In an oft-used distinction, a writer writes and an author has written. The writer creates and the author’s job is to secure readers. I like the writing part WAY better, which is almost universally true of authors. In an ideal world, our books would suddenly materialize in the hands of our ideal audience, who wouldn’t find a single thing wrong with them and be willing to throw lavish
amounts of money and praise our way. (Yes, that’s the stuff dreams are made of, which is our specialty, and thus should come as no surprise.)
I admit to having felt overwhelmed by the many different things a self-published author must to do garner a readership. Even traditionally published authors find themselves having to do much of their own outreach and marketing these days if they don’t want to simply disappear after their brief blip on the magic Reader Radar.
Because the intent is different, writing things like blogs, blurbs, and bios requires a shift from one’s fiction-writing mode, a shift that can be both physically and psychologically uncomfortable. Some authors have less difficulty with this than others, but there seems to be a consensus that the more help you get with marketing and outreach, the better. You don’t need to be a prolific NYT best-selling author to benefit from an assistant, one who can keep track of the various elements of marketing and prime the pump when non-fiction is required.
At this point in time, my blog is morphing into an author’s platform, rather than sitting out there all by its lonesome. I’ve made half-hearted attempts at this in the past, only to find it all a bit much. The truth is that I wasn’t ready–I didn’t have enough books, my fictional world hadn’t taken on enough dimensions, and while I’ve written millions of words in my lifetime, they weren’t a million words of one single fictional voice. A million words is like the proverbial 10,000 hours of practice. But now it’s happened. And I have an assistant, too.
Between the two published Charlotte Anthony mysteries and the one I’m currently writing, I’ve surpassed the million-word mark. At least half of what I write doesn’t make it into the published versions, but that doesn’t mean the writing, the world-building, the rationales, and all the various possibilities haven’t been worked out in my head and then typed out with my fingers. They are not me, but they are certainly now part of me, the way a repertoire becomes part of an experienced musician.
This means less of a disconnect between being a writer and being an author. It’s easier to talk and write about Charlotte and her world in a matter-of-fact way, without either cringing or false bravado. And thus it is easier to tackle the next thing on the marketing and outreach list that my assistant–a.k.a. my husband, Steve–has drawn up.
Bit by bit I will begin and grow the series bible, create a map of Elm Grove and its environs, continue to blog about the writing process and the development of the series, and reach out to others on various social media. I’m comfortable with some approaches and less with others, but I have also noticed that once I’m comfortable with one set of arrangements, I find it easier to wrap my mind around new ones.
Nonetheless, job number one will always be writing the novels themselves, without which there is nothing to talk about!