Well hello, everybody! Or perhaps I should say “hei hei!”
I was pleased to get an e-mail from one of you asking when I was going to post again. It's nice to know some of you care and are interested in my ramblings. So here's my latest!
I’ve been a bit busy lately with my “day job.” I just spent about a week in Norway and learned good bit about writing in the process.
What does Norway have to do with writing, you may ask.
Well, not Norway, per se, but traveling in general. Let me explain.
Traveling exposes us to other people, cultures, climates, environments, and so forth. The little nuggets that you pick up from travelling make our writing appear more real. Let me give an example.
While in Norway, I visited an old fortress. One of the things I noticed about the castle was how the stone stairs were rutted from feet marching up and down them for centuries.
I put that detail in my writing. It makes my imaginary tower more concrete. Can you see the cracked stone stairs rutted by the invisible feet from people now long since dead? It adds so much to the scene—visual details, texture, even a sense of what had occurred in that location in the distant past. I wouldn’t have thought about that detail without having experienced it myself. And I wouldn’t have experienced a thousand year old tower in Cleveland.
Also, my story, Riddle in Stone, is set in a northern climate. Being in Norway gives me ideas as to how people in such climates deal with the cold and so forth.
So, in addition to the old adage “read a lot and write a lot,” I’d like to add “travel a lot.” Traveling exposes us to other realities that we can put in our stories.
There was something else I learned about writing on my trip to Norway.
Thanks to the wonderful people at Scandinavian Airlines (United Airlines, sucks by the way), I was bumped up to “Economy Plus.” Honestly, you haven’t flown until you experienced seats that are actually wide enough to sit in! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to “coach.”
Anyway, on my trip back to the States, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a professional writer. AN ACTUAL WRITER WHO MAKES MONEY AND EVERYTHING!!!! I won’t tell you her name. Let’s just call her “17B.”
17B and I spent much of the 11 hour flight talking about the craft and something she said really struck me. She said that most new writers don’t realize what impresses publishers most.
“What?” I asked, literally taking out my notepad out of my backpack to jot down her words of wisdom.
“Marketing plans,” she said. “Most publishers won’t even look at a manuscript if it has a weak marketing plan.”
I found this to be the case when I was pitching my manuscript to publishers. Many of them asked my agent “how big is his following on twitter?” and “how many hits does he get on his blog each month?” And so forth.
Being an author is no longer just about writing. We have to market our work. We have to have blogs and facebook accounts and so forth. To be really honest, that’s why I write this…to help meet people and promote my work. Did I mention that I have a book out called Riddle in Stone???
Think about it. Would you know about Riddle in Stone if you hadn’t read my blog? Probably not.
Now, I realize that I’m not going to become a best seller because I blog or have a facebook page. But, at this point in my writing “career,” I’m not worried about becoming a best seller. I’m worried about selling enough books so that I can get my second manuscript published. And a few hundred people here and there could tip the scales in my favor. So, to me as a new writer, marketing plans are HUGELY important. You might want to think about them if you want to get published.
17B said something else that caught my attention. She laughed and said that most new writers refuse to think about marketing plans. She said that writers often see themselves as “artists” and that worrying about marketing their work was somehow “beneath them.”
I have to admit, I felt that way at first. When my agent told me to start blogging and becoming active online, I really grumbled and dragged my feet. But I have to say, blogging and facebook have helped.
Riddle in Stone is selling reasonably well for the likes of me. My publisher wants a sequel to it. I’ve gotten a bunch of publicity because of my blog. And, perhaps most importantly, I meet a wonderful group of people who are supportive of me and my work—which is something all new writers need.
So travel and market. You’ll be glad you did!