Can we chat?

14183769_10154105636729145_3475893206531129845_nSo this is how it works.

I finish writing a book. I have about two minutes of absolute euphoria, and then reality hits.

This wonderful story, the one I’ve just dedicated my life to writing, the one that has wrung every emotion from my heart, now must be shared with the world, which means I need to work on the dreaded P word: promotion.

If you ever become exasperated, feeling you’ve seen the same post over and over or perhaps different posts about the same book . . . trust me, we authors feel the same way about promoting. It’s not our favorite part of being an author.

In my perfect world, I’d finish writing my book and then sit down with a group of my favor readers to chat with them about it. We’d get lost in characters and plot lines and so on . . . and at the end of our lovely tea, they’d go out and tell their friends about the book, who would in turn tell their friends . . . well, you get the gist.

Meanwhile, I’d sit back and work on the next book.

Now, though, my chatting takes place on social media. When I post a picture or a link, it’s my only way of telling people when to expect the next book. Live events are lovely and give me a chance to talk to readers in person, but there’s a limit to how many of them I can do. And so the internet it is.

Of course, I’m very lucky that I have my dear Temptresses with whom to speak. They let me go on and on about characters and stories, and I’m grateful. (If you enjoy my books and want to join us on the Temptress group, go here.) If only we could mystically meet up each time I finish a book and talk it out in person! They’re also awesome about sharing and twisting friends’ arms to get them to read my books . . . I adore their enthusiasm. It’s what keeps me writing.

Regardless of the opportunities offered on the web, nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to books. You telling a friend about a story that captivate you is more effective than fifty Facebook ads. Sharing your favorite reads is so important!

Well . . . since it seems no one is going to come bring me tea and chat about Days of You and Me just now, I guess you’ll keep seeing the pictures, the promos and the posts. If you feel spunky, shares are always appreciated, as are posts and tweets and emails . . . whatever does the trick.

That’s part of this author’s life.

Writers: A Higher Standard?

{This post originally appeared here three years ago. It’s a rerun because this week, this author is on vacation! That’s right, folks, I actually have a life. So enjoy a little blast from the recent past. It holds true even for today. See you next week!}

These days, I spend a good deal of time with other writers on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  It’s wonderful to interact with these creative minds, and most of the time, I really enjoy it.

tumblr_lvhuqruxUd1r1vzzeo5_r1_500But every now and then, I see a tweet or post pop up. . something along these lines:  “This is how my book got it’s title!”  Or “My characters love there story.”

Cringe worthy grammar issues make me. . well, cringe.

Am I too picky?  Maybe.  After all, these are just a few lines tossed out into cyberspace; it’s not the Great American Novel.

True. . .but shouldn’t authors, people who have chosen to embrace the written word as their vocation or avocation, be held to a higher standard? At the very least, shouldn’t we use the basics correctly?

My own personal biases are the least of the reasons to watch our grammar. As indie writers, we are already fighting preconceived notions that we just weren’t good enough to make it in the world of traditional publishing. I’ve encountered some traditionally-published writers who sniff (in their tweets of 140 characters or less!) that indie books are poorly written, poorly edited, amteurish imitations of ‘real’ books.  Why should we give them reinforcement for that argument?

You can be a writer even if you don’t know all the basic grammar rules, but you’ll be a better writer if you make the effort to understand them. Learn how to use there, their and they’re as well as its and it’s.  Study sentence structure.  And then pay attention to every tweet and post.  Yes, we’re all going to make mistakes here and there. That just means we need to proofread all the more vigilantly.

Writing well truly is its own reward. . .and the best revenge!

Oh, Behave

As I’ve said in earlier posts, the indie community is small and sometimes a little incestuous. There are rarely six degrees of separation; most authors’ friends lists intersect with all the others, and word spreads fast.

So whenever there’s an instance of an author Behaving Badly, it doesn’t take long for the story to get around. And I know it’s a shocker, but sometimes the facts get lost along the way.

I don’t claim to have it all together. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else out there. But I was raised right, by parents and grandparents who made sure I knew what was what. And although I’m nearing the end of my fifth decade and all of those wonderful people have moved on to a better world, I still know better. Most of the time.

its-time-to-stop-postingI know, for instance, that when I’m in public at an event, representing my profession and my books and my branding, I need to Behave. I smile no matter what, and when people say outrageous things, I do my best to nod and keep smiling. When I’m tired and ready to go hide in my room, I really try to pull out some extra energy and keep on keeping on. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve been less than outgoing; I’m not an extravert, and I have to force it.

When others make different choices, when we feel as though Bad Behavior is encroaching on our own rights, we might be tempted to vent. Some of us might want to vent on social media. This, dear ones, is not a good idea. Vent to your mother, your sister, your husband, your therapist. But spouting off on social media, no matter how justified you feel it might be, is Not Cool. And it won’t lead to resolution; it will lead to more Bad Behavior and to people taking sides and to nastiness all around. Don’t do it.

But if someone does decide to vent on social media, don’t respond. Be the Bigger Person. Hide the complainer, unfriend her, turn off your computer and your phone or do whatever you must do, but avoid engaging.

I’ve heard the excuses. I’ve heard authors claim that readers “deserve to know” about an author or an event or another reader. Dear ones, they really don’t. They don’t deserve to know, because it doesn’t affect them. A bitchy author who writes excellent books doesn’t need you to bring her down. Karma will do it. Or not, but it doesn’t matter to you. Move on and in the immortal words of Taylor Swift. . .Shake It Off.

Call me Pollyanna or say that I’m wearing rose-colored-glasses, but I promise, life is much nicer when you step away from the drama. When you close the computer, turn off the phone and just say no to posting something negative. Focus on the positive; talk about the wonderful sweet and helpful authors out there, the ones who cheer on their compatriots. Tell your readers about how fabulous the event you attended was.

Or in the words of Austin Powers. . .oh, behave.APimages

#Monday Blogging: A Day in the Life

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

That’s one of the most popular quotations floating around social media boards frequented by writers. And it’s true. Writing is only as hard as the author’s ability to be open, to lay herself naked to a world of readers.

Uncle Ernest had it easy. He lived in the days before the internet.

In so many ways, today’s authors are very fortunate. We can interact with our readers instantly; we don’t have piles of letters to answer, and we can share new information right away. But at the same time, that accessibility is a curse, because it can be a very big drain on our limit time and strength.

Let me show you what I mean. I wake up in the morning, and immediately I’m given a report on yesterday’s sales. That can be good news or bad news, but I know it, right away. And I usually wake up vintage-typewriter-100234507to messages and emails from readers (especially those around the world, whose time zone is different than ours), from promoters, from fellow authors and from other people in the industry.  I respond to the ones requiring immediate answers and flag those I’ll handle later.

Each day, I chat with readers. That’s the part of the job I love. I follow up on the commitments I’ve made to bloggers and other on-line personalities. And then there’s the event work.

I’m committed to attend six events next year. Each event requires me to spend time promoting it to readers, building up ticket purchases and hotel reservations. I love to share the information with my readers, and because I care about the events and the people making them happen, it’s a privilege to do this. But it does take time. “Just five minutes” here and there turns into an hour.

I talk with new or about-to-be-new authors, giving them information and advice. I try to calm nerves and encourage.

I love what I do. Writing is a joy, and sharing it with others is beyond the telling of it amazing. Every part is something I enjoy doing. . .it’s just that when you put them together, they add up to a more than full time job. I’ve known authors who get so wrapped up in the extras, they lose sight of the reason they’re doing this. It’s important not to do that.

And now I’ve got to get back to it. To the pure writing part. . .which is the point of all of this, right?