Take Your Writing Seriously, So That Others Will, Too

Here is your main take-away from this post:

Serious writers should strive NOT to be junk peddlers.  Self-published/Indie authors have the worst reputations for being junk peddlers. 

If you're going to make a business of your writing, it's very important that you do your part to change that perception.  Do your best to make your writing worth someone's time and money.

Here are a few things to increase the chances of your writing being well-received.

1.  Read more books. 
One of my college professors told me that reading expands the vocabulary, improves the attention span, cures laziness, and staves off over all ignorance.  So, I guess that makes it a cure all.  But if nothing else, the more you read, the better you write.  No one wants to read any work that looks like it was written by someone who never read a book...ever.  Spend some time in a library and/or a bookstore and just read.

2.  Read articles and blogs. 
Find useful information and apply it to developing your craft and preparing yourself for publishing, including learning what to look for and what to avoid.
Here is one most excellent blog by the Passive Income Author, Skellie with tons of great insight.
Here is another one from Maria Murnane about the importance of editing.
One more, from Mallary Jean Tenore, speaking with bestselling author, Jennifer Weiner about social networking tools.

And Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors are excellent reference sites for authors looking for publishing options, editors, and agents.  Yes, I know "predators" is misspelled, but I'm sure they thought it was a really clever play on words at the time.  It's still worth a look.
Look around.  Read, read, read!

3.  Observe other writers and learn from them.
For this, you should be willing to read through some other up-and-coming authors' work, and not just authors whom you already admire.  Visit their websites and blogs.  Attend author events, workshops, and conferences, if possible.  If you can't attend a conference or workshop...you guessed it.  Read!  Learn what other authors do well, and decide what you want to emulate.  Learn what they don't do as well, and decide what you'd like to improve for your own writing platform and future works.

4.  Write openly, honestly, and without inhibition. 
Yes, this takes work.  Writing is personal, and it's hard enough to allow someone else to see your work without the added pressure of someone not "getting" it, and therefore not enjoying it.  Take your time to get to this point.  You'll be ready to share when you're ready to share.  But at some point, you'll need to put fear and inhibition in your back pocket and move.  And a lot of it will be painful and scary, but that's what good writing is, in my opinion.

5. Write for readers, not for other writers.
If you're developing a story, a character, or something else in draft form, or if you're writing just to vent or blow off steam about the challenges and lessons of the journey, then it's always a good idea to bounce your thoughts off of other writers.  For that, find a good writer's forum, like She Writes.  But once you're ready to push forward with a finished work, understand that your audience is different.  Most of your reading audience doesn't care about the journey.  They just want you to bring the story home.  In order for your readers to care about you and your work, and to want to support it, they need to feel connected to you and what you're offering.  Write about things that they care about, and they will care about you.

6.  Treat your writing like a business.
If you want exposure, and possibly to publish and distribute your work, create and build a presence, online and in real life, and that's more than just spamming people with BCC emails and regularly blasting ads for your book on their Facebook walls.  It's lazy, ill-mannered, annoying, and usually ineffective.

Remember:  Engage and connect.  While your Facebook page is a great place to socialize and network, you'll find that it's not the best place to sell books.  Think about it.  How many books have you bought from your Facebook friends?  How much actual support have you given to a business listed on Facebook, other than "Like" the page?  Exactly.  All the more reason to get out and about on the Web and broaden your cyber horizons.

7.  Create a website, or at least a blog, that's geared toward attracting readers.  Take an interest in what interests your readers.  Search for and find readers who are actually interested in what you write, i.e., your genre or subject matter
Don't assume that one person's audience will be drawn to your writing just because you write in the same genre.  Put in the work.  Research.  Pay attention.

8.  Compartmentalize.
If you have a personal website, Facebook page, or Twitter profile, consider creating and maintaining a second website or profile that is exclusively for your writing business.  And for the love of beans and gravy, please treat your website with care.  Check it and update it regularly, especially to catch and correct typos, and to make sure your links work.  No one will take you seriously as a writer, editor, publisher, etc., if you don't take the care to maintain your web presence.  There are tons of places that you can build free or inexpensive websites, such as Weebly.  And believe me when I say that they make it super user-friendly, and still help you put together an attractive, professional site.  If you want to invest in a professional to build your site, then okay; but just know that there are some free-of-charge options out there. 

9.  Keep it professional.
Whatever you do, don't treat your business website like an old MySpace page, with music and graphics bouncing all over the place.  It's distracting, especially if it's a song that I know, and too many moving parts and too much noise will make it look (and sound) amateurish.  It's all right to be an amateur, as long as you put a professional foot forward.  For an occasional sanity check, ask family and friends to look over it and give you feedback.  A fresh set of eyes will often catch things that we miss in our own work.  I prefer a silent website, but depending on your target audience, music and a few subtle graphics may work for you.  Just keep it professional.

Well, that's it for now.  As always, this is just what I'm learning as I go.  Use what works for you, and brain dump the rest.

Take care, all.  Happy Writing!

Views: 490

Tags: Blogs, Business, Publishing, Reading, Self-Publishing, Writers, Writing

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Comment by Regina Y. Swint on March 5, 2012 at 8:33pm

Thank you, Joy.  I appreciate that.  :)

I hope that organizing them now will help me be able to locate them more easily later, just in case I want to refer back to something one day.

Lately, I feel like I have to prepare myself for the next thing, and organizing my blogs is a part of that.  I hope I can manage to control myself and not find yet another reason to open another blog.  Otherwise, they'll start to feel like those free checking accounts I open at the banks, just because they're free, but are basically empty.  I'm embarrassed to admit how many open bank accounts I have that I pretty much never use.  But maybe that'll inspire a blog post.  :)

Comment by Regina Y. Swint on March 5, 2012 at 8:00pm

Hi, Joy,

I'm not really sure how I ended up with so many blogs, but I tell myself that they're good for sorting out and compartmentalizing my thoughts. 

I want to engage as many people as I can, make as many connections as possible, so I maintain blogs on a few different pages. I put the thoughts down on whichever blog seems to fit at the time.

The first blog, Write on Time, I use to post random thoughts about my life, including work-related stuff, family stuff, relationships, movie reviews, stuff about being single, etc., and a few tidbits on what makes me tick as a writer.  I think of it as my "figuring out life stuff" blog, and it's a hodge-podge of everything.  I tweet that one, just to try and drive up some traffic and encourage comments.

The second blog, Writers Should Know This, is directed toward up-and-coming writers (and seasoned writers, too, I guess), where I share thoughts, experiences, and good information about the businesses writing and publishing, and especially to offer support and encouragement. I try to keep this one as professional-sounding as possible.  It's on my publishing site, and I want to project a good image there.  I tweet that one, too, trying to expose folks to the publishing house, and also to encourage some feedback from folks on how helpful or unhelpful the info is.

The third one is called Otherwise Perfect, on Blogspot, which is mostly a venting journal.  I've only had it for about a month.  Not much traffic goes there, so I pretty much just say anything there. 

The fourth one is here on She Writes.  This one is just a copy and paste place for any of my other posts that I feel like sharing in this forum.  It's good for occasional feedback, but doesn't get much traffic either. I blog here because there is a place to blog.

If that weren't bad enough, I just created a Wordpress blog, a week or so ago, no name yet, but I'm trying to figure out how I might actually consolidate a couple of blogs on that page.

All that said, I just write because I want to be read.  Comments are like my validation that I'm reaching someone somewhere; but I know that a lot of people would just rather browse and read, rather than leave comments or start a dialogue.  I just hope folks are reading, and that I'm making some sense.  :)

Comment by Regina Y. Swint on March 3, 2012 at 2:38pm

Hi, Dawn!

Thank you for reading and commenting.  I'm glad it was helpful.  I'm really glad to share all of the blogs and articles that I find useful and encouraging to me.  Usually, it's something that someone sent to me, and I just pass it along.  I think Patrick Conroy is definitely on to something, because I believe that's the way most of us feel; and all the more reason why reading is such a great help to us as writers.  It's like the fuel that gives us the energy to do what we do.

Comment by Regina Y. Swint on March 3, 2012 at 2:21pm

Hi, Joy!

Thank you!  If I haven't said so already, I'm very impressed by your designs.  It makes sense to me that reading does help us to find and develop our own voices.  I'm glad the blogs are helpful.  I'm posting and sharing more as I find them.  Reading is the only way I can think of that will help me develop more, so I figure the same is mostly true for other writers. 

Blogs are heaven-sent, in my opinion.  Bloggers not only share insight, but they encourage, sometimes, without even knowing it.  I'm nearly addicted to them, too.  I have three blogs open now, as I write this.  Bloggers and the people who read them are a big part of what helps me to be a better writer.  And so, I read, read, read!  Lord knows, I don't want to find myself reading books that immediately tell me that the writer doesn't read.  For one thing, the "voice" is all over the place, and it's hard to keep up.

Comment by Dawn Paoletta on March 3, 2012 at 2:18pm

This was an encouraging read to me. Think I will print it and consider some of it in my off - screen time! Thanks for all of the links and useful information. Oh, I wanted to add that I agree with the reading- I loved the way Patrick Conroy shares the power of what he has read in relation to His writing and personal live. Like drops into a vast ocean, each significant, effectual and useful in some mysterious way which is hard to actually pinpoint!

Comment by Regina Y. Swint on February 28, 2012 at 4:34pm

Hi, Kathryne!
Thanks for reading and commenting.  And you're welcome.  :) I feel the same way.  I've got to get back to making to for more reading.

Comment by Kathryne Arnold on February 28, 2012 at 10:06am

Enjoyed reading your blog. I agree that you have to take your own writing seriously for others to and it is definitely a business as well, which seems to be the hardest part for everyone. I love reading and I know I need to take the time to do more of that, so thanks for reminding me!

Comment by Regina Y. Swint on February 24, 2012 at 4:31pm

@Tina...I have to get into a habit of reading stuff that I don't write.  I'm sure it will help me develop into more of a "total" writer.  I've enjoyed a few mysteries here and there, too; but I write more romance fiction than anything.  I would like to venture into children's fiction or maybe some young adult fiction.  And I need to catch up on my modern classics, too.  Just get in some plain old-fashioned To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind types. 

@Mariana...I sure hope we're not as endangered as we feel.  What a world this would be without readers.  Scary thought, isn't it?  As for Jorge Luis Borges' comment, I'm sure there are lots and lots of others who agree that you can be one without being the other first.

Comment by Mariana Dietl on February 24, 2012 at 7:00am

I totally agree with all of you about the importance of reading. Jorge Luis Borges -whom if you haven't read I emphatically recommend- always said that before being a writer, he was a reader. I only hope we don't become an extinct species. I feel we are endangered already! Good reading, Mariana

Comment by Tina Barbour on February 23, 2012 at 10:10pm

Great post! Lots of helpful advice and reminders. I couldn't agree more with the reading part. Reading is like breathing for me. I think, too, that we should read a lot of the same genre that we want to write. For example, I read mostly nonfiction, because that's what I write. That said, I read a lot of mysteries, too, but I don't plan on writing one. I just love them!

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