Monday, August 25, 2014

In Praise of the Village People

There are as many ways to find success as an author as there are people in the world. But one thing every author has in common is access to a village. Everyone knows it takes a village to raise a child—but it also takes a village to write a novel. In my case, in fact, I sometimes think it takes a large metropolitan area. 

Think about the list of services and experts authors use throughout the writing process: brainstorming groups, critique groups, professionals for researching purposes, technology experts to make the computer work again when it goes kablooey in the middle of a chapter, beta readers, editors, copy-editors, formatters, cover designers, people with marketing ideas and expertise, Mark Zuckerberg (for all the new and inventive ways Facebook changes to make our writing lives easier, duh), and our families and friends for being our first book shills. 

Add to mine:  cheerleaders, hand-holders, drill sergeants (to crack the whip and make me write), and an agent. The list seems endless.  

But then come THE READERS. Wow, to the readers! The whole rest of the village, tribe, town, city, or megalopolis might just be superfluous without an audience.

It’s taken me a while to start building my group of readers—one that doesn’t include only the members of my big village. I didn’t start writing with a bang and a huge break into popularity. My audience has come to me in a trickle that is slowly becoming a stream—approaching a steady stream. And I’m like a kid at Christmas with every new message from someone who isn’t my mom. 

Now that I’ve finished four books and, as I’ve shown above, know what it took to get them published, I definitely feel a sense of obligation to all the friends and fans who’ve paid to take a chance on my stories, and an obligation to those who helped me get the books into the world. I want to do my best work for them. I want each book to be worth their time.  This is a rather subjective goal, of course, because not everyone will love every book no matter how much care I put into it. But with luck, good craftsmanship will carry me through. 

Which, however much I said it wasn’t necessary without readers, brings me back to my village. Without it, my craftsmanship definitely suffers. So maybe my village people aren’t superfluous at all. This might be a chicken-and-egg dilemma:  Which is more important, writing partners or a writer’s readers? I haven’t any idea. I don’t want to get along without either. I’m pretty sure my fellow authors feel the same. 

It just so happens that as I write this I’m at an annual retreat with my critique partners. Maybe that’s made me overly warm and fuzzy toward these women who are my mentors and friends, and is why I’m writing this tribute. All I know is, I’ve got a new series of books that need to be started. My excitement is huge, but even so I haven’t been able to write word one on them until this week when I’ve had this opportunity to gather my CPs’ wisdom and encouragement.

At the same, maybe I’m feeling all squishy inside about my readers because I have two already-written books coming out back-to-back in September and October. The first, BEAUTY AND THE BRIT, has just received its first pre-release reviews, and a brand new-to-me reader gave it wonderful praise. I’m humbled by the “other half” of my writing team coming through in such a positive way. 

See? It’s not possible to be an author without practically a whole East Coast of the U.S.-sized group helping you along!

So, this IS a tribute and a thank you—to everyone who is a part of my life and to ANY writer’s life. READERS:  you need to know how much we think of you as the rock stars. We love you.  CRIT PARTNERS (and everyone else mentioned above):  you need to know how indispensable you are. Because . . . you are!

Please tell me all about the person or people who is/are indispensable in your life. And, if you’re interested in those two new books of mine coming out soon you can check them out or pre-order them! 

Beauty and the Brit:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Good Guys Wear Black:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

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