I need space. I need light. Like a plant. That’s why I installed three more windows in my house and that’s why I decided to try blogging. Writing stories, poems, and articles to be published is different from writing other stuff people can read: opinions, ruminations, random acts of thinking, giving advice, providing information I think other people may need or just be interested in, offering encouragement, giving shout outs to (mostly) other writers who have their own worlds.
For example, I attended the 2014 Business of Writing Summit in Louisville, Kentucky. I learned about marketing self-published books, how important having an internet presence is, and how social media can assist an author compete in the globalized writing/publishing industry. Some of the information, for instance the necessity of having a book cover that can stand out among the thousands of other book covers on the real and virtual shelves, made sense. The price of getting a competitive cover, however, is another matter. It can be very expensive.
Like all home businesses, self-publishing requires financial investment as well as investments of time, energy, and talent. Sometimes we’re talking a big investment. And, like all home businesses, the investment may not pay off. Writers must choose their experts carefully too. Illustrators, for instance, like all workers, deserve their hire. But make sure you get what you pay for. You’ll need to know up front what the expectations are (how long will it take, what happens if you don’t like the work, when is payment due?), and that means a contract. Should you get a lawyer?
Oh, good Lord, if it’s that complicated, maybe an agent IS the way to go.
And what about all those book fairs? Are they worth the time, money, inventory, and travel you have to spend? Certainly the one at the Stanford Library here in my town was a great experience for me. I learned much from that too, and even wrote an article about it entitled Observations At A Book Fair: Men Spend Money Too. The article was in the goodie bag of all the attendees at the Summit.
What about a writer’s group? Are they any fun? Does belonging to a group improve your writing? One of the best sessions I attended at the summit addressed those issues. Debonaire Kovacs, a local Kentucky writer, pointed out that writer’s groups are fabulous or a grind depending on who shows, who participates, and if everyone’s on the same page at the same level. Some writers like talking about writing more than writing, and many time groups start off well and then degenerate into ego wars or simply wilt away.
I liked her level-headed approach. As with many things in life, the answer to even the simplest questions is it depends. Maybe. Sometimes. Life is contingent on many aspects of the universe. But, with writer’s groups, we can always change groups, change ourselves, or go home. When I’m able, I attend the Berea’s Writer’s Circle in Berea, Kentucky. (I say able because I had a nasty fall in February—I’d rather it happened in October so I could say I had a fall in Fall, but…) It’s a new group, it’s still emerging, shaping its niche, but it’s relaxed and friendly and not too literary. (To label what I do, I use the term “griterary” , a combination of down-to-earth, adult language —meaning complex, not necessarily sex-filled— and complicated story lines delivered with journalistic brevity.) I’m hoping some of the writer’s from Berea will share on this blog too.
I’d love an Other World to be peopled by others too.