Saturday, December 17, 2016

Three Things I Wish Authors Would Stop Doing

Oh, look at this quagmire. Stepping into this would be bad, likely irking many of my peers but definitely those that are in power--not that it matters, as power is only what they can enforce face to face or through scu--I mean lawyers. The truth is that the business of publishing breeds disillusionment, rancor, and general apathy I think too many authors indulge in when there are clear ways of looking at things differently for an constantly changing, ever-evolving business that is both beautiful and terrible as the morning dawn.

You're welcome.

Plus, I've actually clawed my way out of quicksand before. Yeah, there was rope involved, but that's because you should always have rope about you somewhere.

So without further dues and weights, here are...

Three Things I Wish Authors Would Stop Doing

(It was going to be ten, but then I realized I didn't want to make my readers slog through more than they had too by repeating myself. As in writing and in life--if you can do with less, do with less!)

1. Avoid Marketing Themselves

When John, Jaym, and myself first started Falstaff, John wanted me as a writer first before I volunteered to edit. I joined Falstaff Books because it availed me the opportunity to learn about being a success in publishing from the ground-level, something that few authors avail themselves and something many do not even consider on their journey. I knew what it was like to be published and paid--at one point I could even afford to pay a lighting bill--but I wanted to know what it took to produce a print copy of a book first hand, what kind of editorial was expected out of developmental and proofreading, how marketing was best accomplished for the desired effect, and what I discovered was that the final one is often neglected.

I cannot tell you how many authors I've met utter "I don't know what to post/market about."

Figure it out. Are you a person with interests outside of writing? Do you like baking, brewing, or anything? Post about that? Interact with others beyond just readers who you want to buy your work. Support other writers, artists, musicians. Talk about the things you like. It is as simple as you want to make it, and the more you do it the more comfortable you will be with it. And yet too many authors either lack the confidence or think themselves too high for such things--which is bullshit. For 30 minutes out of my day (and yes, sometimes I wake up early to do it), I can do a week's worth of marketing just on social media. This is part and parcel or how the business has changed to where simply being published and being distributed to bookstores is no longer enough. You have to build a platform, engage with the readership and your supporters, and build.

2. Twitter, Facebook, Blog Rants

I had to learn this one the hard way myself, especially during the 2016 election when things became so heated that civil discourse degenerated and remained so since. It wasn't until I started noticing that I had less and less interactions with the people I usually interacted with that the weight of what I was posting and writing really hit home--and this was made even more evident when it came to my griping about prospective authors submitting to the slush pile, who often fail to even read guidelines. I bitched, I moaned, I shouted, and while other editors liked and retweeted, I was losing a lot of people who would have listened to me otherwise if I had just stopped to explain my points instead of hammering home with vitriol.

So I stopped. I stopped yelling about politics, or people, or about the world in general. I still talk about the things that matter to me, but I talk about them in a way I wish others would speak to me if we were face to face. Unfortunately I know and know of authors who do not do this, and while I won't take away their right to say whatever they want on whatever channel they create for themselves, it does often lead to them excluding themselves from potential conversations, interactions, and considerations not only made by readers, but people that reside in the media in general.

Perception is everything now and we no longer have the consideration of intention, only the subjectivity of what our words convey. Therefore, in my opinion, it is better for authors to start dialogues instead of disagreements, evolve the conversation instead of enrage it.

3. Not Listening to Editors and Critiquers

To be honest, this one applies to less people than I usually run with, most of them being professional authors, publishers, editors, etc. This applies more to the people I meet at writing groups, critique circles, and at cons who express the desire to be an author, yet when they do to have their writing critiqued, edited, what have you, they get insulted when that editor or critiquer gives them constructive feedback.

To be fair to those people, I was there at one point as well. Writing is such a personal thing, and to hear that something was out of place or imperfect used to drive me up the wall with anger, disappointment, and self-loathing. What changed was my mindset--I had the experience of competing in martial arts and other contact sports growing up, and what I learned there was that there is no such thing as winning and losing, but winning and learning. Once I was able to grasp this again, I started looking at thoughtful criticism, even if it was negative, as an opportunity to become the best writer. Listening to editors and critiquers while taking what they have to say into consideration, even if you don't like it, pushes you forward.

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