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Every story, every poem, every novel counts…

We live in a world where publishing has become as easy as buying a book at Amazon. Anyone who want’s to, can share their work, either for free or for a charge. Yet there are a lot of people, readers, other writers, journalists, and many more who are annoyed or even upset about the easiness of which anyone can publish.  They cry out about technicalities not regarded properly. The scream at misspelled words, at bad grammar and bad style. They complain about how a writer tells her/his story if they don’t go the usual way, whatever that is. They wage war against the unusual and out of the box or unguided and inexperienced. And that’s their right. They have a right to their opinion and to voice it. They have a right to point out all those flaws and to share their findings with everyone else.

Over the last year, I have seen and heard it all. Well maybe not all but a lot. From a one star review complaining about my spelling and grammar, of which I warned, to five star reviews that made my heart swell with pride and joy. Looking back at 2016 and the five books I published, and the countless books I read, I realize something. One of the big topics during the year was diversity, racism, and bigotry. I saw hundreds of posts on Facebook from other authors about how we need to have diversity in our stories, to promote togetherness and acceptance in our worlds of fiction and fantasy.  Something I deeply agree with. Those posts and the events of last year made me realize two things I want to share.

One:

As a writer, good or bad, known or unknown, famous or lost in the multitude of others, we have a chance and a responsibility. The saying, the feather is mightier than the sword, doesn’t come from nothing. There is truth in it. As writers, we have the chance to influence, inform and even shape others. No matter what we write, from fiction to fantasy, from biography to all the non-fictions, we reach people. With our words, we touch their minds and sometimes their souls. With the world we paint, we educate, share our opinions, emotions, and hopes. We let them into our dreams and our fears. With each word we share a part of our mind and soul with our reader. All throughout history there have been writers that inspired. Some ignited a flame inside others, leading to great inventions, pollical change, or rebellion as well as peace. With the stroke of a feather, wars rose, kingdoms fell and societies were reconstructed after being torn down. It’s scary to think about the power one writer can wield by sharing a piece of themselves. Which words will do what, nobody will know until it happened. There have been works that went utterly unnoticed, had been scrutinized and frowned upon, until they ended up in the hand of one person and changed that person. Which brings me to the second realization.

Two:

This will be something many will take as an excuse on my side for publishing my work without a professional edit, especially since I’m dyslexic and mistakes are a certainty. It’s not. An excuse I mean. Publishers, bloggers, reviews and so many others want more diversity especially  infictional work. They ask the writing community to stand up against bigotry and hatred, against racism and homophobia. Something I agree with, yet the same people are often the ones doing everything in their power to suppress the same diversity within the writing community. And no, I don’t mean that they should accept bad spelling of grammar. As often as I read articles about the writing community promoting the acceptance of diversity, I read articles condemning self-publishing authors. What I disliked (hated) the most was when those articles attacked not a specific writer, but the broad spectrum of self-publishing writers. They didn’t attack because of bad editing or poor cover design, neither for endlessly ongoing sentences that simply didn’t seem to end. What they criticized was the way the writer told their story, the style, or the topic or how explicit their sex scenes were. They complained about writers who didn’t study the craft at a college or university. They judged on experience and if that author had ever made it onto a bestseller list or not. They put all writers into a box and those who didn’t fit that box were ridiculed and condemned as bad writers.

The same people who told us to embrace diversity, rejected the very same thing within the writing community.

Writing not unlike painting is an art and as such it is subjective. Where one might find a story boring and shallow, another might find beauty and depth. Like a song doesn’t sound the same to everyone’s ear, a story doesn’t touch everyone’s soul the same way. Some styles are for a brought spectrum of people, while others are just for some. Diversity means a multitude of attributes, different ways of thinking and interpreting. It means many different ways of telling a story, of conveying one’s thoughts. It means stepping out from the box society, rules and holier then thy critiques want to keep us in.

Self-publishing opened the doors for diversity, to be embraced not just by being integrated in the stories written but by accepting the multitude of ways a story is told. Every story, no matter how it is told, has a right to exist, has a purpose and a meaning. Each one has the possibility to inspire and ignite a spark.

And when this year runs out in a few hours, I know that I touched some people with my stories, shared some of my soul with them and maybe inspired them in some way. I go into the next year knowing that I will do it all over again, with new stories and those already published. But most of all I know that I and many others, embrace diversity not just with our writing but with our acceptance of other writers who go down the same road. There is nothing more diverse than the writing community.

Promotion, promotion, promotion

That’s the mantra of any hard working independent author. There are many ways to promote your latest work, or yourself, and your work in general. Most of us know the social network channels like Twitter, Facebook, Linkin and so on. Yet there are ways outside of the cyber world, and those are just as important. Connecting face to face with the reader is (at least in my opinion) the most important and the scariest thing you have to do.
How do you connect with your readers?
I go to any and all trade shows I can reach and afford, sometimes team up with other authors to lower the cost for each of us. As long as our genres don’t collide too much, that always works out fine. Yet even when not on a trade show, farmers market or book fair, there are always situations you can use to promote. One of those I want to talk about today, the business card.
Business cards are a great tool, and easier to bring under the folk as you might think. How often are you asked at a checkout for your phone number or email address? How often do you have to give your name, address or phone number to, for example a handy man, contractor, doctor, dentist and so on? Sure you know those things by heart, can spell them out for whoever is asking, or could just write it down yourself, but why would you? Why not use the opportunity to inconspicuously promote your work?
Most business cards you get handed have a front, sometimes with picture, but almost always with nothing in the back. What a waste of space.
Most of us know that pitching is one of the most important things, an author should be able to do. Surmise your work/book in one or two short sentences. Bait the reader, publisher, agent with just that one short combination of words. Then pray they bite.
You can use your business cards as a fishing pole. In the front like all business cards are your information, with the cover of your book / latest book worked within. A nice little arrow, heart, infinity sign, pointing to the backside, letting the one you hand it to, know there is more. On the back of the card is your bait, your pitch or blurb.
When the cashier asks for your phone number, hand him a card, tell him to keep it. Same when you fill out an application, when you get asked for your postal code, or hire a contractor. Even if the person you gave it to has no interest, he has seen and most likely read it. The cashier might leave it at the till, and the next shift will find it and be interested. Perhaps the handyman puts it on his desk, and his secretary finds it, or your dentist’s assistant keeps it, and your dentist is your next customer. Another might take it home to his wife, daughter, sister or mother. Don’t underestimate the power of the business card. Always throw the fishing pole (business card) and dangle the bait.
Happy fishing

 

business card waiting wings back

 

waiting wings card front business