Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dancing With The Stars

So everybody knows that writing has its frustrations: long hours, lots of re-writes, (in my case very) low pay. Even moreso when you're a self-publishing writer, the bias against which I discuss here and here. But today I'd like to talk about one of the great pleasures of this job: namely, the chance to interact with (and get support from) other authors.

Some people have suggested that the internet is making our society a true democracy at last, in which all ideas receive an equal hearing. I think this idea has been largely debunked in other contexts, but I know from personal  experience that it has allowed me to communicate with my writing peers and colleagues in a way that might not, previously, have been possible. The miracle of Twitter has allowed for a real-time exchange of thoughts, ideas, and favors.

For instance, when I started reading Sweet Venom, by the inestimable Tera Lynn Childs, it seemed to me that the early chapters smacked of Buffy influence. In a previous era, fans might have had for some interviewer to notice the same thing and ask the author about it, but I didn't! I just Tweeted her and asked away. (It turns out I was right, by the way: she started watching the shows as "research" for the series and promptly became obsessed. Thus did I not only talk to an awesome fellow author, but meet a fellow Whedon afficionado! Joy to the world!)

And when I put together the promotional campaign for my most recent novel Atticus for the Undead (featuring the first ever trial of a zombie for eating brains!), I decided to do something really ballsy and ask some fellow authors if they'd read it and plug it on their websites or in their Tweets if they liked it. A show of chutzpah on my part, certainly -- there was no reason to expect that established and successful authors would  care a whit about my little book -- but it paid off. A few days after I e-mailed out the ARCs, I was rewarded by a gushing e-mail from the amazing Angela Scott (whose book, Wanted: Dead or Undead is on my list to buy as soon as it hits shelves) telling me that she loved the book and thought I was on track to be among the great fiction writers! (Seriously, folks, that one made my whole day. I e-mailed a bunch of friends and family and went SQUEEEEEEE! AN ACTUAL WRITER WITH ACTUAL TALENT ACTUALLY LIKES ME!) Ms. Scott proceeded to become a follower of my blog.

I've also gained writer-friends in people like Lindsay Buroker and Pam von Hylckama. Not only do these people and I trade fabulously witty Tweets on a daily basis, I've even been able to guest post on their blogs. (My nefarious plan worked so  well that I'm pretty sure they even think I was doing them a favor by saving them the trouble of writing a blog entry that day. In reality, I was on Cloud 9 for the opportunity.)

So, yes, I don't get much sleep (as Lindsay can attest) and the pay is all-but-nonexistent and I want to tear my hair out with every new book. But in one respect, at least, becoming an author really has allowed me to dance with the stars.

*My thanks to all the authors and bloggers who have shown support for my projects. You are the lifeblood of On The Bird.


  1. Great post, John.

    I've found writers to be incredibly generous people. But self-published authors are the best of the best. We share marketing failures and successes, promo opportunities, editor and cover artist information, tricks of the trade. I feel blessed to be a part of such a giving community.

  2. I agree entirely, though several traditionally-published authors (or soon-to-be traditionally published authors) have been very good to me too.

  3. Hehe, guest blogging is a win for both parties. :) A little promo for you and a free blog post for the host. And guests usually help promote their posts, too, so the host even gets some extra visitors.

  4. John, what a great post on the power of social media, especially for us #indies. :) Love it. Personally, when I write an author to tell them I loved their book and they write me back, I feel like I'm talking to genuine celebrity - I don't give two whits about whether they're on the NYT bestseller's list or not. If I respect their writing, they're celebrities to me. :D So, I'm going to try out your books and let you know what I think! :) (I'm sort of a review-a-holic.)

  5. Adriana-

    Thanks so much for your kind words! Please do try any or all of my fiction, I look forward to hearing your opinions!