Monday, March 16, 2015

Writing 101: Are You Disposable?

You know how they say you're only as good as your last book? They say it because it's true. Some people throw books away when they're done reading them. I delete mine right off the Kindle. You may not like it, but as an author you are at least some of the readers, all of the time.

Getting Trashed

The life of an author can be painful,. If you send out letters to agents and publishers pitching your book, you will be rejected by some of them. If you self-publish and you court the book bloggers, you will get reviews that hurt your feelings. If you make yourself available to fans through social media, you will be leaving yourself open to ridicule and attacks. But few things hurt quite as bad as simply being totally, completely ignored.

I got to thinking about being disposable when I was, very unceremoniously, fired from a freelance job I'd held for about 6 years.  I got a form email -- seriously -- that didn't even have my pen name on it. I was fired because a client didn't like a single 300-word piece I'd written, after thousands of projects I'd completed successfully. And I was devastated. So devastated that these events all played out quite some time ago; I couldn't bring myself to blog about it before now. The point is, that's the day I started thinking about being disposable.

Books can be thrown away. Reviewers can stop showing up. Fans might stop emailing you and maybe you will get fired. That's really the nature of the business, no matter which aspect of writing you happen to be in.

I took a long time about writing this post because I wanted to have an answer by the time I got to the end of it. I wanted to give all writers some solution to their own disposable nature. What I've learned is that there isn't one. To some readers, to some editors, to some people you will be disposable. You are nothing more than words on a screen, and words can be erased with the click of a button or the flick of a wrist. But to other readers, you will be unforgettable. It's easy to forget that on days that you get a bad review or you get fired, but just wait. On a different day, you'll get that Tweet from a fan telling you that they can't go to bed because they can't put your book down. Everyone won't find you so easy to throw away, I promise. 

So keep writing.

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