What Becoming a Writer Has to Do with Watching Bad Moms

Have you seen the movie Bad Moms? If you are a mother, you absolutely have to see it. If you’re a guy, not so much. You will find it corny and cringe-worthy and over the top with the foul language. Just like we mothers find The Hangover corny and cringe-worthy and over the top with foul language.

Last weekend, I took my two daughters to go see Bad Moms. And less than halfway through recognized that I was being a Bad Mom for making 14 and 16 year old girls listen, in excruciating and neverending detail, how guys who are uncircumcised need different treatment in bed than their brethren without a foreskin. Yes, criiiiiinge-worthy, I’m telling you. Bad, bad mom! But oh, it was delicious. Even my girls said so.

Bad Moms
Source: trailers.apple.com

But first, let me back up a little bit. In my last post, I introduced you to my fellow writer Clara Wiggin’s Birthing a Book: The A-Z guide, a lovely compilation of things that are important to a writer, one for each letter of the alphabet. Wordy as I am, I only managed to get through A is for Amazon.

Today, I’d like to take a look at M is for Marketing:

“You can’t just write a book, upload it to Amazon and then expect people to buy it if they don’t know it’s there…”

To be honest, that was exactly what I thought I could do after hitting “publish” for my first Kindle book. I uploaded it, sent out some emails to blog followers and friends, and thought I’d sell a few hundred books out of the gate, and then it would take care of itself after that.

Well, the few hundred books were a mirage, at least the idea of selling them in a week. It turns out that people, even your closest friends, need time before they buy a book. Or, rather than just needing time, they need to go through 5 steps, according to Catherine Ryan Howard who is THE authority on self-publishing. Before people will purchase your book, says Catherine, they have to:

  1. Find out that it exists.
  2. Stop and think, Hmm. That sounds interesting.
  3. Be convinced enough by the information about it to believe they’d like it.
  4. Find a place where it is for sale.
  5. Actually decide to purchase it.

I remember reading this in Catherine’s excellent book Self-Printed, and imagining it like one giant funnel. In Step 1, all your potential book buyers enter the funnel at the top, and in Step 5, only a select few squeeze through the bottom. It’s an impossible ratio, and the only way you can get a steady drip going at the bottom is to constantly shovel enormous numbers of candidates into that vast gaping hole at the top. It’s like you’re a stoker feeding the engine of a steam locomotive in the olden days, where you get to pour all your strength and sweat into swinging that shovel nonstop, because if you fall behind, if you can’t feed the beast enough coal, the train will come to a screeching halt, and to get it going again afterwards is very hard. Whew. It really is that much work to market your book.

But it’s not impossible. Much like anything else in life, you just have to start at the beginning and work at it step by step. You have to come up with a checklist of things you must do before (and after) you launch your book, and then go about the business of doing those things. To make it easier for you, I put together such a list in a series of blog posts, starting with the Book Launch Checklist for Self-Publishers.

I know I’m not moving chronologically, but I particularly loved the entry for J:

“J is for juggling. Anyone who is a writer, unless they are already well established, will know this one. Writing is unlikely to pay the bills. It also doesn’t do the shopping, pick the children up from school or fold the washing.”

Indeed. Writing, unlike anything else, teaches you to juggle. It never waits. You can’t expect to say “I’ll just write it down when I have time” and think anything worthwhile will come from it. No, you have to write it down just when inspiration hits. Which according to Murphy’s Law most likely happens between 3 and 5 am when you wake up with a jolt because it thundered, or the cat meowed, or your husband forgot to turn off the super early alarm that never seems to wake HIM up. You know the feeling: your brain immediately kicks into high gear and zooms to this place and that, mostly an ever-growing list of chores you have neglected and must tackle at once. But once in a while you get lucky and a story idea jumps up right between “must email principal about bad teacher of child #3” and “OMG I have not even started on husband’s birthday gifts” and when that happens, you somehow have to put it all on paper while the story is hot on your mind. If you don’t do it then, you won’t do it ever.

Forget cooking meals. There is enough in your fridge so that the rest of the household won’t starve.  Delegate laundry to the people who actually use the laundry (read How I Got My Kids to Pay Me to Do Their Laundry if you need pointers). They can do it. Skip the Christmas cards (pointers for THAT in It’s the Madwoman in a Volvo’s Fault if I Won’t Be Sending Christmas Cards This Year). Your friends and relatives will survive a year without them. Do anything you can to get out of pesky repetitive tasks, many of which you’ve only been doing because you wanted to be a Good Mom.

This brings me back to the beginning of this blog post. If you are good at juggling, by all means keep doing it. Run yourself ragged as the perfect mother and striving-to-be-perfect wife by continuing to do all that you have done for years, day in and day out.

But if you have trouble keeping all the balls in the air, if you wish you found a way of getting out of just some of your chores so that you can start partying typing the first chapter of that novel you’ve been carrying around in your head, then get yourself to a movie theater and watch the movie Bad Moms. It will inspire you to be bold and say, enough already. Enough with feeling guilty all the time.

Perhaps there is even a super-hot, kind, and understanding single-dad widower in your future.


  1. Dads should see it too. Great review thank you. IMO its a funny film for sure, but it also has a serious message about the shaming of the more powerless half of the parenting team.

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