look up to you. But it can be a delicate balancing act, giving enough encouragement that they remain fans, but not so much they think they can take advantage of you.

  2. I’m too stunned to comment most of the time when people ask questions on Facebook (for example) rather than simply “asking Google.” Likewise, my Google alerts settings turn up way too many people asking questions in other forums that they could have figured out for themselves faster than typing a long-winded query in a forum.


  3. Go Kat, go!
    I particularly liked the hockey analogy. Know your audience, do your homework. There is so much great info on that thread and I am shocked that ‘writers’ don’t take advantage of it. I certainly have, and am forever grateful to those who shared. Say hi to Mr. Pish.

  4. Zachary says:

    OMGosh! This is so awesome! It is as true as true can be.
    Laziness is the rule but it shouldn’t be. Research should be a mindset. Common sense doesn’t hurt either. K.S.Brooks is so on target. This blog is truly awesome & should really help anyone who
    is serious in whatever their field might be. Keep ’em comin’, K.S.!

  5. Amen Kat:

    I admit I have asked questions in discussion groups but I also do what I can on my own. And when I do get help I am grateful for the time and generosity of those who have given it. But we all need to do what we can on our own. It not only is more responsible, it gives us such a sense of accomplishment when we succeed. And that is much more valuable that being spoon fed. I guess the bottom line for me is balance and moderation. Do what you are able, ask when you are not and give when you can.

  6. keithrossiter says:

    I think it’s an attention thing, the silly questions. I’ve had a couple of people go to the bother of tracking down my phone number and calling with ridiculous queries they could have answered on Google in seconds.
    PS … Got here via your excellent advice on book signings. Now all I have to do is finish the book!

  7. Pingback: Not Enough Homework | Indies Unlimited

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