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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Two-Faced Writer


Did I get your attention with the title? This post is probably not what you think. It's not about writers who are kind to your face then stab you in the back later. And it's not a reference to the Roman god Janus who has two faces, one looking to the past and the other to the future. It's about the two faces a writer must wear.

Writers are Introverts. We work in solitude, in our caves with no distractions. Well, we wish we could work without distractions. Our characters live in our heads and "force" us to tell their stories. It's difficult for non-writers to understand that, but remember how cool it was having imaginary friends? Writers still do. Only we call them characters in our stories. I'm glad the writers of TV's "Castle" show him actually writing occasionally. I guess it wouldn't be much of an action show if they only showed a writer writing. Still, most writers can identify when his mother bursts into his office and he says something like "give me a couple of minutes, I'm at a critical juncture" and she ignores him.

Writers have to be Extroverts. Although we write in solitude, we have to surface once in a while—at least, to connect with family (what's for dinner, hon?) and friends (you have a new grandbaby? Oh, he's a year old already?). We like to gather in groups with other writers. I've written before about the marvelous writing group I belong to, the Mid-Michigan chapter of Romance Writers of America. Many of my writer friends will be in Anaheim this week at RWA's national conference. When we get together, either in person or online, we "talk shop" as people in other industries do. For many of us, getting out of our caves is hard. Hard to get out of our comfort zone. Hard to talk to strangers. Hard to get "dressed up" in business attire, make-up, stockings (pantyhose is a dirty word) and heels (oh, my aching feet) when we're used to writing in shorts and Tees or pajamas.

The hardest job a writer has, though, is promoting our own work. Writing the book is easy. Once it's published, that should be the end, right? Two words. No. Way. With thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of books published annually (monthly?), how will readers ever find ours? We have to tell them about it. A writer has to go where the readers are. When Switched was first published in 2001, I called bookstores to set up signings. As awkward as that was, the actual signings were almost painful. It is so much fun sitting at a table with a stack of your books in front of you and people dart a glance at you then hurriedly walk by. Remember the scene from National Treasure: Book of Secrets where Riley's at a booksigning? Perfect.

As I've learned with Switched as an ebook and now with Switched, Too, a writer has to have a website, a blog, an Author page on Facebook, even a Pinterest page and be on Twitter. Once I got over my initial trepidation of doing something new, I enjoyed setting them up. So, we blog, we tweet, we go on blog tours. We join reader groups like Goodreads. And when we guest on someone else's blog, we have to interact with those who stop by. For me, that is the fun stuff. Talking to others. When they take time to leave a comment, I'm thrilled. Interacting online doesn't have the awkwardness of a live booksigning where they want to talk to the author but aren't sure if they want to actually buy the book so they don't even make eye contact, let alone pick up the book. The Internet makes it much easier, comfort-wise.

Still, promoting oneself is . . . uncomfortable. Maybe it's a woman thing. We're taught to be modest and humble, not to toot our own horns. Writers have to get over that. We're not all Rick Castles with lavish launch parties. Even though he's a fictional character, I'll bet when his first book came out, he went through the same thing newbies do—generating his own buzz, sitting at a table while people walked by. I'd like to think that, anyway.

As I posted last week, cosmic forces or sheer dumb luck combined so that I was a guest on three blogs. What fun! I met new people and friends stopped by. I didn't have to drive anywhere. I could "chat" from my living room. Did that generated any sales? I guess I'll find out.

Meanwhile, it's back to the cave. Switched 3 (no title yet) is on the downhill slide toward the end and I have to find out what happens next. *grin*

10 comments:

  1. Ah, Diane, your blog is right on target. How I would love to simply be the introvert seated in front of the computer, but then again, it's great to get together with other writers, and it's great when a reader comes up and says she/he read and enjoyed my book. So I, too, am two faced.

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    1. Isn't it a great feeling when readers do that? I love it.

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  2. The title of this blog grabbed me for sure! Exactly what's it supposed to do. And what a great post. I definitely would love to stay in my cave forever. I'm beginning to learn that in order to sell ebooks, you need to stir cyber space. Ugh! Not fun for me. I have a terrible time connectiong. Oh well, at least it's cool in here. : ) Have a happy day!
    Teresa Blue

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    1. "stir cyber space" That's exactly right. Good description, Teresa.

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  3. Diane,

    Again, you speak for all of us. Love the writing, don't so love the promoting. And it is nice to have our group of fellow writers who understand us, huh?

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  4. It sure is great. At least, we're not working in a vacuum.

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  5. Boy, you are so right, Diane! Love the title, BTW! Awesome! I am an introvert extreme, lol. I've actually just started selling Thirty-One to get myself used to speaking in front of crowds again because now that I've sold my first and second book I just might have to crawl out of my writer's cave :) Wonderful post! Thank you!

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    1. Yes, you will (crawl out of cave), Jennifer. LOL Congrats again on your sales. WTG!

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  6. Wouldn't it be nice to just write the books and sell them and not have to do anything else? I guess most of us feel the same way. Of course if we had people lined up to buy our books, maybe we'd feel differently?

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    1. People lining up to buy our books? Wouldn't that be great! I don't think I'll ever get immune to readers saying how much they enjoyed my books. Now to just entice more readers to discover us--that's the trick.

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