Why write if it's not to be read?
I’ve been writing for a number of years, almost solely for teens, and so far I’ve had one book published. I’ve written several books, and I have ideas for several more. In my last blog I talked about my need to start on a new book each Autumn. It’s now January and yes, I am deep into my new story and loving the main character, although I’m not sure the main character loves me for what I’m putting her through! Regardless, I’m writing and I know I’ll continue writing until the book is finished when I’ll read it through and edit it, and agonise over it before sending it off to my agent, who will cast her critical eye on it and deliver her judgment, and if it’s a positive one it will get sent off to the publisher who will do the same etc, etc...
But this is just one aspect of being a writer – of intrinsic importance, of course, and you can’t call yourself a writer unless you are prepared to go through all of the above – there are other aspects that might be perilous to ignore.
To be a successful writer these days, several other hats should be donned once the writing has been done. The same is true even to be a moderately successful writer. There was a time when writers did not have to don any other hats – there were people who did that for them. These hats include upping your profile, trying to get (hopefully rave, but no guarantees!) reviews – online and in the press, making sure everyone, including the right people know about them, doing signings, visiting schools, blogging about your new book, blogging about yourself, being active on twitter and facebook, getting interviewed, networking, courting bloggers and librarians, speaking at conferences, and finding as many platforms for yourself and your book as possible. (Even Margaret Atwood maintains an active Twitter profile)
Creating a bit of a buzz for your book is important. The books that find their way onto all the shortlists and often win prizes haven’t got there all by themselves, unless their authors have been extremely lucky. The writers have been doing all the above and more to ensure their book’s success.
Not as many people read my first novel, The Long Weekend, as I would have liked. There are so many factors that contributed to that. I’m putting my hand up and saying that one of those factors was my naivety as a newly published author. No one knew about my book and as I wasn’t shouting it from the rooftops or even holding it up for people to see, things stayed that way. I didn’t know about all the other hats I needed to wear if I wanted my book to reach its readers, I just assumed that others were donning them for me. Consequently my book was only in a few book shops and found by very few readers.
Now I know what I have to do and I have been trying to do that, if somewhat belatedly. I still can’t wear all the hats I’d like to wear, but that’s okay. Some hats are easier to wear than others and are less time-consuming, so I try to wear those. I know I need time to write and to have a life outside of writing! So one of the things I decided to do was to promote my book on the internet, and that’s where I found those wonderful book bloggers from around the world. Luckily for me, book bloggers don’t mind at all that a book has been out for a while because what they love doing is reading good books, and they’re more than happy to review them, and if they like the book they rave about it. They are avid book readers and they’ve built up reputations and followers who want book recommendations.
They love my book, and this has led to a blog tour across the States and Canada in February.
Followed by another blog tour in March, details to be announced here in February:
More people will get to hear about my book and hopefully more people will read it. Finally, my book is reaching its readers.
I haven’t got a new book coming out – yet. But when I do, I won’t be making the same mistakes as I did when my first book came out.
I don’t think I’ve got my head buried in the sand anymore, although I’ve still got a few stubborn grains of sand in my ears. I’ve learnt an important lesson this past year - I know what I should be doing, I know how much I am comfortable doing, and I’m learning how much I want to do and how much I can fit in. I’m finding a balance that works for me.
And, yes, I guess in the end I do write because I want to be read.