Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Writing and the Rock Star Life.

Can ya hear the crowds chanting your name? Can ya just hear the roar of approval when you step onto the stage before an audience numbering in the tens of thousands - all wearing t-shirts with your picture on them - adjust your microphone and. . . read aloud.

Chances are, no matter how popular an author is, a mosh pit has never opened up at one of his readings. Few teenaged girls have passed out while a poet laureate signs 8x10 glossies. Scalpers rarely appear outside of libraries.

Yet writers, like rock stars, crave feedback. Even the most secure author can, on occasion be caught cruising Amazon, checking her ranking. And it's not an act of pure ego - most often it is in search of an answer to the question, "Has my work touched another life? Does this art in my soul resonate with another soul out there?"

I don't know what writers did before the Internet and all its instant goodness. Want to know how well your book is selling? Just pull up a book selling site and check your ranking. Want to connect with someone who is reading your book right now? Jump on Twitter, or Facebook, or Shelfari, or any number of sites where readers gather to talk books. And let's not forget blogging - my personal favorite. What I love about blogs is the ability to have a long, ongoing discussion between several readers and writers over periods of time.

The Internet is a great tool for marketing books, but I've found, just as Debbie discovered, that the true beauty of being online is how easily you can connect with someone you love to read. I read a wonderful book on writing called Spunk & Bite: A writers guide to punchier, more engaging language & style by Arthur Plotnik. I loved it (it's the only book on writing I've read all the way through and the only one I recommend on a regular basis). So, I blogged about it. The next day Arthur Plotnik commented on my blog. I 'bout fell over. Then he came back and commented again. I e-mailed him and asked if he would consider appearing on my blog as a guest. He accepted (and wrote a brilliant piece on staging you will enjoy reading), and we have e-mailed back and forth now and again, ever since.

What have I learned about being an author online? I've learned that famous people tend to be regular folks who love to connect with people. I've learned that the best thing for me to do when I'm online is to be professional (I often compare going online to stepping on a stage - people are watching). And, I've been blessed to learn that there are people who are as eager to connect with me as I am to connect with them - and that is a huge blessing.

Are you living the rock star life online? We'd love to hear about it!


Steve G said...

As a pastor I recognize the holistic approach of professionalism, that it is with you 24/7. We have to be who we are, but we also have to be "becoming more like Jesus" from start to finish. That verse from 1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind about moving on from childish things. So, I think you hit the nail on the head with those comments. As that other author said, "All the world's a stage..."
It is neat to connect with people. I like to get books which authors have signed. I got a nonfiction at a conference recently. He had nobody sign-up for his signing (except me...) and so he was off looking at books on the shelves with a buddy (body guard?). I approach him and he signed my book, but he also wasn't too interested in chatting, so fine... He didn't impress me, and it made me ask how genuine he was in his stuff. He could have been tired, but it looked more like distracted.

Word verification - firrino: a sports car designed by a drunk

Janet said...

Well, I met you... ;o)

Yes, it is a little dizzying sometimes, the people I have been able to converse with online. Some of them I've had the privilege of meeting in real life.

As far as I know, nobody has yet gotten giddy at the privilege of meeting me.

Bonnie Grove said...

Every once in awhile a Christian writer is brought fully back to the purpose for which she writes.

Yesterday I learned that a woman who had attended one of my conferences (connected to my non-fiction book, Your Best You), has been "devouring" my book and just recently made a decision for Christ.

I laughed and cried and am still rejoicing. What a joy to be allowed to have some small part in what God was doing in the woman's life.

It is a profound honor to be allowed to write books that have an impact on eternity.

Patti Hill said...

When I get an e-mail via my web site, I get giddy. I always reply, because I appreciate the time it took to read the book and then find a way to communicate to me. For me, knowing that someone is reading and connecting with my stories is the fuel that keeps me going.

Interestingly, I'm not getting nearly as many e-mails related to The Queen of Sleepy Eye as I did with the Garden Gates series. Self doubt! In fact, I still get more e-mails about the Garden series that I do about Queen. Hmm. More self doubt.

Maybe I didn't write to a need.

Maybe I got too preachy.

Maybe I overdid the description...just a bit.

Maybe...maybe I've lost my touch after three whole novels!


Okay, so I see that I depend too much on the approval of others. But, coincidently, it is the approval of others that allows us to be writers. Such a conundrum.

Word verification - phismi: something served in a Japanese restaurant I wouldn't eat.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thank you, Bonnie, for this post. I've connected with many other writers through the Internet. So the writing life is not as solitary as it once might have been. Thank you, Bonnie, for your response to my e-mail with a question I had for you just a few weeks ago. Pat