My output of stories has been prolific over the past months. Clearly, a world-record series of lockdowns here in Victoria has been good for something!
However, ‘Write it and they will come’ isn’t proving to be a sensible way of getting my writing to readers.
I ruefully recognise that I only started reading some of my favourite contemporary authors after an obituary in the media. That’s a little long-term for this writer. I’d rather be read alive than dead.
So, how to get eyes on pages?
Here are some thoughts:
Read, if I want to be read
Invest time in reading other emerging or trying-to-emerge writers. We’re here because we want to write, and be read – right?
I mostly engage with other writers on Medium, because there’s a cosy feeling of community there.
Join a writers group
I had mixed feelings about this, because, let’s face it, writers are about as sociable as cats, and I’m a prime example.
I’ve joined the Geelong Writers Group, but I’m a little afraid that attending meetings might involve sitting in a crowded café with a bunch of other weirdos and curmudgeons, listening to some guy with thick glasses mumble whole chapters from his latest bonkbuster.
I’m probably being pessimistic here. The only other member I actually know is quirky, clever and fun, rather than weird, and one of my banjo students. (Okay, so maybe just a bit weird, then.) She has lots of scurrilous musician tales to tell.
There are so many competitions out there, run by writers’ groups, literary magazines, book publishers, online writing platforms.
Hell, why not be as promiscuous as possible? Even if I get only long-listed, that’s still something to put in my blurbs.
Put the same story on more than one site
Why should I let stories languish in the archives? It’s not like they have a sell-by date. Dust ’em off and put them out again! Get more reads! Write on all the things!
Organise my social media
I want to spend my days telling stories, not fluttering around Twitter, pootling on Pinterest or fiddling on Facebook, so my social media promotion needs to be streamlined and low maintenance. Here’s the current situation:
- New fiction goes on Medium first.
- Longer fiction comes to this site after a month or two on Medium.
- Shorter fiction and non-fiction come to this site AND Vocal Media.
- The Steve Fendt Facebook page connects my real-world friends to my fiction writing. Without annoying those real-world friends who aren’t remotely interested in my writing – and strangely, they do exist – with daily status updates on my personal Facebook.
It also offers a space where my followers from Medium can connect with me in a more personal way, whilst allowing me to firewall my personal Facebook.
All the above is the easy stuff. Now comes the harder, longer-term stuff:
Pursue conventional publishing options
I’m at the beginnings of the research stage here. Despite 30 years in educational publishing, I really don’t know a damn thing about how fiction publishing works. I do know I could waste a lot of time with the wrong approach.
This is an area where I need professional advice, and that is going to involve $$$. If it’s good advice, it will also be brutally honest. Am I ready to hear it?
There are more options for getting into print than ever before, and self-publishing can no longer be dismissed as a form of ‘vanity publishing’.
As a publishing professional, I hesitate to rush in here, because I know just how much teamwork is normally involved in getting a manuscript into print, how important the editorial, design and marketing processes are, and how much the input of other professionals adds to the quality of the finished work and its success in the market.
I have the skill set to do all of this myself, but that doesn’t mean that I should.