I have been wanting to have one of my books on my website in a free PDF format for a long time. I have published ten books and some of them are still under contract with my publisher. That’s fine, I have a a few self-published books and they are mine to use as I see fit. I decided since this site is all about writing, the logical choice is my first book, which is a creative writing memoir and manual.
In this book I was trying to do something that would help my creative writing students, who wanted to write all sorts of things: song lyrics and scriptwriting were the two most popular The way I structured my creative writing classes, my prime goal was to have everyone write a completed project, something that they could publish. And I wanted it to be of their own choice, whatever form. There was no book for that, so I wrote it.
I have no evidence of this, but I believe many writers search around a bit before they find their chosen form. I started with song lyrics and poetry, went on to short stories, dabbled in book reviewing, blogged my heart out and tried again and again to write a novel. So I had some experience in many of my students’ chosen forms. Not scriptwriting, but I had read screenwriting books by Linda Seger because they work for novelists too. I still dip into Seger’s Making a Good Character Great when I need inspiration.
Another thing that helped me teach creative writing was the number of workshops and conferences I’d been to, not to mention all the books I’d read on how to write. There’s a list of the best of those how-to books at the end of the book. The reason I say it’s a “memoir/manual” is because I wove my own writing experiences and some of my writing to use as examples through the book. I covered a lot of ground.
Just last weekend, I was at a conference and mentioned I was putting my writing manual permanently free on my website. She said “That’s the book I need” so I gave her a card. I hope for some of you, this might be the book you need, too. You can find a link to the PDF on the first page and on the book page, too.
I just returned from a writer’s conference and the news is not good. Writers, say the workshop leaders, will not make much money. They need to keep their day jobs. Another item in the negative column is this: writers must do their own promotion. This means we need to learn how to market our work if we want anyone but our mother to read it.
These are two things I already knew. I have been writing for a long time and I’ve witnessed the landscape change. I remember one long-ago workshop leader saying that the culture rewards writers in some incredible ways. Well, those days are gone. Everyone now has the opportunity to publish their writing. The variety of ways to do this would take a weekend workshop. I’d attend that one, because I suck at marketing.
I have often moaned on this very blog that I’m a writer, damn it, and I just wanna write. Well, if the conference this weekend did nothing else for me, it made me realize that I have to stop thinking that way. I can hire someone to market for me, or I can do it myself. But do it I must. Because I do want more than just my mother (who is scandalized by the sexy bits) to read my work. And I would like to make money. Readers=money.
My publisher did a little marketing thing with Amazon Kindle’s “free” days for me a month or so back. I tried to help by hiring Book Bub to advertise my “free” book, plus tweeting and writing Facebook posts. Hell, I took my business card to lunch and passed it out to ten women I hardly knew, saying “hey it’s free!” People love free.
I looked at my numbers after that. I gave away 45,000 books. I also made it to #1 on the top Amazon lists. All books. All romance novels. All contemporary novels. I was #1 on the free list for all of those. And I stayed on the paid lists for a while. I made some money, which is what marketing is all about. Selling books, making profit. The month I partnered with my publisher to market this way, I made more money than I had in any quarter at any time with any of my five books.
I know I’d still write if I didn’t get paid. I might write and decide not to market. I write, not just for money, (although money is nice) but because it helps me make sense of both myself and the world spinning around me. I feel lucky to have this thing in me that needs to write, no matter what. It has enriched my life in ways too numerous to mention. And that is the real worth to this writer.