Monday, November 27, 2017

Thoughts on Writers

I went to the Wollongong Writers Festival, Sexy Words panel, yesterday. It's my local festival, or at least the closest one to me, and they have a romance panel supported by ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association), which is a great thing. Not many writers festivals include romance, so I like to support it.

For a long time, I've been trying to work out what Indie authors (independent authors; those who self publish first and foremost, even if they may be published by a publisher later on) do that's different (and often more successful) to the more 'traditional' authors, and yesterday I think I had a brain break through. Although, it may be baloney!

This wasn't just because of the panel yesterday - it's the synthesis of years of puzzling, and the case of things falling into place yesterday. It may have been because of the questions, the answers, the authors, or it may just be that acupuncture is working, my viruses are no longer winning, and I'm starting to feel alive again (thank heavens!)

In a nutshell, this is what I'm now thinking - 

Traditional authors - those with a publisher, including hybrids (those who publish by self and with a publisher) - are marketing a product. Indie authors are marketing themselves.

I'm going to give grand generalisations here, and although I know generalisations aren't right, they're the only way I can illustrate these points in a short post, and because not everyone falls into these 'categories'. I also can't give any details because after collecting thoughts over the last few years, I've no idea who I can attribute these things to any more. 

Traditionally, authors have been those who write a creative work that's the 'best they can do at the time' and they keep writing more stories, trying to perfect the craft of writing. Publishers have 'standards' which authors are trying to meet, to attain publication. Having one book accepted is no guarantee that another book will meet the same standards.

So, those authors who follow the traditional method, and are looking for a publisher's 'validation' are selling a product and trying to make that product the best they can create. They also follow some sort of 'rules' to meet these 'criteria' - although these are rather nebulous.

Indie authors have a different mindset, as far as I can work out. [Please remember, vast generalisations and since I'm not Indie, I have no way of knowing if I'm correct here.] Indie authors are selling themselves. Their books are them, their life, their fantasies, their struggles, their dreams. They aren't looking to attain any standard, they're writing purely for themselves and their friends (and their readers become their friends).

Where publishers caution you not to reply to reviews, Indie authors are in there, having robust discussions about their books, telling readers/friends where the stories developed and how they know that what they did is right for their story, their characters (or accepting if they made an error).

Indie authors share the process. Traditional authors are wrapped up in secrecy because of contracts.

Where traditional authors are hesitant and not sure of their work; Indie authors have written a fantastic story and they love every single word of it.

Publishers encourage you to have a social media presence, but you're a business. Indie authors have a social media presence that is them, no holding back.

The Indie phenomenon has turned the creation and sale of stories on its head.

For a long time, I could see extrovert/introvert. But that's too narrow a focus. All Indies aren't extroverts, in the same way that all traditionalists aren't introverts. So I think I've come a long way past that now. I'm getting a bigger and better understanding of the difference.

And... yet... even as I know this, I don't think I can change me.

I'm an introvert. I value privacy, but my family values it more highly than I do. I'm also notoriously bad at sharing me, but especially when I'm vulnerable. For example, I wrote about my sickness when I was getting better. There is no way I could have said that I was sick, when I was really ill. I curl into a ball when I'm sick, and to have others poke at me even with the best of intentions, isn't something I can cope with. I hardly let Mr E bring me a glass of water, much less have other people offer me kindness.

So, although I've had this revelation about how I can interact more with readers and hence have better reader relationships and sales, it's not something I can possibly do.

But, I will try to change. I'll try to be proud of what I've produced - instead of thinking I can do better. I will try to share more of me. I will try to interact more.

And if you prod me when I forget these things, I won't growl :) I'll try hard to feel the poke as a loving reminder that I'm falling into old habits.

Writing Festivals bring about some very unusual thoughts! I love them :)

How do you feel about Writing Festivals?
What are your thoughts on Indie and traditional published authors?

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