Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mythbusting, The Writer's Edition

Before I even learned to write, I was a storyteller. As soon as I learned to write, I turned that in to a dream of wanting to be a writer. I'm probably going to date myself here, but I wanted to be the next Judy Blume or Lurlene McDaniel or even SE Hinton.

There are a lot of myths associated with being a writer, things that well-meaning people tell you. People think they know what it means to be a writer, but if you aren't one, you may not know the truth. I'm here to tell it to you. Here they are, in no particular order, the myths and the truth about being a writer.

1) Writing a good book is enough.
Sadly, this is not the case. It's certainly the first step, but it doesn't guarantee that your book will be published or that it will sell well if it is published.

2) Only self-published writers need to worry about book promotion.
Nope this is not the case. Many publishers require prospective authors to submit a marketing plan along with their manuscript. Even big name publishers won't invest much, if any, in their lesser known authors. They save their budget for the big boys and girls with a proven track record for stellar sales.

3) You're going to be a best selling author.
Believe it or not, this is harder than it sounds. Again, writing a good book is only the beginning. You have to find a way to get that good book into the hands of your readers. It's rare for most authors to be best sellers with their debut novel. It usually takes time for us to build a following.

4) You're going to be famous.
Some writers are but not all of us will. I've been writing for thirteen years, and I have yet to be recognized by an adoring member of the public. I have had readers reach out to me and express their excitement when I actually respond, and that still floors me. Those few incidents aside, I have yet to be out shopping and be recognized for being a writer.

5) You're going to have a ton of fans.
That's true for some of us, but it's not common. It also depends on the genre of your book. Authors who write in the more popular genres seem to have an easier time amassing fans. For the rest of us, we're more likely to have a small contingency of loyal fans who snap up everything we write and then post glowing reviews online. I love those people. They are the reason I keep writing even when I feel discouraged.

6) Having a widespread social media presence will increase your book sales.
It's not working for me. Now, I'll be honest, I don't take advantage of every social media forum. The truth is I just don't have the time. I currently have a Facebook page, a Twitter and Instagram account and a blog and a website, all of which I try to regularly update. My book sales don't change. No clue why. Maybe my social media posts aren't that interesting.

7) If readers like your book, they will write an Amazon review.
Your die hard fans will do this for you because they love you and they know how much this means to you. A majority of readers will not. They think buying the book and liking it is enough, but here's the thing. Book reviews are warm fuzzies, and if you don't post those reviews then I don't have any way of knowing how much you liked my book.

8) You should write a blog.
I've been blogging for a few years now. A fellow author strongly encouraged me to do it as a way to connect with my readers. I'm sure a few people are reading it, but it's rare that people comment on my blog posts or share my blog on their social media.

9) You should tweet incessantly about your book to generate more interest and sales.
You can, but it's probably not going to do any good. I don't know about you, but I follow a lot of people on Twitter. It doesn't take much for my twitter page to fill up and for tweets to bury one another. I'd have to tweet all day, every day to make a difference. Even then, would it work? Would you be more likely to buy my book because I tweeted about it?

10) Giveaways are a good way to generate interest in your books.
No, they're a good way to generate interest in free stuff. People will happily like, share, retweet or whatever you ask for a chance to win that gift card or coffee mug. That doesn't mean they are going to be so moved by your generosity that they buy your books.

11) Your books are good enough to be made into movies or a TV series.
They might be. This happens to a lot of books. It also happens a lot less than you'd think considering the sheer number of books that are published every year.

12) If your book is good, you could be part of Oprah's book club.
I'm not sure if Oprah still has a book club, but she did when I started out. I can't tell you how many times I heard friends and family tell me I needed to get on Oprah's book club. Sounds good. When you figure out how I can do that, you let me know.

It occurs to me, I could probably go on and on, but I think that's enough for now. Don't get me wrong. I love being a writer, and I'm happy with it. I just wish someone would have busted some of these myths for me before I started down this career path. It might have been less of a shock, but it wouldn't have stopped me from trying.