I recently read a blog post that completely changed my approach to my work. The author focused on gender, and how female writers can be reluctant to form a brand and promote their books. She went on to say that when men begin to write, they’re far more likely to call themselves an author instead of an aspiring author. They’ll develop a business plan, buy business cards, hire a PR person, and generally plan for success.
I don’t know whether or not gender defines this drive as much as a writer’s personal tendencies, but I’ll definitely raise my hand in the air and say even after writing my book for years, I NEVER talked about it. I never told anyone I was an aspiring author, never mind an author, full-stop. In fact, it wasn’t until my work was validated by an accomplished fellow writer that I began to come out of my shell.
Old Souls is close to being finished. So close I can taste it. Once completed, I’ll submit the book to agents for a period hovering around a couple of months. And, if no one bites, I’m going to publish the damn thing myself. The stigma behind self-published books is ebbing. We now live in the age of Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, and Amanda Hocking. But, when an author takes on the task of publishing their work themselves, they must begin to look at their book(s) as a business.
In today’s changing market, no longer are authors merely responsible for writing, we are responsible for tweeting, blogging, facebooking, advertising, and endless-self promotions.
Today, the person who shouts the loudest often gets the prize. This is the age of swagger, my friends. It’s the age of the author brand. So, it’s time to tweet, blog, Facebook, and promote. Does it matter if your book is not yet published? Movie trailers can be released years before the actual movie comes out. No one cares. No one says, isn’t that cute, Stephen Spielberg thinks he might make another movie. He just does it.
Think of the most powerful brands you know. Off the top of my head, I think of Coke, Johnson & Johnson, Crest, and Bounty. Coke was at the top of my list. This is a soft drink that can clean the un-cleanable gunk off of pennies. It’s a product that causes diabetes in children. And yet, many authors are afraid to build a brand out of their name, for their book, which they actually believe in?!
A fear of failure, of “looking bad” and making mistakes, is probably the number one reason so many authors fail in today’s market. But, as Kristen said in the blog linked above, “If you don’t make mistakes you probably aren’t doing anything interesting.” Mistakes are how we learn. A friend of mine messaged me the other day in CAPS to tell me to fix a glaring error on my blog, and my critique group is currently tearing my last submission to smithereens. These things would have horrified me a few months ago, but today, I’m taking it in stride. Because I am an author.
I wake up early in the morning to write. I spend at least an hour on social media every day building my brand. I take time out of my schedule to offer critiques to my partners, hoping they will take time out of their schedules to return the favor. Because, I am an author. I’ve spent a huge portion of my life in the hospitality industry, and mucked up more orders than I care to admit, but I still called myself a waitress. The time has come to talk about it. If you’re an
aspiring author, own it. At first, you may cringe as the words tumble awkwardly from your mouth, but that’s okay. The first time a butterfly takes flight, their wing-strokes aren’t perfect, either.
In today’s market, you can’t afford to do things halfway. Write your book. Tell people it’s awesome. If you look back on your novel one day and realize it was awful, you will still have climbed the mountain of writing it, and that’s pretty awesome.