AUTHORPRENEUR: Why It’s No Longer Enough To Be Just a Writer

18 06 2012

Oliver Standard Typewriter

*image from Flickr Creative Commons
With the rise in indie publishing and more options available to a writer, you can no longer tell yourself that it’s okay to just write and release your work into the world and it will find an audience. Even if you go with a legacy publisher, the publicity and marketing you feel your book should get and what it actually gets are two very different things, unless you’re one of their stable of bestselling writers that they feel is a sure bet to make them money.

To survive in the publishing landscape, every writer must become a hybrid between creative and marketer, an authorpreneur that both creates and markets their work.

The romanticized notion of a writer in their creative space, laying text on the page for their readers and sending it off when it’s finished, cueing end credits on the process, is over. That image has now pivoted. Where the end credits would have rolled is now the beginning of the harder work, getting the notice of the reading public. No longer is it enough to be able to write well, you must be able to sell yourself as a writer worth noticing and your book as something worth reading.

As more and more mainstream published writers turn to publishing their own works and the whole indie/self published industry grows out of its reputation of vanity and not being good enough for legacy publishers, the landscape is going to change dramatically, making a writer’s skill at marketing themselves and their work not just a necessary skill, but an invaluable one.

Every writer should be working on honing their skill as a marketer right along with their skill as a writer. In pauses between drafts, read up on social media marketing, start following blogs that review work in your genre and start commenting on posts, start your own blog and document your journey of writing your book, network with other authors on twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Most of all, study a writer that you see working social media like a rock star. Look at what they’re doing, what ratio they’re posting social comments to promotion. Every avenue of social media has ways of tracking how many people are reading what you post, whether they’re sharing it or talking about it and what days and times most people read your posts. Use the tools, they’re free and they’ll help make it more a part of the process of getting your book out there and less of a dreaded chore.

This listing has 50 free tools, there’s something in there for everyone.:

http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2012/03/18/50-mostly-free-social-media-tools-you-cant-live-without-in-2012/

We all have what it takes to be an authorpreneur. Start now, no matter what phase of your writing journey you’re in, it’s never too late.

The article that inspired this post can be found here:
http://jonfmerz.net/2012/06/14/rise-of-the-authorpreneur/





Knee Deep In The Edits

6 02 2012


One thing about editing is that it always takes a bit to talk yourself into starting, but when you get going it turns into a challenge that you give yourself on how much tighter you can make your prose.

I’ve had a good few months away from the intensive writing on the first draft of this and I’m doing an editing pass before doing a second draft. The space away from it has given me a little emotional distance and that makes it easier to find the words that don’t need to be there and the parts that don’t add to the overall story arc. Very few parts are escaping being touched, as you can see from the screenshot below.

I know the font is a little odd, but I find that American Typewriter seems to be easier on my eyes than Helvetica or Times New Roman for long periods of time. The rounded curves and close together letters of them seem to bleed together a lot more the longer I’m staring at the screen.
I also find that I can’t edit if I’ve got music going with words or even a lot of tempo changes. It distracts me from what I’m doing. I’ve found the perfect editing accompaniment for me is….the sound of a spaceship idling. Really. Someone out there on the internet put up a file on you tube of the ambient engine noise off of Star Trek TNG, or as I called it to my friend Shae, a white noise machine for geeks.
I also took part in my first Google+ hangout, with a few other writers, about editing for ourselves and others. It was interesting to see and hear how others do it and I learned a few tips that will help me on my way. If you haven’t already checked out Google+, give it a try. There are a lot of authors, writers and those aspiring to be on there and you can cultivate some great circles on there of people who post great content and take part in some great discussions.




Tempus Fugit

28 01 2012

I had the urge to write and no real desire to work on something already in progress. Instead, I looked at my surroundings and took in the sound of the town clock chiming and this is what came out.

Tempus Fugit

It’s funny how time flies.

Moving back to the city I grew up in is in equal measures familiar and alien. As much as this city changes, its core stays the same. There are reminders on every street of my past, the ghosts of remembered actions and conversations pushing themselves forward in my mind for their short moment in the forefront. Then the next street or building comes into focus and forces the ghosts back as others take their place.

I’m seated in a cafe across the street from the closest thing this city has to a central square. It’s a brick paved open area in front of the local mall, raised planter boxes sporting evergreen bushes trimmed into cotton ball shapes, tufts of wheat coloured grasses ascending with swaying stalks like tentative bursts of agricultural fireworks. Trees rise in the middle of the planters, their limbs bare and weeping towards the ground. The wind rustles them and their tips brush the ground, searching fruitlessly for the leaves they have lost

In them middle of the open, a clock is raised on a brick and concrete platform.  The centennial clock. Green and gold, it echoes the Robert frost poem. Green as the city it is celebrating, a hundred years not even a blink of an eye to the senescent cities of Europe and Asia. Gold like the years this city is heading into, the population ever aging and the city itself hemorrhaging jobs and with it the green that this city needs to renew itself.

The square’s clock is one of my ghosts. The low and mournful tones of its chimes, ringing out, carrying on the wind, making its reach arc out further than the silent sentinels of schools and theatres and playgrounds. The sound of the clock carries with it pieces of the ghost of my father.

He was involved with community groups and those have seasonal ghosts that come with them, fading as the heritage weekend, or historical re-enactment passes by in the waning days of autumn. The clock remains, a year-round reminder of both him and the time that pushes me forward on my journey and further away from the moment when his journey stopped.

Time does fly and even though the seconds, minutes,  hours, days, months, and years have stayed the same measurement of time that they always were, I’m finding as I collect more of them, the faster they, and the ghosts that live in between one measure of time and the next, come.

The ghosts used to be grudgingly accommodated, but now I find that as i collect more of them, they have lost their potency. The memories the ghosts carry with them no longer pull up regrets of past decisions, friends grown away from, or thoughts of paths not taken. Instead they serve to remind me of the journey that I’ve already travelled down and how those decisions have made me into the person, and more importantly, the writer that I am.

The writer in me is the curator of my collection of ghosts, separating those with stories to tell, from those that only serve as a milestone, remembering that point in my past, but offering nothing towards my future. The ones with stories to tell wait for me to give them away, covered in words and dressed up in names that are not their own. I will call them fiction, but my ghosts and I, we will know the truth.





Write What You Know and Other Bad Writing Advice

29 09 2011

Time just keeps flying past, doesn’t it? I’d like to say I’ve been
doing nothing but writing since my last post, but life as a funny way of
looking at your plans and laughing at you.

Oh, I have gotten some writing done, let’s make that clear. Just
not as much as I’d like to have done. That might be the never ending cry of the
writer though. No matter how much you get down on paper or screen, you always
feel like you could have done more. Even with working on a writing focused
course and working full-time in one city and then spending my days off in
another city packing up my house there, I still feel like I could get more
writing done. Not sure where, but there must be some place!

I seem to falling back into education mode easily enough. I guess
with being a writer, you never really leave it. You’re researching parts of
your plot, occupations of your characters and sometimes even the geography and
neighbourhoods that your story takes place in. Sometimes it’s to refresh your
memory of it, or to gain a new understanding of somewhere you’ve never been or
something you’ve never done. To write is to never stop researching and
learning.

Which makes me think of that often pulled out instruction to
writers: “Write what you know.”

My first instinct is to roll my eyes. If all writers wrote what
they knew, the literary landscape would be a pretty damn dull place. I’m sure
that C.S. Lewis has never been to Narnia, never met a talking lion or ever
encountered a witch beyond trick-or-treaters at his door. J.R.R. Tolkien has
never been to Middle Earth, didn’t speak Elvish or ever encountered a Hobbit.
Shakespeare was never a teenaged girl, ripe with emotion and doped up on first
love and had never been cut wide open by that first love falling apart. If they
all wrote what they knew, none of the masterpieces they created would exist.

Why would anyone tell an aspiring fiction writer to ‘write what
you know’? The whole reason someone is called to put something down from their
head onto the page or screen is because in the act of making things up, they’re
escaping what they know into where they want to be. That’s what writers do.
They make things up. Granted, it’s making things up with a lot of research,
creativity, plotting and re-writes, but when you get right down to it, that’s
what we do.

What writing advice have you gotten that you instinctively cringed
at? Conversely, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

 

 

*pic by kamikaze fowler, found on weheartit.com*





A Change of Scenery to Stop Chewing It.

21 04 2011

It’s been a bit since my last update about writing. Even though I did my best to not let my first rejection rattle me, even though I knew what I submitted was dark and probably not going to be an easy sell to a publisher, the email was enough to make me start second guessing what I’ve written on the story I’m working on now.

Even though I had every intention of getting back to work on the new novella right away, when I found myself staring at what I’d written and contemplating deleting half of my word count, I knew I needed to lift my hands off the keyboard and walk away for a bit.

I took some time off to be a reader for a bit. I finished two books Room, by Emma Donoghue who is actually living in the same city as me, which gave me a little hope. And Saving Rachel by John Locke. They were both complete mind bender books, one told from the point of view of a 5 year old boy who has spent his entire life in one room, being held there by, along with his mother, by a man he calls Old Nick, and the other being the type of story that loops back and twists and even at the end you still weren’t sure exactly what had happened.

I’m firmly of the belief that writers need to be readers as well. If you don’t read, it’s like saying you’re going to be a pilot but being never having flown because you’re afraid to fly. I also find it inspires and informs my own writing and like it has before, it definitely did that now. It blows a fresh air on where you’re stuck and helps you find the trail of your own voice again, because as you read you start thinking of how you’d word something differently, what plot twist would have been something you would have done, or not done. You start believing you can do this again.

Writing is a solitary thing and usually I’m fine with doing it at at home in the writing space I’ve created or anywhere else in my house, but delving back into my novella, I found that I couldn’t do this in a solitary space. I needed movement and voices around me, maybe to drown out the overly critical one inside of me that wanted to slash and burn as it went. So I went out to a bookstore and situated myself at a small table by a window in the Starbucks located inside. Armed with caffeine and pastry, I took a deep breath, opened my file and dove in.

When I was able to finally look at my own work again, without wanting to start over or take away half of my word count, I read over the 5,000 words I already had with a critical, but not masochistic eye. I edited as I went and only had to lose 1100 words and some of the exposition in those words has since been worked back in.

The voice of criticism that had leapt to the forefront was now being beaten back by the slightly sullen voice of Matthew, who hates the feeling of being ignored more than any other thing and then followed by Jonah who was used to being noticed in public and fading into the background and towing the family line in private, both of them bending my ear with what they’d been up to while the other voice had taken over. The reading and consuming of others words had given mine back to me.

This is why a writer is always, first and foremost, a reader. You find your own words from the words of others.





Six Word Stories – The Graphic Edition

14 04 2011

For sale: baby shoes, never used.—Ernest Hemingway


The above is the  original short short story that was written by Hemingway in the 1920’s after colleagues bet him he couldn’t write a complete story in just six words. He did and won the bet. Hemingway is said to have considered it his best work. 

I ran across a site today that took a visual spin on this concept. They pair up writers with graphic designers and deliver one story a day. Check it out, there is some great work that’s been done. 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/sly/six-word-story-every-day?awesm=awe.sm_5I9m0&utm_content=awesm-tweet-button-horizontal&utm_medium=awe.sm-twitter&utm_source=direct-awe.sm

My favourite, by far, is the one with the carrot. You just want to know how in the world that happened. 





First Rejection Out of the Way

12 04 2011

Yesterday I heard back from the publisher I’d sent out my novella to and they took a pass on it. I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. If you’re going to try writing to publish, you’re going to get rejection. And I knew going in that this story may not work on its own as a novella, it’s probably going to work better as part of an anthology, so that’s going to be the next step in its evolution. I had to try to see if it could be published on its own first, just to see if maybe it would work.

Bait is a little creepy and I knew it may not work as a mainstream work, so now I’m looking over Halloween anthology calls for submissions, to see what would be the best fit. We’ll see.

I remember reading in Stephen King’s On Writing, which is one of my favorite books on writing and he describes about impaling his rejection letters on a spike on his wall and when it became full, using another one. So really, one is not a big deal, especially when I figured it was coming.

It doesn’t mean you don’t start questioning yourself, your writing and whether you can actually write well. But, I’ve been writing long enough and been reading books on writing for too many years to let me talk myself out of continuing. Even if I never get published, I’ll still write. This rejection is just one of the milestones when you try to write for more than yourself.

And now, back to work. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from all the things that have happened in my life, both good and bad, is that you have to keep going to get through it or get it done.

“Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.  They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties.”- Bonnie Friedman