You might be asking yourself why I would want to talk about connecting with people. After all, as a writer, you write a story and people read it, right? They buy your book, you collect the money and write another and the cycle of reader/writer life simply goes on in perpetuity.
I suspect those of you who have some inkling about the challenges writer’s face are already laughing. If you aren’t laughing, I think you might need a small (or large) dose of reality.
The truth is, your writing won’t resonate with everyone. It has probably happened to you too; you pick up a book and start reading it only to quickly lose interest and put it down. It’s happened to me in the past and I have no doubt it will happen again in the future.
It’s kind of like when you were in school. Some people liked you, some hated you and some probably didn’t realize you existed. So how can you overcome the problem? How can you get everyone to like what you write?
The answer is… you can’t. No matter what you do, someone will not like what you write. Now before you get all depressed, I have a question for you: do you like what you write? It might sound like an odd question, but you are the one doing the writing, after all. You should like what you put down to paper. If you don’t, it will shine through in your writing and you will eventually quit because you hate what you do.
I know what you’re thinking… if I’m the only one who likes my writing I’ll never become a professional, published author. I want you to stop that line of thinking right now because I didn’t say you’d be the only one who would like your writing. Just that you need to like your own writing. The more fun you have with it the better it will become.
So, for a moment, let’s consider that there will be people who don’t like our writing, or who don’t like all our writing (I expect you to have lots for people to chose from eventually). Are you there with me? Good. Now let’s forget about those people and go back to the high school analogy for a moment.
Remember I said there were people who liked you and some who didn’t know you existed? Think back to the ones who liked you. How did those friendships start? Did you get the same, brutal assignment that you worked on together or maybe you both learned you hated dodge-ball. Whatever the reason, you met at some point and a friendship developed. Now consider how those people are different from the ones who didn’t know you exist.
The difference is likely that you didn’t travel in the same circles or that chance meeting simply didn’t happen. Let’s draw the parallel to writing now. When you first get started, few if any people know who you are. Readers don’t know you exist. To get them to like your writing, you must have those chance meetings.
Some beginning writers believe that when they get published the readers will come. I’m not sure why; perhaps they think publishers have massive marketing budgets or maybe they think magic will occur. Miracles have been known to happen.
Realistically, readers will only come if they discover the newly publisher author. That means a lot of hard work for the author these days. Am I talking about book signings and appearances? Not by a long shot! If you are only starting with those, you’re already behind.
You need to start the connecting before your book is published, before you have even been picked up by a publisher. That may sound scary and you may not know how to do it but it can start very easily.
Start as simple as telling people you write and go from there. I started blogging about it with some friends and gained a few followers that way. I joined Facebook and Twitter and found some equally-minded people. Then I did NanoWriMo and made sure I attended the gatherings. This year I went to two conventions: one was a Science Fiction/Fantasy fan convention and the other was the World Fantasy Convention.
Was it easy for me to walk up to a stranger and introduce myself? Far from it, but it was a worthwhile effort nonetheless. I met several publishers (good people to know since they will ultimately be the ones to see your story into print), agents, other writers and readers. Those people will be more likely to see one of my books (when they come out) and say, “Wait a minute! I know that guy. I think I’ll pick up the book and see if he’s any good. If you’re very lucky, what you have written will resonate with that person and they’ll tell others.
Even if they don’t like it, they at least know you exist.
I’m working hard on my NanoWriMo book. At the time of this writing I have just passed the 8,000 word mark. It’s not quite as far along as I would like, but it does put me on track to finishing by day-25 of NanoWriMo. My handle is mplested in case you want to make me a buddy.
I’ve taken on administrator duties for the Dragon Moon Books Facebook site (http://www.new.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-Moon-Press-Books/23441824179). I’m hoping to, you guessed it, connect with more people, plus help out a local publisher. It’s a win-win situation. Come by and join if you get the chance.
I’m preparing my next submission package for my second YA book. I have several candidates in mind and expect to send it out in the next couple weeks.
Have a great week!