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.