What It Takes To Be A Serious Writer

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In the good old bad old days, wrongly or rightly, writers were shielded by their agents and publishers from their reading public to maintain an air of mystery, and to shield them from the more repugnant elements of society, among other things. These days since the internet became reality, it has become a necessary tool for all writers to be able to let their readers get to know them.

Even so, as a writer you need to be cautious. There are a few drawbacks. The  spread of internet trolls, armchair critics and pedants springs to mind. But, always providing the writer doesn’t engage with them, they remain where they belong, lurking in the darkest recesses of the internet fora. With the way the review system operates on a lot of book sites these days, they do their darnedest to put people off buying books written by every writer they hate. Usually their stupidity, bile and invective has the complete reverse effect. Some foolishly think that they will be able to get at any writer who maintains a blog by offering a less than civil comment. If you are a member of one of the three groups mentioned above, know that your comment will never see the light of day…

The time has long since gone when serious writers simply wrote books. Contrary to popular belief, being a writer is not only a lonely existance, but also unless you are one of the fortunate few, the amount of money we receive in royalties is minute to say the least. Any serious writer who makes £12,000 per annum, or more, is doing well. Most mid-listers make far less; new writers, practically zero.

Nowadays, we spend a lot of time either with our own webpages where we advertise our wares, or as in my case (and that of many other writers) we operate a blog like this one, contributing to it on a daily basis. Let’s face it, people are curious about us. They want to know everything about their favourite author(s). Once again there is danger involved in maintaining any form of public forum. How much do you reveal about yourselves? Short answer – think before you type. There are people out there who will think nothing of revealing your innermost secrets to the world in an attempt to turn potential readers away from your work. After all, like everyone else, we are human beings with the same character flaws, hates, foibles, desires, regrets, financial and health problems as anyone else.

Besides writing that novel, the odd short story, and maintaining a blog, we also interact on popular social media sites as well as placing links for our latest novel, novella, anthology and blog posts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc, etc. Participating in all of these activities has become an absolute necessity since the concept of publishing, and what publishers were prepared to do for their writers changed for the worse from the point of view of the writer a few years ago.

To keep our names in forefront of the reader’s mind we need to ‘self-promote’. The myth that any writer worth their salt does nothing but slave over their latest manuscript is just that – a myth. Some of us attend various book fares, book signings and conventions. Some of us don’t. I am one of the latter, owing to poor health. Besides which, until someone comes up with a way for writers like myself who write purely for the eBook market to digitally sign your copy, I won’t be doing it.

For all writers, being able to meet you when you visit our blogs, like what you’re reading, and become a follower, means everything to us all. As readers, while you might never consider reviewing something of ours on an internet book site, being able to read your comments on our blogs as well as chatting to you on Facebook also means everything to us. Plus, never forget that always providing we post on our blogs and talk to you on Facebook etc, at least you know we’re still breathing.

So, if you are thinking of becoming a serious writer, all it takes is dedication, mental strength, doggedness, and above all, you must become resigned to the fact that you will be living on an income well below what is commonly held up as the ‘poverty’ line. If you are serious about writing, be prepared for the long haul.

One other thing, if you want to know more about me, why not wade your way through the over three thousand posts I have produced to date on this blog?

Post Script

Today’s reader only thinks about one thing – getting a free copy of your book. Even when so many offer their work for a paltry $0.99 in an effort to be read, the vast majority still refuse to buy.

Now is the time to put them to shame. If we were to charge the reading public the true price of a book based on the number of hours we spend writing, editing and perfecting the manuscript, the cost would be astronomical. Most books take several months to complete.

If I charged a penny per hour for a book that took me say six months to complete for publication, the purchase price would be £43.80 per copy.

So stop whining about a book being priced at £/$0.99 or £/$2.99, when you think it should be free, and support its author! Of course you could join those who constantly tell authors they like the sound of their book(s) and will add them to their TBR list (to be read). Which of course they seldom if ever do. Personally I prefer my own approach – ignore the one, two and three star hate reviews. Or worse, the spoiler variety. First I read the book’s hook. Then I browse a few pages. If I like it I actually buy a copy. Now there’s a novelty…

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Totally Incomprehensible Acts

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There is an unwritten understanding that all self-published writers will help each other out however they can. For my part I use this blog from time to time to pass on my own experiences in this bitchy world we all inhabit – aka, the world of publishing. I also try to make people aware of other writers who also have a blog by creating a link to their posts via the medium of the reblog. From time to time I offer positive comments on their posts in support. I don’t have to do it. It’s just in my nature to want to help others…

Yesterday, through our mutual friend The Storyreading Ape, I saw another post that cried out to be reblogged to make it known to those of you who follow my blog. Because I totally agreed with its sentiments, I also left a comment. Then I received the following from the writer concerned:

“Thank you for reblogging my post. However I deleted your comment because I find it extremely offensive when people shorten my name without asking permission. My name is ………; and I clearly indicated that I go by ….. In the future, please respect a writer by using their given names unless otherwise indicated. Thank you.”

To say I was totally taken aback would be an understatement!

Because of that childish outburst, simply because I used the first part of their double barrel Christian name instead of the second part as they insisted, like you I can only assume that they are not only wholly insecure but also deeply ungrateful for my wishing to help publicize both them and their blog. Once I got over the writer’s irrational outburst, I immediately deleted the reblog of their post as well as blocking their blog from my list of Blogs I Follow. You will note that to prevent the writer being embarrassed or harrassed for their incomprehensible act I have deliberately left out any reference to them, their blog and the post in question.

As writers we all need to embrace positive public relations. Clearly the writer in question either doesn’t realize this, or they have decided that they don’t need to avail themselves of it, taking the totally misguided view that their talent alone will ensure their success as a writer. This particular writer obviously needs to reassess their attitudes. All writers need allies and friends, especially other writers…

When is a friend not a friend?

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Answer – when interacting with people on any given social media site.

The Oxford English Dictionary clearly defines a friend thus – a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Or, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.To achieve that requires two people physically meeting one another.

None of the above can be applied to the people we meet on social media sites like Facebook, or on our blogs come to that. At best the interaction we have with one another can only be described as clinically disembodied. Whatever possessed Mark Zuckerburgh to use the word ‘friend’ when he and his team decided early on what to call the online connections the vast majority of us engage in, when clearly they can never become anything more than acquaintanceship’s at best?

True friends are hard to come by. They are people you have known and spent time with for the greater majority of your life. They are the people who will drop everything to physically be there for you when you most need help. Whereas social media ‘friends’ cannot react in the same way. Unless you go online stating what is wrong in a given set of circumstances, they would never know. Plus at best all they can do is sympathize, and wish you well!

True friends drop in for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee once in a while. Do your social media ‘friends’ do that? Are they physically and financially capable of traveling to where you live, wherever it may be across the world? When you are ill true friends come round to where you live to do what they can to alleviate your pain and discomfort. It is a fact that true friends can never do enough for each other. Whereas social media ‘friends’ cannot. How can they? As far as I am aware, teleportation via our computers has not yet become available. The closest we can get is by using a facility such as Skype!

Thanks to people like Zuckerburgh and others, the whole concept of friendship has become devalued to the point where, God forbid, it may become the norm in the not to distant future! Then there is another point to make here, while we may enjoy ‘chatting’ online with someone, should we actually meet would we actually like one another? Remember this, at no time during a ‘chat’ with someone online can you physically read them.

Face it folks, there is no substitute under the sun for actually meeting someone in the flesh and getting to know them. While you may like what you see on your screen, no amount of typed words in an email, or in Facebook’s case, its ‘chat’ facility, can ever replace that. On any given social media site, all we can ever do is read the words before us on our computer or smart phone screens.

So, to sum up, the only people we can truly call friend on any given social media site are those we have actually met during our lifetimes…