Everyone talks about the need to be prepared for eventual success as an author. In this scenario, success simply means getting your book published. When that coveted moment happens, we are told we should already have an established blog, a web site and established social media platforms such as a twitter account and a Facebook page.
It can be madness!
I totally get why it would be a good idea to have these set up early. Once the ball starts rolling on promoting your little miracle (a burden that largely falls on the shoulders of authors now-a-days) you will have little time to build a web site. But honestly, as I make my “Laura Connors Author” website, I can’t help but wonder who in the heck will bother to read it. I’m not a published author, ergo the general consensus would be I am not an author at all. Just a wannabe writer. And there are days when I think that myself.
But I will follow this advice, offered by so many multi-published authors, because I know they are right. Besides, acting as if I am a published author will make it all the more likely to happen, right?
So let’s assume the twitter account and my author page will be filled with cat pictures until I have something substantial to tout, like my debut novel. I am okay with that. And I’m okay with a website that leaves little blank boxes for me to fill in with my books as they are published.
The problem with all this starter advice is that it isn’t complete. There are other things I think we need to be ready for when the big dream finally gets realized.
Last year, I attended a book signing that included a current NYT best selling author and several of my published chapter-mates of RWA (Romance Writers of America). While I stood in line, waiting to get a paperback signed by one of my RWA friends, I marveled at the person in line in front of me.
It was a middle-aged man.
I had first noticed him earlier, hanging around while we waited for the book signing to get started. I was impressed that a man was willing to admit he read romance novels and would even wait in public to get one signed by the author.
I considered the possibility that he was there for his wife, who maybe just happened to love one of the great authors waiting to sign books. Or maybe he was getting his daughter an autographed book for Christmas, that would certainly make a nice gift.
And then I found myself in line, behind him, while we waited for my chapter mate’s signature on her popular new paranormal release. I decided to make small talk, since I was so fascinated by the presence of this lone man. To be fair, there were other men present, obviously dragged there by their wives, and making it clear they were not in line. But this man was obviously in line, patiently waiting his turn.
So I broke the ice by mentioning that the authors had a good turnout. He nodded, turned to me, and said, “Forty two hours.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, wondering if perhaps he had been waiting an insanely long time.
“Forty Two Hours. That’s a great name for a novel, isn’t it?”
“Uh, I guess.” Where he was going with this?
Where he was going was into a long diatribe about how he and his abused brothers had been in the foster system and in the last twenty years they had seen each other for a total of forty two hours. He told me he intended to inform my friend (just innocently sitting there signing the novels she had worked so hard to write) that he would provide the title and the story and all she had to do was write it.
All she had to do.
So seemingly simple. After all, the title was already figured out. What else do you need? He was so convinced of the strength of this title that he suggested the book would sell on that alone.
Realizing I was now standing in line behind a slightly crazy person, I tried to think of something to say that would prevent me from having to engage him any longer, but would also dissuade him from putting my friend in a very uncomfortable situation.
I finally proposed that his story would best be written by someone who wrote non-fiction. Since my friend was signing her paranormal romance, she was perhaps not the best person to write his book. Thankfully, he gave it some thought and ducked out of the line before we reached her table.
But what if this happened to me and there was no friend in line to deflect the “Why don’t you write my story” types? How would I deal with that while trying to promote my own book? I was offended that he believed writing a book is so simple all you need is a title. How could I gracefully get him to go away without causing a scene or scaring the real readers in line for an autograph?
There’s more than social media and promotion that we need to have started by the time our first book comes out. We need lessons on how to conduct ourselves in awkward social situations. Maybe we should have practice autograph signings or something…
Dream big, Laura, but be ready for the crazy.