By Thonie Hevron
What’s that mean? The term ‘Fans’ is clear: anyone who likes reading your books. ‘Flowers’ can mean accolades, awards, positive reviews, or any other “Yay” moment. Fans and flowers are two terrific benefits to publishing your work.
I chose this month’s topic because as writers, we so often go long periods of time without feedback about our work. Being writers means being alone—even if you write in a coffee shop, the story is in your head. It’s safe to say most writers would like to earn big money, but the sorry truth is most of us don’t. I would also bet that most of us write what we like to read. This means we write because the story drives us. It’s what we delight in—writing the worlds that are behind the blank stare in the grocery store check-out line. I cannot NOT write.
All the above being said, there are few moments in a writer’s life that bring that warm glow like someone telling us what a great job we’ve done. Having someone else recognize our efforts is gratifying. It’s not necessarily what keeps us going but a well-timed 5-star review can jump-start faltering inspiration. We don’t have to have accolades but they sure are nice!
Oddly, most award-winning authors don’t tell you about their prizes. Oh sure, honors and exceptional acknowledgements are posted on book covers, websites, business cards and promotional items. But face to face, no author I’ve met has shaken my hand and told me how wonderful he is. Most writers are modest introverts who do promo as a matter of necessity (usually kicking and screaming).
If an author has one fan he has an inherent responsibility. The author must fulfill the fan’s expectations with every book. That means writing the next story—and writing it well–better even.
I’ll never forget the first time I overheard a conversation between two women who had read my books. One posited that “Meredith would understand given her background.” The other proposed that Meredith’s childhood ghosts might get the better of her.
Talk about a warm glow! I loved that readers came to know my characters well enough to talk about them like they were friends. I felt I’d done my job—brought the story from my head and into readers’ minds.
To do this, did I abandon my muse and write to market? Yes and no. I wrote my story, but I did my research to figure its marketability. It’s a stroll on a tightrope, for sure. I looked over market trends, attended author events (soliciting attendees critiques) and conferences, even perused a forum or two. I also read reviews of books I felt were similar to mine.
In the end, I hope to listen to those readers who comment (yay or nay—and why) and continue my balancing act. Thanks for indulging me.
Join Writer’s Notes on May 11th for Joanell Serra’s take on “The First 100 Books Sold,” celebrating May’s theme of Fans and Flowers. On May 18th, read Becky Clark’s observations after returning from a mystery fan convention; she’ll talk about what it’s like from both sides of the book signing table. Finishing up the month, Ally Shields shares how “Fans are the Heart of the Writer’s Life.”
And don’t forget to check in on Sundays for stories behind the badge. Read about how different eras of law enforcement (specifically LAPD) survived day to day business. These guys are the real deal, not celluloid cops.