Friday, March 1, 2013

Get out! Get out!

by Sam Thomas

Most writers are pretty insecure about their craft. The insecurity is born of experience: we have seen our work rejected many more times than its been embraced, whether by agents or publishers. We are regularly tell ourselves (or are told by agents or editors) that our work is not good enough. We also tend to keep to ourselves – writing is self-expression for introverts. We did not start bands, take up stand-up comedy, or spend our evenings at poetry slams. We shut ourselves off from the world and wrote.

Fine and dandy, except that with the decline of marketing budgets and the virtual disappearance of literary taste-makers (except the one whose name starts with “O”), the whole J.D. Salinger approach to publicity is not going to fly. Want to get our books out there? It’s up to us. The problem, of course, is that we are insecure and introverted.

My goal here is to encourage new writers to get out there and meet people. Offer to present at local libraries, visit with book clubs, talk to whomever will listen!

If you do, you’ll discover some pretty awesome things. First, it’s a ton of fun. You are already passionate about your work, or else you wouldn’t have taken the trouble to write a book. That passion will come through. And remember that (unless you’ve set up a kiosk on a street corner), the people who come to see you are already interested in your work, or else they’d be somewhere else. You don’t have to convince them of anything. If you are polite and honest, people will walk away happy.

The other thing to keep in mind is that while you may not think it’s a big deal getting published, and you recognize that it’s a real grind, but others are much more excited. And while it’s pretty clear to you that you’ve been very lucky (at least that’s the case for me), that doesn’t mean you don’t have a good story to tell. People like to hear about the writing and publishing process first hand. The process might grind you down, but talking with readers and prospective readers will build you up!

So get out there!