Late last year I attended a session run by my local library (Sutherland Library). Led by travel writer Walter Mason the topic was along the lines of “How to publish your book”. While a large space had been set out, only about fifteen people turned up. I was early and so chatted with Walter (actually not realising that he was going to be the speaker). He was a very pleasant guy and we had a few laughs. Anyway, the session began and Walter took the podium (I wonder if he will bring it back – sorry for the lame joke).
Now let me just say, Walter’s talk was very thorough and very enjoyable, but one theme really stuck out: authors work best in a pack. No, I don’t mean the actual writing. Obviously, so many of us are solitary creatures when we write. But writing is only a part of the game. Getting the book published and actually read is the crucial part.
Now let’s just pause here and I will talk a little about my favourite topic – me. I tend to write late at night so that family obligations don’t distract me. I write and write and rewrite and delete and write and rewrite… Well, you get the picture. My works are continuously evolving. But I am very solitary. My publishing plan is to cut out as many people as possible by self-publishing on CreateSpace. I want to do everything alone. Even my interacting with other creative people tends to be online. Though this is not by choice, I just don’t know many creative people and this is the easiest way to find them (that’s you guys).
Oops… apparently not a good idea.
Walter said something along the lines of there being many excellent writers who remain unpublished and many average writers who are published and read. Actually, yes! I mean, how many times have you read something and thought to yourself “This is garbage. I could have written it better myself.” I must admit that I do that quite a bit, especially as I get older and more discriminating.
So the question is “How do some very mediocre authors get published?”
Walter maintains that the answer lays in the willingness of such mediocre authors to participate in activities associated with other authors, publishers and so on. Such authors make themselves known. They don’t even just turn up to such events, they try to insert themselves into them by volunteering time and getting their names known. This is basic Marketing 101. They are building their brand. When time comes and their book is written, they are already known to some extent. This gives them an immediate advantage. Publishers and potential readers will think “Hey, I recognise that name. I will give them a chance.” And that is what you, the author, want – a chance.
It makes sense.
I mean, think about some of the great writers and artists: they often interacted. In fantasy, the Inklings (J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Hugo Dyson, Robert Havard, Nevill Coghill, John Wain, and Warren “Warnie” Lewis) are a well known early example. Such meetings and groups don’t just stimulate an author’s brand, they also give authors insight and let “bounce” off one another to grow.
I now need to work out how I can mix with other authors and artists (on a budget given my lack of income).
Meeting and listening to Walter was a great experience. So thanks Walter and I look forward to seeing you at future events.