Recently, the world heard of the sad news that author Iain Banks has only months to live and this piece by author Val McDermid actually brought tears to my eyes. It wasn’t all that long ago that one of Australia’s favourite authors, Bryce Courtenay, died of cancer. It not only got me thinking on how short life really is, but also about the legacy we leave behind.
For writers our legacy is our writing; our books. Our stories can move people, get people talking, feel the need to read more of what we have to say, and perhaps even inspire them to tell their own stories. If we’re really lucky our stories will live on in film and on stage and even be talked about for generations to come. In a world where time is a valuable commodity; people are reading more than ever before. We may pass through this life only once, yet if done well, our stories can last a lifetime.
As I read some tweets written regarding Iain Banks, there was one other thing that struck me as part of a writer’s legacy and that was admiration by his fans. It wasn’t just his work they will always remember, but also actually meeting him. They considered themselves fortunate to have met their favourite author. Having had this social interaction will ensure his fans will remain with him long after he’s gone.
Interacting with our readers helps bring the author-reader relationship even closer. People remember those who are friendly and helpful towards others. It is believed that the way books sell more than any other is through word of mouth. Kristen Lamb fairly recently posted about the importance of writers building a rapport and community with their readers. In this selfish world, it is the little things such as common courtesy and politeness that people are remembered for. If we combine our efforts with producing good books, we can guarantee ourselves a loyal readership.
What do you hope will be your legacy? Are you making the most of your time? What steps are you taking towards building your community?
There has been a fair amount of discussion lately regarding blogging. I’ve been reading some of Kristen Lamb’s posts, including this one and through that post, I bought her book. She believes that for fiction writers, our blogs should be based ‘on topic’ in order to gather our readers. I understand this reasoning and it does make sense, yet I’m not too sure what to make of this. I wonder if you write too much ‘on topic’ that it would eventually alienate readers, when after all, readers these days like to find out more about their favourite authors as a person.
Maybe because I am a writer, I like to learn how other authors deal with the writing process, rejections, etc. Making friends with other writers would be in my own best interests, not only helping out in the writing process, but they would be my first port of call as readers. If they thought my writing was good enough, this may then help spread the word about my books/work and therefore encourage my future (non-writing) readers. I know I’d do the same for them. As luck would have it, I read this post by fellow blogger, Molly Green, and was relieved to find that I was not the only one feeling this way lately.
Adding further to my blogging dilemmas, I had been reading this post by Meghan Ward regarding the expectations some agents have on the number of hits an author’s site should receive. It is from reading such numbers as these, that one begins to feel a bit like Linda Blair in her head-spinning scene in the Exorcist! Her post, along with this one from Jami Gold helps put blogging into perspective. As someone pointed out in the comments, marketing should not be confused with platform. In the end, I went back to a good old reliable source book, something tried and true – Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz. This quote was the one that brought it all home for me:-
My opinion is that you should put the lion’s share of your energy into the work you do that earns you money and keep your blog growing slowly and steadily on the side.
So now, I’m not going to stress too much about blogging anymore. I believe the best way to go is to find some sort of balance between being ‘on topic’ and what is happening with my writing. I have seen published authors blog this way and it doesn’t seem to be doing them any harm. I’ve been blogging for a little while now and I think it’s a case of blog whatever you feel comfortable with. And by the way, if you don’t already have a copy of Christina’s book, I heartily recommend it.
Still on topic, but on a more happier note, many thanks this week to Jen at Jen’s Bookshelf for giving me the 7×7 Link Award. Yes, my blog has been given another award! 🙂
Now for this award I need to list what I regard as some of my best within these categories:-
Most Beautiful: This Spring I started putting up some photos for my Photo Friday posts, and this one Photo Friday – Rainforests seemed to have become the most popular, judging by the comments.
Most Helpful: Once again, judging by the comments, Conquer Your Fears seemed to create a healthy discussion. It’s good to know that as writers we’re not alone.
Most Popular: My first entry in the Writer’s Platform Building Campaign, My Sweet Imago – 2nd Campaigner Challenge not only generated some votes, but some wonderful comments. To know that I had captivated my readers, and that they found it ‘entrancing’, ‘evil’, ‘vindictive’, ‘creepy’ and ‘disturbing’ makes me one happy camper!
Most Controversial: Well, I have to admit that this one Controversial Issues in YA Novels is the closest thing to a controversial post that I’ve written (at least that I know of).
Most Successful: I would have to say that my post on the Writer’s Platform Building Campaign I regard as my most successful, only because by participating in this campaign, I have had more people visit my blog, comment and subscribe than ever before. I have also met and made friends with some wonderful people I would never had done so otherwise.
Most Underrated: My post on The Business Side of Writing was created out of sheer frustration by a local business taking many months to fix our washing machine. I decided to apply simple strategies on how to provide a top quality customer service when it comes to writing.
Most Prideworthy: To know that people do actually read my blog and appreciate what I have to say earned me My Very First Writing Award not once, but three times. Thank you so much Elizabeth Anne, Lesann and Kerri – your kind thoughts, along with Jen for this award, has given me the incentive to stay within the blogosphere.
For the past few months, my husband and I have had to deal with such a shoddy business, we wonder how they have remained in business for so long. I won’t bore you with the details, but it made me think of the business side of writing. I have read that writing should be treated like a business, rather than trying to win the lottery. Treat writing more seriously, and you will be taken seriously.
This is what I have learnt about being in business, staying in business and how it can be applied to writing:-
Treat your customers with the respect they deserve; without them, you have no business. It comes in handy before you start writing to know who your customers are and what they’re interested in. You then know who and what to aim for. You’ll understand their needs and will be placed in a better position on how best to serve them.
Be polite to your customers and keep them informed with what is happening. Keep customers informed by websites, blogs and social networks and make sure they are updated regularly. Do not let the customer have to chase you. Present yourself in a friendly, helpful manner – this will help endear you to your readers. By taking a blase attitude of ‘if you don’t like it, go somewhere else’, then chances are your readers will.
You are there to supply a service – customers expect it of you to provide that service. There is no point in providing a service that you yourself are not interested in, nor can you possibly remain in business if you do not do your job properly, or even at all. Nobody; readers and editors alike will want to bother with you.
Do not make promises you can not keep. If you have trouble with something, it’s easier to be honest about it, rather than letting editors wonder what is going on or leaving your readers wonder when your next book is coming out. If you can’t do something or deliver on time, say so and stop wasting people’s time.
By providing a top quality customer service, you’ll ensure an honest working relationship with editors and a loyal following with your readers.