Since high school, when I realized that writing could actually be a thing I could do for life, I've been reading craft books. Books on how to improve my writing skills with developing plot, character, structure, theme... you get the idea. Yes, I'm THAT writer who has nearly the entire Writer's Digest library sitting on her shelves. I inhale new knowledge about writing in nearly every form I can get my hands on. I seek out experts from The Great Courses when I feel like I need a "PhD level" exposure, and the For Dummies books when I want to remind myself that I'm progressing with my chosen preoccupation with maybe a little bit more ability than some others. (Everyone needs a little ego boost now and again.) I also seek to read everything in between that sounds even a smidge insightful or helpful. As we all know, a collection of smidges of different ingredients is how chocolate brownies are made, and that means a smidge of anything can always be helpful. Each foray into this exploration of "How Others Do It," I learn, I adapt, and I improve. Continuing to learn about my craft is always time well spent for me.
Recently, as I've been working on republishing my backlist, I've been focusing more attention to the business side of my craft. I've always believed that if I treat my writing as a hobby, it'll only ever make me happy. Yes, that's enough for some, but I've always wanted more. So, it stands to reason that if I treat my writing as a business, I have the possibility of reaching many others, and perhaps bringing a little more joy to their lives, too. I know I'm not smart enough to figure it all out on my own... so I seek out the advice and experience from others who have "been there, done that." There are a host of books on my shelves on these topics, as well. You almost need to have a split personality, I think, to make it in the book world... and so study requires both sides of the brain... wacky and logical... working in concert together.
Since relenting to accepting my tablet a one of my "tools for daily living" about five years ago, I've been investing in "career learning" materials electronically, simply because of the ease of bookmarking and using the imbedded links. I wish all my college texts were electronic, so I could not only store them easily, but refer back to the individual passages I need as refreshers more quickly. Technology can be a grand thing.
Although, I still love holding a real live book in my hands when I want a fictional escape... for me, there's nothing better. The smell of those new, freshly printed pages... But I'm beginning to ramble off topic... Focus.
I read two books over the past few weeks that talked about the marketing side of the writing life. The first was "Why Authors Fail" by Derek Doepker. I'd never heard of this author before. Primarily, he writes books in the niches of fitness and diet, so it's no wonder why his name was unfamiliar. These are not titles I read, much. But he's been wonderfully successful, and has written a few other book on how he did it. He wrote a book about how he leveraged Kindle and produced great sales. So there's that.
I admit, the title of this book caught me, and I'm a sucker for any book cover that has a typewriter on it - so clearly, he understands how to write a hook and design a cover. But in all honesty, I only read this book because it was offered to me for free, via a Facebook ad. Yup, I bit. I'm one of those people. It's a free ebook, it doesn't cost me anything to get it, and reading, no matter what the subject matter, I've always believed, is good for my soul. So, while getting miles in on the exercise bike, I read it over two days. It's not a long or difficult book.
There were some interesting things included in the pages; reaffirmations that my business brain needed to hear, but no real new information. Most frustratingly, there were no actionable passages in this book. It's a very "top-level" overview, and for people who've never studied this part of the writing world, important to get... but for me, it was a refresher. This book was really more of a sales pitch for the author's coaching/mentoring business than it was a helpful resource. But it was free, so yeah. The refresher was nice, and it did help to pass the time while exercising, but it's not something I would recommend... simply because of a lack of forward momentum. If I'm going to read a book to learn something... and the word "why" in the title implies that I will actually learn something... I'd like my time to be well-spent. I could have spent my time better elsewhere. Kudos to Mr. Doepker for all his personal success with his writing career, but this book was not a tremendous benefit to me.
The second book I read was "Strangers To Superfans" by David Gaughran. Author friend, Kate McNeil recommended this author to me, and I'm pleased that she did. This was far more interesting, and helpful. A book that focuses on how to build your fan base, keep your fan base, and reward your fan base as you build your career with integrity and an authentic approach... I found this a much better read, all the way around. Some of this was a refresher to me, but some of it was also a new perspective on becoming more accessible and placing the right emphasis on the puzzle pieces to your writing career through a conscious marketing strategy. It was about a 50/50 split.
I've always been a fan of strategies, processes, and actionable opportunities, and this book has lots to share. Mr. Gaughran gave me a greater understanding of how to market to my readers, specific to how I want to design my career. Although his suggestions and strategies could be applied to writers in nearly every genre... he made it easy to understand his formulas and then mentally insert my books and my designs for my career into his processes. This book felt like it was far more relevant to what I want to do with my writing, and far less "sales-pitchy". Also, the comfortable, easy style with which he writes makes the material feel more like having a conversation than studying the business of marketing my writing. I felt I retained more because it was entertaining to read. I bought the ebook, and enjoyed the quick read format. This is certainly a book that I would recommend to Indie Authors looking to broaden their marketing reach in small, attainable steps that will deliver consistent results if consistent attention is a key focus.
As with anything that requires effort, learning and mastering the marketing of my writing career will continue to take time. I will seek out new resources as I move along this journey, putting into motion those things that I can manage, financially and energetically; and letting go of the rest. As it is in life, so it is in business. The point to remember, is to never stop seeking out new and different perspectives as I work to solve an ever-evolving problem.
There are no magic beans... the solutions will ebb and flow just as the reading environment does, and I need to stay fluid in that motion if I am to enjoy the ride.
I was overwhelmed reading this book... not because it was difficult material (which it was), and not because the complexity of the relationships and internal dialogue of the characters was so intensely emotional (which it also was), but because everything written in this story is REAL LIFE. Confronting that can sometimes be overwhelming... and I've never been happier for the experience.
D.A. Reed has created a masterpiece of Young Adult fiction with this story. From the complexity of teenage angst to the thoughts, speech patterns, and body language of teenagers, to the adult interactions... this author got it all right. As a person who has been touched by teen suicide in both my generation and my son's generation, I cannot endorse this book enough. It is poignant, it is accurate, it is raw, it is unsettling, it is tender, it is difficult, and it is necessary.
This story channels the day-to-day experiences of teenagers in a way that feels a little like voyeurism; and if that thought doesn't frighten you just a little bit, it should. The bravery these characters show reminds us that everything is worth healing when we take the time to talk and listen. The resources and discussion questions in the back of the book encourage this dialogue between friends, families, and teachers.
This is a book that should be on a bookshelf in a central part of every family home, and in every classroom. It should be a part of every educator's and religious leader's continuing education program. I am certain that all who read it will be touched and motivated to help others in some empathetic way.
When you are given the gift of seeing teen suicide from the inside, you can't help but become changed. Thank you, D.A. Reed, for giving us this profound insight into a world we must not ignore.
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