We’ve all heard it said it takes a village to raise a child. I would like to adopt that adage here and say it takes a village to produce a writer. The writer practices their craft in isolation. But to enable a writer to practice their craft to the best of their ability, and to see it published takes a whole community. A community made up of other instructors, other writers, editors, agents, publishers and, lastly, the most important of all, the readers.
Let’s start with instructors. I had not taken any creative writing courses until my third year at university. I briefly considered a double major, so I took the prerequisite introductory writing class at the University of Victoria. Ultimately, I decided not to pursue a double major, but I did learn some valuable writing basics.
Next, I would say, fellow writers are the ones that are kind of like your parents. They are there from the beginning, and are ever-ready encouragers and constantly challenging me to be better and step out to be bolder and bolder. When I decided to get serious about my writing, I called a friend who had also expressed a desire to do some more writing and asked her if she wanted to meet on a regular basis. She did, and we’ve been meeting every Sunday for the last two and a half years. A year ago another friend joined our ranks, and last year someone I met while interviewing for my novel and she too has now joined our ranks. I cannot say enough how this weekly get together sustains me. We are all at different stages in our writing journey, but despite that, we are a constant source of encouragement and friendship.
At this point in my writing career, I have not had any direct experience with editors, agents or publishers. I can say, from my limited exposure at writing conference workshops and table discussions, they want writers to put the best work out there because, in the long run, it benefits all concerned. Now, I am not saying that there aren’t any bad apples in the basket; I have heard some stories from both sides about working relationships in the publishing industry. But, when it comes down to it, this is your business, and you have to do the best you can to protect yourself and your work. And that means making sure you do your homework and find the best option for you and your work.
There are some days I’m all in favour of finding agency representation for my work and then other days I am considering taking on the huge task of self-publishing. Today, I am just trying to focus on the writing and then, when I’m ready, figure out the publishing options available to me.
And that leaves us with the readers. As a reader myself, I can say when I find a writer that I like, I tend to read as much of that author that I can get my hands on, when money and time for reading allows.
When you’re a beginning writer like I am, hoping to one day be published and gain a readership is the ultimate goal. But how does a newbie at the writing game (like me) gain a readership, when I don’t have a book published yet?
1. Start a blog – it can be a stand-alone blog or part of a website (like mine is). I think the main purpose of the blog is to start a conversation between the writer and the reader. If a writer shares from the heart, no matter what they choose to blog about, a reader will get to know them, and hopefully be interested in following the writer’s journey.
2. Have a Newsletter/Subscribers list – there will be people who, after reading the blog for a while, want more from the writer. The next step is for the reader is to sign up for the Newsletter. This is where the connection between writer and reader becomes a bit more personal. A reader will get insider access. Access to the first look at books, contests, and stories written for only the subscribers.
3. Become part of a writing community. Writers are readers, and you might just find other writers interested in your work, and they will want to read it.
It all comes down to finding the readers who are interested in what you have to say, the stories you tell and how you tell them. Even if they aren’t interested in your particular writing genre or style, they might know someone who is and will get the word out.
Life is a journey, writing is a journey, becoming a published author is a journey, and it all takes a village to not just survive but to flourish.