Monday, April 22, 2013

Writing Life: Howdy/Some Impromptu Writing Advice

I'm listening to Eminem right now.

My garbage disposal is broken.

And I kinda like Psy's new video "Gentlemen."

In August, I'm going to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Pinter's play "No Man's Land" and (FUCK.YEAH.) I'll be sitting in the second row.

I saw the "Girl."  Twice.

And I like the word Huzzah!

I saw a play called "The Motherfucker with the Hat."  We gave them a standing ovation.

The guys next door, the ones who live with a dachshund named Oscar, were shouting and whooping.  Must have been Giants game playing (random image).

I'm writing up a storm, as usual.  And I write on our writing group's Facebook page sometimes, when I feel like it.

I have not been writing here.   Dry as a bone with the blog posts.  Focused elsewhere.

I have nothing interesting to report.  That's because I'm working a major project which I'm not going to reveal to the vast majority of you.  Sorry.

I live a split life.  On one hand, I go to work, check FB, check email, sometimes post statuses, go to writing group, see friends and family, go to the theater, hang out in the city.

On the other hand, I'm seriously focused on this project, working my ass off.  Other writers keep asking what I'm writing.  I either give them a very vague description or refuse to tell them.  Trouble is, a few of the participants in my group have become regulars and they want to know when I'm going to start sending out my work.  I'm not going to do that so I say something vague about looking into self-publishing and change the subject.

I'm closeted, in a way, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future maybe for the rest of my life.

I'm seriously okay with this idea.

It's always a mistake to think that everyone is going to be interested in your stuff.  Your job, as a writer, is to identify who your readers are and go after them.  Or rather, it's your job to HELP your readers, the people who are going to love your work, to find you.

And it's not going to be all your friends and family either.

Who is going to love your work?  What are they like?  What are their interests and where do they hang out?  These are important questions.

Even more important is how you market to those readers.  I heard on a podcast that the best way to market your book is to write a second one.  This way when a reader finds you and loves your stuff, there's more for them to buy.  Ideally, you'd have at least five books in the hopper so you can keep some momentum going.  Yes, this is a long term project.

Blitzing people with emails about your book is just spam, gets lost in the shuffle.  It may work for a little while but you can't sustain your sales with that.  You have to get yourself out there in other ways.

What's your website like?  Is there a lot of content?  Have you been writing/blogging on it for a while so people can get a sense of your writing?  Is your face plastered all over the place but you have no content up there to show for it?  Take that shit down, for crying out loud.  People don't care about what you look like or that your name is in a giant sized font, they want to know if they're going to like your writing, and you.  The only way they're going to know that is if you give them something to read.  Free first chapter?  Pzzt!  How about a free short story or two?  This way people can get a good sense of your writing so they can make an informed decision about whether to give your book a shot.

What?  You don't have a website?  Get off your ass and set up a WordPress site somewhere!  Use the default theme, Twenty Twelve if you have to (it's not bad, by the way).  Get yourself a domain name and start cranking on that baby as soon as you can.  You need to start this shit when you start writing your book.

If you finish your book and people are curious about you but you don't have a website or your website is paltry and neglected looking or your website is all images and links to Amazon but no content for the reader to explore then he/she will move onto the next book (not yours).

Lastly, remember that writing a book and marketing it are two different skill sets.  Do not underestimate this truth or the attendant learning curve.  Do not ignore that you're going to have to do marketing and find your audience whether you get picked up by an agent and published traditionally or decide to self-publish.  There are a zillion articles, online courses, books that tell you how to leverage social media, blogs, etc to get yourself and your book out there.

Writing, like all artistic endeavors, requires a measure of ego.  It's the only way to steel ourselves against the people who aren't going to like our work or any scathing criticism that will come our way (and it will, believe me).  Not everyone will like your stuff.  I'm sure there are people who think this blog is crap.  That's okay because I'm willing to tell those people to 1) go fuck off, and 2) wish them good luck with finding a blog they do like, thanks for stopping by.

Besides, having faith and confidence in your abilities is not about ego, it's about being realistic about where you are in this process and giving yourself some credit.  I'm a pretty good writer and a better storyteller.  I really like my own stuff and the reasons why I'm doing this, the very core from which I operate, are rock solid.

It's an important mindset to evolve to.  It can be hard to maintain but if you can keep yourself there most of the time, you're doing all right.

Psy's video, by the way, is about an obnoxious jerk who plays pranks on people but I like his low crotch pants, bright jackets, sunglasses, the hip rocking dance, and the song is catchy.  I like this parody and especially like it when the women start hitting back with the pranks.