Saturday, March 5, 2016

My Writing Process: Today Is About The Other Half Of Being An Author

Front entrance of the new South Parkersburg Library
When I first started writing that initial book, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when it comes to the other half of being a writer. And no, I don't mean editing. I've learned over the years that's more like the other 3/4 of writing. But I'm talking about the part about being a salesman, a shill, a huckster. I'm talking about the half of being an author, especially (though I'm hearing from traditionally published authors that it's not exclusively) independent authors, where I put myself out there, trying to get people to buy and review my books. I honestly thought that, by this time, I would be working with an agent and a publisher and they would be doing all the phone calls and making the appointments and getting my books out there for people to buy. But that's not how it's working out--at least not right now.

There are parts of the process I really do enjoy, though. Today is one of those parts. I'll be at the South Parkersburg Library on Blizzard Drive doing a reading and signing. The reason I enjoy it is I love working with the library staff, all book lovers who like promoting authors, even tiny little local ones like me. And I get to meet people, some of whom already know my books and, I hope, some to whom I get to introduce Harry and Dee and Jenn and Otis and even Eddie the Superdog. And I am happy to pay it forward a bit too. I sincerely wish that some folks come for me and get turned on by the amazing new facility that's been built in South Parkersburg, as well as the remarkable, cheerful, committed staff who work there, not just for the money, but also for the love of all things library.

Me at my very first reading back in 2014 (?!)
Another aspect of today I enjoy is the reading. I love to read scenes from a book and have people ask thoughtful questions that show me they really have read my work and are invested in the characters. Frankly, I'm less interested in great sales numbers (not uninterested--just less interested) than in finding that tribe, as I've heard it called. That small core group of people who genuinely enjoy and care about the stories I tell and the characters I create. I'm definitely not there yet in terms of tribe-building. In fact, there are times when I feel like a tribe of one. Well, two counting my good friend Pepper. But then someone comes along and asks when the next book is coming out or tells me they loved my last one or they gave all of them as Christmas gifts and their mom really enjoyed them. So, though I have a long way to go, I'm making progress. I hope today helps move me further down the road.

Yes, there are aspects I really don't enjoy and, frankly, am just not good at. Those are the active parts, like making phone calls to bookstores and libraries and organizations who may be willing to host readings or carry my books for sale. It's not that I'm too lazy. It's putting myself out there, the asking, the requesting. I'm not just asking them to accept my books. Those books are part of me. When I ask someone if they're willing to take on my books for sale or give me time in their store or library, in my mind, I'm asking them to approve me. Intellectually, I know that's not really true. But I'm not just an intellectual person. Heck, I'm pretty sure I'm not even primarily an intellectual person. I really do wear my heart on my sleeve. And as such, it's easily bruised. So I avoid situations that allow for that, more often than is good for me if I want to actually become a commercially viable writer.

So one of my goals for this year is to try to toughen up that heart and learn to wear that other author hat more often and with more facility. The hat that has less to do with creating characters and more to do with creating my tribe.

can, string, talk, speak, yell, hand, mouth, teeth, man, guySo here's the call to action: please come to my event today! It's at the South Parkersburg Library, which is just past the fire station on Blizzard Drive. I'll be there from 10am to 2pm, so you have plenty of time to stop by. Even better, invite a book-loving friend to come along.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to add that my reading and signing went well Saturday. I gave out lots of bookmarks and talked to many people. Book sales weren't stellar, but I had an enthusiastic audience for my reading. If you go to my webpage, you'll find a link to a brief video from it. Video credits to Maria "Pepper" Delgado.