Even though writing is a very solitary occupation, ironically it only functions, when it has an audience. Every author needs a tribe – a lovely way to describe the audience or more to the point, readers. It is our readers who help us stay afloat, who give us the inspiration and support to keep on writing. With the help of social media the author can gather and keep that tribe together by giving them a place to meet, a place personal to their relationship with the author.
Navigating this environment on a personal level is overwhelming, involving as it does, me trying to keep my balance, while I stand in a very rocky boat, rowing on an ever changing sea of elusive writing wisdom. However as Jane Friedman points out if readers know where to find you then it is very reassuring for them, gives them a feeling you care enough to give them that security. It inspires their loyalty.
Still feeling as if my identity, as a writer, is in the embryo stage I have managed to embrace what Jane calls a baseline (website). To keep this thriving I have struggled to tweet and not be a twit, pin on pintrest without being a pinhead, face book this dubious person (me), youtube without losing the video clip for at least two days (you had to save?), Google plussed (do you spell it with a double ‘s’, who knows?) in a circle when I have a square brain, and linked to Linkedin and Goodreads.
I have also tried to maintain writing posts at reasonable intervals, work on my series, work on the revisions of our anthology (more about this further down), and work in general (so I can eat and pay bills). God help us if my Unexpected Series is published because I will become a mediausermess. Yes, that last word is real. I should know because I made it up using three separate legitimate words – media, user and mess. Put together they spell reality and are a harsh awakening to what a real author does if they are serious about writing. Mental exhaustion is a pre-requisite to success or so it would appear.
Fortunately exhilaration is the other side of the coin. It had to be or the world wouldn’t have so many people desirous of writing. How can it not be when you get actual feedback from actual people on something you have actually created? However, with this comes responsibility. Cara Brookins, an author and speaker whom I follow with regularity says she judges a book by its cover. Bear with me because I am still on the same topic despite how it may seem. She admits she doesn’t want to but like most of us can’t help herself and is drawn to the visual pulses of colour and images. She adds “writing a book is a lot like the long waiting period for a child, and seeing the cover is a whole lot like seeing that baby for the very first time.”
I was quite taken with this analogy especially since babies are on my mind at the moment. My youngest daughter just had the cutest baby boy but that discussion deserves its own separate stage. Anyway, let’s suppose for a moment that the cover represents not just the cover but is a metaphor for the work created. Think about repercussions when it gets read. What if the results on reading are not at all what you expected or hoped for, what if the experience is less than perfect?
The baby cries constantly because it needs a change of diapers, formula or something we can’t even begin to guess at? Do you ignore its needs? Do you just suffer it and accept your lot and wait for time to ease the pain or do you find a way to improve the situation. Do you add colour to the cover in some way? I mean it was your idea to have the baby. Okay so I have jumped to cover, babies and back to the book itself. Are you lost? I think I may well be too, or do I make sense?
Laurel Cohn in her tips for publishing says we need to treat our text with respect and that means professional assessment and professional editing both in copyediting and proofreading. We as a group when working on the anthology totally agreed with this thinking but none of us were in the position to do it that way. Instead we took a risk and did it all ourselves down to that very cover. Waiting could have meant years of inaction. We made the choice to self-edit, self proof-read and lastly self-publish. Did we do the right thing?
A few days ago I spent six hours with Alyson at a coffee shop revising Stories of the Dark and Light to make sure that we did. We took feedback on board and made changes to respect this. Fortunately self-publishing an ebook gives us the opportunity to polish and upload without too much trouble. True it requires an inordinate amount of work but how else can we keep a tribe if not by showing we are prepared to take their thoughts and their opinions on board. I confess I was becoming doubtful about the risks we took but never about our willingness to listen to feedback and act on it.
I think the risk was justified. It brought us closer to our readers. Would we do it again? Absolutely!!! If we are willing to learn from what we attempt to do in life then it is a success. Learning leads to growth, to changes in ourselves that expand into what we do. So it’s time to move forward and onwards.
Next post I hope to hit you with some pieces from my upcoming romance. I am nervous but also looking forward to it. It’s time my Unexpected Series surfaced especially if it may bring more of the same in reader interaction.
A la prossima,