Monday, June 13, 2011

Relationships: Part 1

"No man is an island," said John Donne.

No woman is either.

I spent the weekend in Austin at a writer's conference. Yes, there were workshops on e-publishing, self-publishing, tradiditional publishing, on how to craft the perfect pitch, query, synopsis...but more than ever, the emphasis was on crafting relationships.

We think of writing as a solitary professions, of writers as hermits, holed up in their studies with only a computer for company. Not so much, say the experts. Long gone are the days when Thoreau could sit at Walden Pond and think of nothing but nature and writing.

This post will deal with the relationship aspect of writing; tomorrow I want to apply what I learned to widowhood. This is a widow's blog, after all.

For writers, most speakers stressed the importance of social media to a writer's success. It's crucial to be accessible. When I wrote romance, I used to get fan mail every now and then. It takes time for a reader to sit down, write a letter, find an address and put the letter in the mail. Now, in 30 seconds a reader can send off an e-mail, comment on a blog, like a page on Facebook or tweet directly to an author. You the writer can post your news, pub date, upcoming releases, even pictures of the dog that inspired a character in your latest novel.

Relationships extend to agents, editors, publishers, publicists, book store owners, media outlets...I guess, the world. Yes, writers, the world is at your fingertips.

In many ways this is quite wonderful; in others, scary. We are never alone, never far from public scrutiny. If you don't want it on YouTube, don't do it. Don't even think it.

The most important thing I took away from all this was that relationships are not to be abused. They're two-way. If you think of your relationships as only something to use for your own benefit, you're missing the message. Like all good friendships, they are as much about giving as getting. If you let readers in on your world, make sure you're as honest with these people you can't see as you are with your best friend. Make sure you are respectful of people who take the time to reach out to you.

The guy who was sitting next to me at a workshop, gestured toward the panel of agents who were set to speak. "They think we're the enemy," he remarked. I disagreed. I don't think he got it. In this world, there are no enemies. We're all allies and must treat one another as such.

And how to I apply this to widowhood? Stop back tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


Kelly Garriott Waite said... [Reply to comment]

Nice post! I find that the social marketing is a crucial part of writing and it's not my strong point. But, if you're not willing to get out there and push your work, no one else will.

Bella said... [Reply to comment]

Indeed, Thelma, times have changed and the stereotypical brooding author is no more. Like Kelly pointed out, an author now has to promote his/her work. And like you very aptly pointed out, readers now have technology at their fingerprints that in turn allows them to like or dislike an author's work with the click of a button. Integrity is crucial for the author-reader relationship. I look forward to the continuation of this post!


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