My Teachers & Good Reads
This is the last day to get my writer’s manual Your Words, Your Story free on Kindle. It’s still #1 in creativity, so that feels good. This past week, I have felt more like a marketing newbie more than a seasoned writer with a stack of clips behind her. As I watching my book’s rating ebb and flow, I thought of my teachers. And I found one marketing game that feels way more like fun than work.
I took a creative writing class in college. We mostly wrote bad poetry to which the professor gave effusive praise. That was 30+ years ago, and if I did learn anything about writing, I don’t remember what it is, except that it feels good to be in the presence of other writers, talking about writing. My real first writing teacher probably didn’t realize I would so zealously follow her instructions. She was an assistant to an editor at Harlequin. She sent back my manuscript with two comments. The first was “you need to learn craft” and the second “your query was much better written than your novel.”
At the time, these words stung. I had just taken a year’s leave from teaching writing (talk about irony) and I have always loved to learn so I took her words to heart. It just so happened that a new to me writer was giving an intensive week long seminar in fiction writing down in Ohio, not too long of a drive from Michigan. Jenny Crusie’s main instruction to me was “needs conflict.” She also told us about conflict and character and plot. I took a few more classes from Crusie, some in person in Ohio and then later online in a group she’d formed to help writers.
I also took other courses, attended conferences, and read books on creative writing. I did this for five years, always trying to improve the new book (I wrote 4 books in 5 years). Then my husband asked me if I was ever going back to work. With a gloomy economy, looming retirement, and not one sale, I said yes. I returned to teaching on my own terms, choosing the local community college who needed a new creative writing instructor over the more lucrative university that only wanted me to teach kids to write college essays.
Those first creative writing classes were my first drafts of the book I am now giving away for one more day on Amazon. I got to hold that first book in my hands, see it on bookstore shelves, use it in my classroom. I had arrived. I was an indie writer. This was my solution to the non-interest of publishers and agents. I’ll sell my books myself.
That’s such an easy thing to say, but it’s really hard to do. I write. Mainly, that’s what I like to do. Just write. But an indie author has to be a cover artist and editor and PR person and someone who can format with code. They need a platform. Website, Facebook page, Twitter user, and also, someone just told me, use Good Reads.
I just started on Good Reads but I love it. Twitter is great too except really it’s not a marketing tool as it is a way to hang with other writers. And Facebook, I keep that for my friends and not put too much writing stuff on there because most of my friends and family are not writers, although the guy I hired to paint my kitchen has a great idea of a fantasy novel. I gave him a copy of my book.
I like giving books away, it turns out. A Writer’s Diary was here from the start and that’s due to my wonderful son, who like me is a writer. I write novels. Mike writers code. He suggested one day 10 years ago I should start a blog “I’ll do everything else, you just write the posts.” I said, “isn’t blogging sort of going away?” he said “nope.” Ha. He was right but I bet he wishes now he was wrong, because he’s still handling everything on this website not directly related to writing posts. Oh, except I found the little bluebird of happiness & the FB like banner. I had to email him “See what I did?” I was so proud. He said “How did you know…” I said, “I just kept clicking things until something worked.”
That’s all life is, really. Trying this and that, seeing what works. I think Good Reads is going to work for me. Maybe not as a writer, but as a reader who is having a great time filling my virtual bookshelves. And did I say this is the last day my book is free on Kindle? (There is just a little bit of a hawker of wares in me now. I should go back to normal tomorrow.)