Warning, Will Robertson! Beware Charges of Heresy!
I spend a considerable part of my day keeping up with news in the world of books, mostly because I write, so that makes sense.
Today’s topic just happens to focus on building the author platform—something discussed at length by a media guru HERE (more 5 reasons, 5 being some kind of magical number, perchance?).
The keywords for today are COMMUNICATION and TRUST. This allows the author to “connect” with readers, to create “experiences” with readers in order to establish a mutual foundation that loosens purses and allows/encourages validation for one’s creative efforts.
See what I did there? I allowed snark with a side of snide to creep into my virtual “tone of voice.” Deliberately, I might add, for I have serious questions about the thrust of this new marketing worldview that insists we writers become transparent to the world of
1. First off, let’s look at why I write—not why all writers write, because for every writer it is a unique experience. Take a look at yesterday’s POST if you want the skinny on the why, but it boils down to this… I write because the characters in my head have a story to tell. That means it’s not my story, it’s not your story, it’s their story. I transcribe it as best I can given the tools at my fingertips and whatever “gifts” I can bring to the table.
This is a very personal, oft times gut-wrenching and draining experience. It tends to bare the soul, to dig into secrets and lies and masquerades of the inner self, independent of the fact the story belongs to those characters (the downfall, perhaps, of intensely character-driven tales) and not necessarily my own. However, the transcriber does not exist in a vacuum. We cannot but be affected by the words pouring from our fingertips in a tidal wave of emotion and angst, joy and sorrow, despair and elation.
The fact I am affected by those words, the fact that I influence how that story is told, does not mean that the process need be open to the public. My suffering, my choices are my own and no one else’s. It is a compact I own between me and my characters, and no one else.
2. Secondly, insisting that having some kind of relationship between author and
consumer reader is the only way to create a meaningful reading experience is, in a word, bollocks. Exactly what is that supposed to mean? You can’t read my book unless, or because, we’ve established some psychic or virtual “connection” first?
How did the story become tangential to the process of writing?
Why have we removed the story to second class citizenship, reducing it to the category of widget, party favor, house-warming or hostess gift? How did it become an afterthought of a carefully constructed house of cards built entirely around the CULT OF CELEBRITY?
3. Last but not least (way cooler to say than thirdly), a Goodreads survey indicates that all the common must-haves in the author platform bag of tricks, including FaceBook, Twitter and Blogs, are spectacularly ineffective. Say what? And these are exactly the tools needed to establish that authentic relationship.
Can you say “mixed messages”?
What does grab readers is word-of-mouth, and yepper that one does rely on relationships between: co-workers, friends (real ones, you know, the kind who meet for lunch or phone each other to have, like, real conversations), church group ladies club members, the person sitting next to you on the bus, subway, cafe counter. Not you and me, the author, but you and bunches of other folks with whom you do have a real relationship.
But not you and me.
That word-of-mouth starts with…
Wait for it…
The BOOK is the single most neglected “thing” in this equation when authors are savaged by the so-called new reality.
Media is #2 ( hellooo Oprah!) and bookstores rank high also. I’ll ignore Goodreads since this is their survey, answered by their members. It probably has influence, but it’s one established between readers, not readers and authors (in a hell no, you really don’t want to go there way).
The term “added value” pops up here also. It’s used in reference to blogs. As an author/blogger (not necessarily one and the same—there are indeed professional bloggers who do not … um, “author”), you are expected to entertain, to find and
pander deliver appropriate and valuable content, to brighten lives, cure ennui and in all ways, shapes and forms become the go-to person for the last word on XYZ.
And write the next book. Yeah, about that…
Hope y’all don’t mind, but I have a date: with Jace and Nick, with Jackie and Zack, and very soon with Monty and Ben. I post their stories here and elsewhere for free before going commercial. It’s not “added value”, it’s just their stories.
Because I’m a writer.