I am not yet good enough or well know enough (and won’t be for a while) to have people come knocking on my door. Or realistically emerging in my living room through the means of the internet. Well known and prolific writers are however experiencing this. The internet has allowed some people who don’t have a sense of boundaries to step over the front gate and open the door into your abode.
In one article by Joanne Harris she describes how some people do not realise what they can realistically expect from their favourite storyteller. Expecting authors to write books to order, not taking into account that these people live in the real world. They have to find time to earn an income if they do not get enough from their writing, which is most authors by the way! They also have to manage that money along with their time. They are human after all. But at the same time she realises the value of readers.
With all that being said, Harris created a manifesto in which she states what her writing is about. It is advice I’m going to take because it frees me from the confines of my own mind and feelings. This is how she interacts with her writing and readers. It is also how I want to base my writing career to.
- 1. I promise to be honest, unafraid and true; but most of all, to be true to myself – because trying to be true to anyone else is not only impossible, but the sign of a fearful writer.
- 2. I promise not to sell out – not even if you ask me to.
- 3. You may not always like what I write, but know that it has always been the best I could make it at the time.
- 4. Know too that sometimes I will challenge you and pull you out of your comfort zone, because this is how we learn and grow. I can’t promise you’ll always feel safe or at ease – but we’ll be uneasy together.
- 5. I promise to follow my story wherever it leads me, even to the darkest of places
- 6. I will not limit my audience to just one group or demographic. Stories are for everyone, and everyone is welcome here.
- 7. I will include people of all kinds in my stories, because people are infinitely fascinating and diverse.
- 8. I promise that I will never flinch from trying something different and new – even if the things I try are not always successful.
- 9. I will never let anyone else decide what I should write, or how – not the market, my publishers, my agent, or even you, the reader. And though you sometimes try to tell me otherwise, I don’t think you really want me to.
- 10. I promise not to be aloof whenever you reach out to me – be that on social media or outside, in the real world. But remember that I’m human too – and some days I’m impatient, or tired, or sometimes I just run out of time.
- 11. I promise never to forget what I owe my readers. Without you, I’m just words on a page. Together, we make a dialogue.
- 12. But ultimately, you have the choice whether or not to follow me. I will open the door for you. But I will never blame you if you choose not to walk through it.
I just read an article by Sara Sheridan on authors/writers and using social media. As I read it I was shocked at how adverse other authors were to setting up a blog, a twitter account or facebook page in order to increase their notoriety. At uni I did a class that specifically revolved around online social media and the publishing sector. And in another we looked at the idea of discoverability.
Discoverabilty is pretty much the most important thing that a author/writer needs to have. If someone can’t find your work then they can’t read or buy it. And the people in this article seem to not only complain that they are losing readership, but they seem adverse to even try to gain new readers. Its like they are intentionally trying to cripple themselves. You can’t afford to stop putting in effort on your novel once you finish writing it. Publishing houses now have to expectation that you have social media skills because, well sometimes they don’t.
As an author you need to put yourself out there. And you need to do it before you publish your first book. The more attention you can garner the better it will sell.
You’ve got a story all written and edited? Is it just sitting there next to your computer all printed out? Or is it safe on a usb with copies save in numerous internet storage locations? Thought that because you love your stories so much that publishing houses will feel the same. Did you want to off yourself when you were lucky enough to get a response rejection letter/email etc? Or maybe you were in the group that simply didn’t get a reply at all?
Imagine what you can do with all that time you have spare after you have stopped:
- Chasing after agents that run a mile from you,
- Waiting for that inevitable rejection for that wordy baby of yours. (cause believe me you ain’t getting shit),
- Envisioning publishing houses will like you and your book (they’re a business, not a friend and they’d ditch you at the drop of a hat or worse sell your book to another company and you can’t do shit),
- And have finally pulled your head from the sand and realised that you are not the only writer out there, you are competing against all others for mass market publication (most money from one thing) and knowing that no matter how hard you work, someone else better or OMG worse than you will be published instead. Shit happens and it’ll happen to you.
Then have no fear you can ditch those bloody shits and self publish! God forbid, it’s not like publishing houses know a good quality book when they see it. Vintage Books I’m talking about you!
The other day I came across an article that asks the question ‘Are Self-published Authors Really Authors or Even Published?‘ I must admit I spent more time reading the comments as people had diverse and fascinating such opinions on it. While people talk about the difference between traditional and self publishing routes, one comment by Peter_Kenneth_C_Bicknell stood out: readers determine if we are legitimate authors or legitimately published. This reminds me that it is readers not publishing houses that control how books are viewed. It doesn’t matter where it is published all that matters is how the reader who holds in their hand views it. If they think this book is poorly written then it is most likely poorly written.
It is pretty much established that in the world of self-publishing there is a lot of crap out there, but it is the same with traditional books. Or as Eric Cartman stated (think of books as friends) ‘This is the way the world works, if you want to find some quality friends you have to wade through all the dicks fist.’ Sometimes you have to wade for quiet a while.
I have to admit about a year ago I submitted some first chapters to a few Australian publishing houses, knowing that I wouldn’t get picked but hoping nonetheless, only to receive nothing. And after going to Melbourne Uni I began to realise how unbelievably difficult the publishing industry is to break into. In terms of employment and publication. I kind of wished that I never submitted because then I wouldn’t be just another rejected book. But now that I know what I’m up against then I’ll just bypass it all together and self-publish as I see it as a more attainable for me to become an author.
For people that go the self publishing route please put effort into your books. Better quality does sell because readers leave reviews commenting on how good it is. Both in the editing and story structure. And if you think you are ready to hit upload on a self-publishing website, then I’d advise you to do another edit.
And for the love of God don’t begin your story by misspelling to word ‘prologue‘ as ‘prolog‘, readers will start your story, if they do, with a low opinion.