Marketing for Introverts & Other People

print.booksAre you an introvert? Many writers are. I know I am. Therefore I’ve made a list of easy things shy writers can do to help sell their work. As I said in yesterday’s post, if  you publish, you need to market as well. So here’s what you can do to improve your visibility as a writer:

1. Join a writer’s group. I did. It’s easy. Go to meetings and listen. I became a member of Detroit Working Writers several years ago and the organization continues to inspire me. DWW started with a dozen women in 1900. We’re still going strong. You don’t have to be published to join.

2. Go to a conference. The workshop leaders and keynote speaker do almost all of the talking. They bring you news from the world of publishing. DWW’s annual conference this year is May 17, 2014 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library. You can sign up early and get a discount.

3. Enter a writing competition. At our conference, we conclude by announcing the winners of our writing competition. First prize in all five categories is $100, so check it out. You do not have to attend the conference to enter the writing competition, but it would be fun, right?

4. Start a blog and begin to build your platform. If you don’t know what a platform is, you can ask anybody in DWW. Seasoned writers are available to mentor beginners. And blogging, heck, you do this alone in your writing room. What could be easier? I love Word Press but Blogger is also user-friendly.

If you do these four things for your writing self, you will succeed. When I joined DWW several years ago, I had self-published one book, a non-fiction writer’s manual. Since becoming a member of DWW and joining in some of the many networking and critique groups they offer, I’ve published four novels. Proof, to me at least, of the value of stepping out of the shy box.


January Deadlines

It’s January 1st, but I feel none of the optimism I’d been expecting. Probably because taking down Christmas is so much more depressing that putting it up. Also, I hosted a dinner party last night, and one on Saturday night, too. It has been go, go, go and I am very happy to settle back down to writing. I’m also really tired. Too much rich food, too little exercise.

I have three deadlines this month: a chapter I must send today for my critique group, a revision of Blue Heaven by the end of the month, and a post on the 3rd for a blog thingy, I am not sure how it works or what it is called, I only know that I need to post something about a book I consider a personal classic. There are all kinds of prizes and things. And links hither and yon. I’ve not done much partying in the blog world, so I am a little lost. It’s only when I remember I simply have to WRITE that I calm down. I have produced hundreds of pieces of non-fiction on the subject of fiction. I will be fine.

The critique depends on how much of a mess the manuscript is…hoping for a bit of tidying up a scene or two and then a nap. I also promised the editor at my publishing house a substantial re-write of the manuscript by the end of the month. What was I thinking?? I had mistakenly believed I’d be able to work on the revision during the holidays. No. Revision, specific editorial revisions, take chunks of time, daily attention. I’m happy to get back to it, but also feeling pressure too!

Inspiration at the Conference

The conference is over, and I am finally feeling like myself again. In that 12 hour day, almost everything flowed perfectly (Still need to hunt down the person who stole a turkey  sub, leaving a lone veggie wrap on the food table.) When I thought about how my day would be, I imagined running here and there, putting out fires, but nope. All was calm and all the workshop leaders and volunteers delivered.

President Diana Dinverno kept the show rolling smoothly. Elizabeth Buzzelli, keynote speaker, was a huge hit. Her workshop was standing room only. I’ve heard nothing but good things about all of our workshops, the food, the library, and the gift bags.

My gift bag included a little sticker that said “inspire” and I hope that’s what the conference did for everyone. I felt the energy and was inspired! Today I finished a revision of my novel, Blue Heaven. So next, I take a day to read it through (tomorrow will be good, nothing on the calendar) and make final changes. Then polish and send to publisher.

And then on to the next book, which has already been written and revised. After sitting in a box for almost a year, I’m sure I’ll see its flaws. Still, I am inspired to revise and polish until I get every single one of my books right. That’s the magic of a conference.

Historical Dig

This morning, DWW president Diana Dinverno and I are heading out to the Detroit Public Library where the Detroit Working Writers collection is housed. I’ve never been to the DPL so this is exciting in itself. Every writer loves a library! Add to that the fact that we may be seeing some really old documents and other items (DWW was started in 1900 and has been in operation ever since) and I feel a little bit like I’m on an archeology dig.

Why are we doing this? Because September 15, 2012, DWW is holding a conference at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library (main branch) and we would like to take advantage of their display cabinets to show off our history to our newest members and the rest of our local community who don’t know us. I’m so happy even the rain can’t bring me down.

It is thundering!

There is one thing I’m not happy about: I’m not going to get the chance to do much writing for the next few days. It’s back to snatching a few morning pages here and there. My son and his wife are visiting from Seattle, my parents are moving to Florida, and Al and I are hosting the family here on Saturday. I need to vacuum and do laundry and grocery shop and make potato salad…all that stuff I usually put off because I’m writing.

There are times when it’s okay not to write. Special family times are one of them. Another is taking a day off from the keyboard to explore a library. Working on a project that will highlight a long history of authors and inspire today’s hopeful writers is a third reason. I don’t feel guilty taking time from the WIP, but I’m still going to miss it.

All About Critique Groups

Critique groups and writing groups are not the same. You may find your critique group in your writing group, but the main difference between the two is that critique groups focus on the actual manuscripts its members are writing. They give feedback and praise and suggestions for improvement. And they are vital to unpublished writers who have no agent or editor.

I’ve been in so many critique groups through the years, and while every single one of them helped me become a better writer, most of them ended in tears. The first group I belonged consisted of a dozen or so rotating folks. We did mostly poetry. Nobody ever liked my poems. Not ever. The focus with that group was always what is wrong, not what is right, what is good, what I want to see more of in your work.

Critique groups need a balance of helpful criticism diplomatically delivered after some enthusiastic praise.

After the poetry group, which I stayed in way too long for my poor ego, I formed a group of other writing teachers/writers. That group worked on prose while drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Things evolved, people dropped out, new people came in, but when the core group changed, something was lost and I couldn’t find it again. The biggest problem with this group was how many people failed to bring something to critique.

I have been in many groups where it turns out I am the only person who wrote a new chapter or new story. That just sucks for me.

I found my next group at a writer’s conference and we formed a tight bond through the Internet. We were all working on novels and we would read early drafts of complete novels. That group was ideal. Then one of us got published, another of us quit writing, and I, well, there I was, alone again.

This small group was also for awhile part of a bigger online group. So I was able to fall back on them. That group took chapters in rotation and I received 25 or so mostly excellent critiques of first chapters from them on 2 or 3 of my novels. But I felt an unease there so I stopped doing that one.

Then I joined DWW and after a year or so I was able to cobble together another group. I am the only original member of that group. One person quit to focus on writing her master’s thesis, another moved to Florida, another stopped writing her novel. Meanwhile I got email from former students who were still writing and I invited a few of them to join me. So that’s where I am now.

We meet once a month and will look at up to 30 pages. We met Saturday. It was grand. I would be happy to read full drafts of anything they write. And that’s the secret bonus of critique groups. Someone in your group will read your entire novel, especially if  you offer to read theirs, too.

I get many requests from folks (mostly former students, but sometimes people who read my blog) asking me to read their work. I used to do this more often, but now I  read only for a few people, one who has become a dear friend via the Internet and another because I was interested in the topic and could skim it.

I feel bad turning people down, but, like reviewing, if I do too much of it, I won’t have time for my own writing. If you need readers for your novel before you publish it, there are two ways to go. First, you can hire a professional editor. Second, you can ask your critique group. And that is just one of the reasons why critique groups are vital to writers.

If you are not in one, and you are unpublished, you really should look around and find a critique group, because pretty soon, if you’re persistent and lucky, you will finish that novel. And you’ll want some eyes on it before you upload it to Kindle.