It’s so exciting to have so many friends around the world–writers, heartful marketers like Lynn Serafinn, bloggers, like Kathy Pooler–I’m a guest on her site today–and all kinds of people passionate about memoir writing. I was telling someone about my good friend Sharon Lippincott the other day, and they asked how I knew her. Sharon is one of my colleagues at the National Association of Memoir Writers, and–we’ve never met, in person that is. We have talked on the phone countless times, collaborated, schemed ideas, planned, and even Skyped–so I know what she looks like–but meet? No, not yet. I hope to see her in person when she comes west. But we are good friends thanks to the Internet.
The other day on Facebook I was awed by the number of people responding to the huge beautiful moon this weekend–dozens of people posted about it and added their photos of the moon taken from all over the country. I felt blessed to be connected even in cyber space by so many people and their response to the moon! It is because of social media that we can be connected like this–and though people disparage the cyber space thing at times–every one of those posts I read was made by a real person. And on Twitter–it does not operate by bots, for the most part. The tweets that I read, and I don’t spend enough time there really, are all by real people who are writing, publishing, and reaching out with their message. It’s amazing to see this. There are so many communities online and so many ways to shake hands with people. I’m learning a lot about this attitude from Dan Blank, whose terrific course” How to Build your Author’s Platform” will help you change your thinking.
I know that memoir writers sometimes struggle with “social media” and mistakenly think that it’s superficial or a waste of time. I was one of those people, but no more. When we approach marketing and getting the word out about something important to us with respect, we will receive it back. When we offer something of value to others–in a memoir it’s the lesson, the message, the wisdom that is offered–others will think about how that message affects them. They will get curious and reach out to you.
Lynn Serafinn, a two-time guest at the National Association of Memoir Writers, is offering a conference about what I call “heartful marketing” in London in June–and I’m going! The reason I’m going is to connect with a large community of people who are passionate about having a spirit-ful connection with others, and I want to bring back lessons and wisdom about how memoir writers can shift their attitude about marketing and reaching out from a grudging “Okay, I supposed I have to start a blog and get on Facebook, what a drag,” to curiosity–“how can I make new friends on the web whom I would never know otherwise. How can I learn how to make all this work for me so I grow my community?” See below for how you can sign up.
1. Think about who you already have in your community–friends, relatives, friends of friends. That’s where you start.
2. Make a list of people whose message you resonate with–and what they say that triggers your response to them.
3. Now make a list of well known people–authors, talk show hosts, movie stars–whoever you really admire and like. Look at the review on Amazon of your favorite authors–maybe someone there is a person you can connect with.
4. Remember community is a circle–give and receive, comment and respond. It’s a little like going to a party where you shake hands and find out what you have in common. You listen, and you say a few things about yourself. Not the long form speech about your book, but the two-line elevator speech where you say what it is about and how it can help others.
There. Homework done, but keep making your lists and adding to them. Check your negative attitude at the door, and open up to the grand community we have here on the www–the World Wide Web.
If you are interested in Lynn’s global conference, the early bird discount is available. Sign up here for the conference or the simulcast–it’s very reasonable and easy to attend.
In my local community, I’m teaching a workshop at Beth Barany’s Write and Publish your Book in 2012 on May 19th. A great group of presenters will get you up to date in the 21st century of writing and publishing.
Now, back to writing. Later, I’ll look into Facebook for a few minutes, Twitter for a few minutes, and stop off at a couple of blogs. Just a regular day with my community of writers!
I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by Kathy Pooler. She has been in my workshops and is one of my premier blogger friends. Please join her blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey.
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” Robert Cormier
Photo Credit: “The Editing Process-Before and After” uploaded from Flickr
One of the greatest benefits of a critique group is receiving constructive feedback that enables you to take your writing to the next level. That can only happen if you allow yourself to be open to hearing from others what is working and what is not. I have been participating in Linda Joy’s Spiritual Autobiography and Healing Memoir Teleworkshops since January, 2010, where I have learned that writing is truly rewriting.
Revision is part of the process, as much as we’d like to think we can get it done on the first try.
Let’s face it, we all want our readers to fall in love with our little darlings. Our stories are our babies. We have created them with our own hearts and hands, but sometimes we are so close to our own words that we can’t see the discrepancies, missteps and omissions–the tweaks here and there that will make our stories and our characters become alive on the pages. Learning to self-edit is essential to our growth as writers. Read this excellent post by author, Nicola Morgan, comparing self-editing to weeding a garden.
Jody Hedlund, author of several Christian novels, Preacher Bride and The Doctor’s Lady,has an excellent blog post on her reactions to her own revision process “Getting Feedback That Makes You Cry.” About the “initial sting” of feedback, she states, “You need to give it some time and then come back to the suggestions with humble and objective eyes.” I really appreciate Jody’s honest sharing about the human aspect of receiving feedback.
The point is we have to be able to separate our emotions from the process of revising, and convince ourselves that revising will make our stories stronger.
We have to get over ourselves so we can go on to craft the best story in the best way.
“Writing is rewriting” is a common mantra in writing circles. In his book, Revision and Self-Editing, novelist James Scott Bell,talks about the importance of “rewriting with know-how” and lists the following tips in the revision process:
* Cool -Down …Take a break and walk away when your first draft is done.
* Prepare… Read through your first draft completely for the first time.
* Print out and prepare a fresh copy…with red felt pen and notepad handy.
* Get ready to read your manuscript… in a couple of sittings.
* Use outside readers…for objective opinions.
* Analyze… Does my story make sense, is my plot compelling, are my characters believable? Think about the effect on your reader as you write and revise, particularly in the later stages. Then, there’s the idea of deciding when our manuscript is done–after we’ve rewritten, incorporated feedback, deleted, added on, transformed our story and owned it. Perhaps this is another topic for another time.”
It seems to me that it’s essential to accept writing as rewriting, and revising as a natural part of the process. Constructive feedback helps us to see our blind spots, and offers us a chance to see through another reader’s eyes. These steps strengthen our stories and give them every possible chance to get into the hands of readers who will devour them with the same gusto it took for us to write them.
Perhaps the real starting point is when we accept that our first draft is lousy and needs to be rewritten, revised, and reconstructed. In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls a first draft “a child who is let loose and romps all over.”
I’d love to hear how you feel about revising and editing your work.
Are you rewriting with “know-how?”
Any ideas on how to get through the revision process as painlessly as possible?
Photo Credit: “The Revision Process” uploaded from Flickr
Join Kathy and me and other memoir writers at the National Association of Memoir Writers Free Telesummit Friday March 30. Sign up to join, or get the all day conference on audio to listen to later. Guests include Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, Dan Blank, Social Media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com, Tessa Smith McGovern founder of eChook, Lynn Serafinn, author of the 7 Graces of Marketing, Brooke Warner, expert writing coach at Warner Coaching, and me–Linda Joy Myers, author of The Power of Memoir. See you there!
Most writers seem to hate marketing, selling, or publicity. The idea of getting the word out about their work seems kind of—well, rude. Are you one of those writers? You’re in good company if you are, but you need to learn some new stuff about how to think about marketing—that is IF you want to be an author who people actually read. Do you want other people to read your book?
The other day someone told me that I shouldn’t advertise so much, that it was off-putting. I understand all too well that sentiment. Just like many of you, I learned, “Don’t toot your own horn, certainly don’t talk about yourself too much or too often. And don’t tell me I should buy anything!!”
Didn’t most of us grow up with rules against telling others that we have something they might need, that we have created something we’d like them to know about. I know that I did. When I was young, my grandmother used to say, “You think you’re something don’t you? Well, you’re nothing. Don’t get so high and mighty.”
It’s possible that I was being an irritating teenager when she said that, but there were many other comments that told me that my voice, my desires, my thoughts of expansion, or self-esteem were “too much,” shameful, and selfish. And that has happened to a lot of people, and it leaves its mark.
Writers suffer from a great deal of this ailment. They whisper, they find it hard to speak out, to write their truths, to claim their space, particularly women. When you become a writer, you have to learn how to break long years of conditioning to be silent, or if not silent, to be cautious about taking up space, or being too pushy, or obvious or demanding. Of course we need to be aware of our effect on others, but some of these early teachings serve us badly. We learn not to say what we know, we learn to hide our lights. It takes a long time—too long—to claim our wisdom, to know what we know and be willing, even eager, to share it. It gets in the way of our writing, and once we write, it gets in the way of putting our work into the world where it can do some good.
I’ve declared 2012 The Year of the Memoir, which means I’m dedicated to support and encourage creating—and selling—your memoir. This happens in stages.
- Arrange your life so you write your memoir. Keep writing, don’t let the inner and outer critics discourage you.
- Find your voice, write your truths. Sit down and write regularly.
- While you are writing, you need to imagine your audience, those whose lives you want to affect by your work. You are not journaling privately, you are writing a book!
- Writing a book, a longer work, a memoir means you want others to read what you have to say and you need to have positive affirmations and visualizations about how powerfully your words will affect others!
- Imagining your audience means that you will write scenes, you will bring the reader into the world you create on the page. You will start to see your story with the eyes of an observer, which guides your narration and perspective in your memoir.
- Finish the first draft, then start working on another draft or two. Have someone mentor you through several stages of your book. You will be thinking about your reader, your audience even more now, and wondering how you can reach that audience.
- Marketing is taking that idea further—that there is an audience who needs your book, people who are eager to read it.
- Marketing means getting the messages out there that will INVITE your readers to you. You need to make it easy for them to find you.
We writers need to learn new ways to think about marketing—that it is a way of giving to others, not taking from them. We are offering our readers a way to see the world through fresh eyes, to learn something new, to be entertained, to see life in a new way by reading our work. We will inspire others to write, to create, to bring their own vision to fruition.
Think of your writing, your book, and your marketing as a gift.
Join us at the National Association of Memoir Writers to listen to Lynn Serafinn talk about the Gift of Marketing. Her spiritual, holistic and inspiring way to see marketing can turn your mind around and make you see it through new eyes!
In what ways have you been reluctant to share your work–for money?
What were the childhood messages you got about selling, marketing, and publicity?