In case you haven’t noticed, today’s writer has got it pretty good. We can do more with our time than any previous generation of authors; and we have their wisdom available to us, as well. There’s something else we’ve got, though; and it has dramatically altered the way today’s writer is able to present themselves. The internet has changed the way nearly everything is done, and the changes are only in their first few waves of rocking the world. Now we finally have access to the rest of the globe, or at least a lot of it; but even more importantly, we have a way to reach the people who will enjoy reading our books. We have a way to build a relationship with the people who love the things we write. No one has had that before, without doing some serious traveling or paying heavy postal fees.
Imagine sending out a newsletter to over a thousand people every week in the old days, and trying to time what day it showed up for everyone. It would have cost a small fortune every week; even a hundred would surely nickel and dime a small business to death. Now you can send out an e-mail to hundreds or thousands for free; it doesn’t cost much to reach more, and these are folks that are coming to you. You’ve got to catch their attention first, and give them consistent quality content once you do; but there is no end to where you can look for the people you most need to find you, for today’s writer. A weekly or monthly mailing lets some of the folks most important to you know that you’re working hard for them, and grateful for them.
We have a wide selection of tools to choose from, that no one has had before. The modern author can shave time off their research and writing schedule in a myriad of ways, giving them time to keep up on that newsletter. People are more interested in an author’s life than the author might tend to think. Giving them a peek behind the curtain every once in a while shows them that you’re trying; never failing to show up when promised shows that you aren’t doing this as an offhanded hobby. Today’s author has to make sure they know what is expected of them, and deliver on it. What a lot of writers don’t realize is that this is incredibly good news for us.
Most professions look a lot different from the outside than they do from the inside. Writing is a prime example of this. I always imagined the author as a pasty bent troll hunkered over a desk. The thought that they might care about what anyone but them thought about their books never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that they had talked to hundreds or thousands of people about their books, in an attempt to both get published and find their readers after publication. If they weren’t good at this, back in the day, they didn’t get published. If you aren’t good at this, even today, you’re shutting at least one door that your books need you to be holding open deliberately.
The day of the hunkered troll is over, if it ever really existed. Today’s readers know that writers are people; today’s writer needs to extend that same understanding to them. We need to get out there, and meet folks. Straighten that spine, think about how much you would thrill at meeting one of your favorite authors, and let that smile shine. Don’t be afraid that you’ll disappoint some folks, or turn them off by being yourself; they belong to a different family. Hold on to the moments when you connect with people, and gather your own intellectual brethren close to you.
Many of today’s writers are intimidated by the number of new books being published every day; it’s more than ever before! Yet this is good news, for readers and authors. It’s also math that we should be happy about; those new numbers include people like us, leave room for ideas that would never have made it through the old filters of publishing, and give everyone the same opportunities in publishing at last. The fact that there are more crap books out there than ever before doesn’t matter; if they are your competition, you aren’t doing it right.
Writing is a world where the only competition is with yourself. There are endless ways that today’s writer can improve themselves; if you’re not tracking your progress and making sure you’re on the rise, you are not a dedicated professional. That’s okay; being an amateur author was fine for the first year for me, and it can be forever for some people. Holding a print copy of your own book in your hands is a special and magical thing; realizing that it is like a child, and needs to be given special care if it is to grow to its full potential, is the next level of thinking; and it’s not for everyone. In today’s world, it’s relatively inexpensive to self-publish, and easier than ever. It’s a great tool for writers who want their friends and family to have copies of their books, and that’s all of an audience a lot of today’s writers care to reach.
The rest of us need to watch our babies grow to full adulthood, and surpass our own considerable efforts. We know we can’t do this without both being aware of our surroundings and keeping our noses to the grindstone. We know that we have to leave our comfort zones, and invest in that part of us that now has a life of its own. We know that being serious is not in what we say; it is in what we do. We don’t make sacrifices to ensure opportunity for our precious creations; we make choices, and they don’t hurt when we make them. Today’s writer must subjugate their whole life to their work to be taken seriously, and that’s a good thing. If it’s not your passion, it will show; if it is your passion, and you don’t give it all you’ve got, that will show too.
The good news is that the opportunity is there for those willing to work for it. The better news is that it’s also there for everyone else; any writer’s success or lack of it is completely in that writer’s hands, for today’s writer. Creative thinking is what we do, and it’s what is required to take our writing to the next level time and again. If we’re not constantly leaving our old self behind, we have no right to believe we should be moving ahead. Of course, that’s true for anyone.
I couldn’t fit all that I have to say about today’s writer in one post(surprise!). Rather than interrupt the flow, or change my schedule, I’ll have Dawn post part two sometime during the week. Next Friday will be a fun look at the future of writing, and what it might hold for all of us.
Thanks for reading!