Pity the writer

Mama, don’t let your children grow up to be writers.

Okay, you can’t prevent them from expressing themselves — nor would you want to — but season their enthusiasm with a dose of reality. As visions of Stephen King, James Patterson or E.L. James dance through their head, remind them of  Tarrah Anders, Alex Ashe or … Joe Siccardi. The struggle is real.

I will admit, being on that latter list, the high road is to say we’re not in it for the bucks. We had a story to tell … and we told it … and shared it … for better or worse. But the truth is, once you make that commitment, your life changes, especially as your author rank languishes in seven digits. You start doing things you never thought you would do — market yourself. You start looking at SEO numbers, analytics, building networks. And you find yourself slipping further and further from what makes you happy — telling stories. That extra time on Twitter, with Facebook groups and visiting Pinterest (with the inevitable detours) all take time away from your first love.

It’s tough waking up at 2:17 a.m. because a thought crossed your mind. It’s a job in itself trying to get those random ideas down on paper {or computer screen} then remember where you put the scraps {I have notes scribbled on the back of envelopes and in sometimes undecipherable word in my phone memo file}. But that’s what we do.

I don’t understand analytics or logarithms. I do understand connections and recognize that relationship comes one person at a time. Readers have to trust you enough to come back — whether that’s in a blog post, a social media message or through a book. But truth is, one person at a time takes a loooong time.

I’ve actually been fortunate. This blog has exploded to over 1,000 followers over the past six years. I have over 300 friends on Facebook, most fairly active with interaction, and close to 300 on Twitter.

And yet book sales for Heaven Shining Through and Wisdom From a Father are slow {actually, marketing execs have said the books are doing well for a first time author’s first time out}.

There’s the rub. Pre-publishing, I never THOUGHT about marketing. I wasn’t interested in sales effort, figuring that would take care of itself. Now that ink has hit paper, all I seem to do is THINK about marketing — joining the right writer’s groups, following and supporting like-minded authors, seeking reviews, selling myself.

Getting reviews has been an interesting exercise. I’m sort of in uncharted territory. Writing under the “Christian” genre itself is challenging. There are tons of erotica, science fiction, paranormal, young adult and mystery reviewers around, most of whom have no use for manuscripts with a Christian message. There are also quite a few Christian reviewers around, but they tend to be more on the letter of the moral law side.

When requesting reviews for my novella Heaven Shining Through, for example, to Christian reviewers, I have to add a disclaimer, “Samantha (the lead) is strong willed and had a lot of dates, leading to some confrontations with her mother. She was equally strong in her resolve to remain pure. There is a scene when she and her boyfriend make love; however, the focus is the aftermath — the remorse, the regret by both Samantha and Chad. They do get married and live a rewarding, faith filled life. It was that faith I was trying to promote in the book. No matter what, God loves us and forgives us. Honestly, the book was not intended to be a ‘Christian’ novel, but a novel everyone could enjoy without an overt Christian message. I intentionally did not want to preach to the choir. This is a story of reconciliation and self-awareness. And it does deal with the sometimes messiness of life.”

That has disqualified it from some Christian reviews. One reviewer stopped reading half way through because of “swearing” {??}; another felt it didn’t “preach the real gospel of reconciliation”; another feels compelled to deduct stars and warn about language, lying, bad attitudes/behavior, dying/killing, violence/fighting, romance (no kissing or hugging, possibly holding hands depending on the situation, definitely no bedroom-related scenes, and if there are only slight mentions to feelings/related things like that, I’m able to get along with it. Anything more than that [such as dialogue] and I will definitely warn about it.), rape/related scenes, intense scenes, superstition/spiritual things, drugs/smoking/drinking.

I understand the concern. Some Christian reviewers stake their credibility on the jot and tittle details of the Gospel. And I certainly wouldn’t to compromise their standards. The irony is, pastors who have read and responded through reviews recognize the messiness of life. Overall, it has a 4.1 star rating.

Wisdom From a Father is just starting to get reviews and currently has a 5.0 star rating.

So, mamas, please don’t let your children grow up to be writers.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Don’t let people intimidate you and don’t be intimidating to others.

 

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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