In the whirlwind approaching a novel launch, there are so many things to keep track of at once. For An Uncollected Death, there was the final edit, formatting for Kindle, and formatting for Create Space, then creating a Facebook page and an author profile on Goodreads, announcing the publication on Google+ and Twitter, writing posts on the blogs, emailing people that might find the book and/or fact I published a novel interesting, and, possibly the most difficult of all, finding the guts to approach other writers for a blurb.
My biggest advantage, I think, was from the past couple of years reading and commenting on writing blogs and online communities that are truly of interest to me. I have found that it’s the best way to find “your people,” the ones whose language or word choice speaks to the way your own brain works, enabling you to utilize the information they share in a way that just plain feels right. Others might have the same, or even better information, but unless it lights up that bulb inside your skull, it isn’t really actionable, or sustainable.
The bonus comes when others in those communities also recognize you as one of “their people,” because what you have to say and/or the way you say it works for them as well as theirs works for you. The cool thing is that you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room, or the pithiest, for this dynamic to take place. Just show up and throw in your two cents’ worth once in a while. If the topic turns to something you know a lot about, sharing what info you have or a reasoned opinion supports the group as a whole, and most of the time makes you feel supported, too. It makes the big, vague Internet a warmer, friendlier place.
Anne R. Allen’s recent post on this very topic, Are You Ignoring This Simple Platform-Building Tool? lays it out clearly, and it has been re-posted, tweeted, and shared nearly everywhere by others in the community in and around her blog. Her post is of additional interest to me because she mentions this blog and its blogroll, complete with a link. Because her post has disseminated so widely, it means my little old blog has, too, and by extension an awareness of my writing.
Elizabeth Spann Craig not only has a helpful blog, but provides a Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine for links to articles and posts on just about every topic of interest to developing as a writer. She adds to it by way of her weekly tweets of things she’s read or retweeted. Once again, this blog, or at least my post, Learning to be a Novelist, has gone out into the world after she retweeted it and it went into the Writer’s Knowledge Base.
I’m no shining star on either author’s blog or online community, just another one of the many writers who follow them and leave a comment here and there, and who have also benefited from their participation. Participating helps to build up confidence, I think. I know I needed a lot of confidence to approach several writers and ask for blurbs for my book. Of the five authors I approached, one said no outright, one was inundated with work, one was “too slow” and inundated with crises, and the other two said yes. Every single one was gracious, supportive and helpful in other valuable ways, and the one inundated with work surprised me with a blurb and review after all. I’ve participated in enough blogs and forums to know if I belong or not, and facing rejection just isn’t a big deal anymore, as a result. I know I needed that toughening up first, or I wouldn’t have dared approached anyone else for a blurb. Those blurbs are critical for a newbie novelist.
Maybe writers don’t ignore commenting on others’ posts as a platform-building tool so much as they either haven’t found the right community or haven’t found the nerve to chime in with a comment. But if you want your work to be read, you have to be willing to have your comments read, too. You never know–it might be the start of a beautiful friendship.