When you hang out with writers, you recognize the signs of a writer going through the “marketing” experience of self-publishing. They talk incessantly about social media, blogging, Amazon sales, and finding high-quality reviews. Yep, you’ve got it; they are in the marketing phase.
For most writers, this experience means lost sleep, gray hair, and various signs of outward stress. Sure, there are writers out there that love selling their wares, but you and I aren’t one of them! For us, it can feel a little like selling your soul. We’re writers, not sales people.
The truth is that if you want to sell your books, you will have to be part of that process (unless you are an all-star author). That means putting in the time to build a platform, finding internet spaces to shout about your book, and handing out the occasional “bookcard” or bookmark.
I know, you’d rather be writing. I feel your pain! For me, balancing between a writing project and the marketing side is what keeps me sane. If I had to do all marketing at one time, it would dry out my passion for writing.
So, if you see the signs, help a fellow author out. Take them to coffee, listen to them rant, then brainstorm the next book idea.
A few weeks ago, my family and I went to one of those splash places. I don’t need to name names, but the kind with slides, a lazy river, and other indoor water activities. After my energy wore away, I sat down and watched my children romp around and eventually I watched other people. This is what people in the Midwest call people watching. Now let me make sure we are clear what I mean here. I don’t mean being the fashion police or passing judgement in any way. I mean observing. Carefully.
Sometimes people will catch my eye because they remind me of someone in a book that is presently percolating in my brain. Other times, something about how they move makes me think of specific emotions and I contemplate how I would show that emotion or movement with words. Maybe they have an interesting physical feature that I wonder how I would describe. Then my mind starts to bounce around in a land of imagined characters. I have to be careful, I can get lost there!
If you haven’t already, try it sometime! While you watch, think of words that describe the way a person looks and how they move. What words would paint a picture for the reader of his/her lips, face, neck, or eyes to give people a strong visual of what you see? Are their movements graceful, quick, or laborious? Go one step further and imagine a life for them. What character traits do you imagine for them? Maybe you notice a person who reminds you of one of the characters in your next novel. Think about how the visual that you offer adds to the character that you’re creating.
The same can be done with settings. Take some time soaking up different settings that you have visited. What words would be best to give someone a sense of the place? What did it look, smell, and sound like?
The next time you’re sitting somewhere public with a free moment, put the phone down, and take a look around. Let your imagination wander with your eyes. Now, don’t get caught staring too long at people or someone will sound the stalker alert, but at times it’s important for a writer to spend some time engaged in observation. Just be careful not to get caught!
How do you explore character or setting and ways of describing them? What helps feed your creativity?
When is it okay to call yourself a writer?
If you are reading this, you probably have some interest in writing. Have you written poetry, essays, novels, or all of the above? Do you call yourself a writer?
When is it okay to label ourselves as such? For me, this was tough. I am not the type to talk much about myself, much less advertise that I write novels. I know, we have to promote ourselves and such, but like many “writers” it’s just not my thing.
I have spent years writing, editing, and working to grow as a writer, but I still find it difficult to label myself as much. We had a similar conversation a long while back in my writing group and someone simply said to me, “you are a writer” and hearing it come from someone else’s lips helped quite a bit.
Now when the what-do-you-do conversation comes up, I list my other occupations and include that I write novels. It’s hard for me not to cast my eyes down when I say this part but I resist because if I can’t call myself a writer, why would anyone else?
So, when should we call ourselves writers? When the big publishing house calls? After our self-published books sales reach some magic number? Or after we’ve invested years of time and energy in developing the craft even if the masses yet haven’t consumed it?
I’m not blogging this because I have the answer, clearly I don’t!!! But I’m curious on your thoughts out there. So, I put it to you… When did you start calling yourself a writer? Or when will you?