Awards, Blogs and Careers. But not in that order.
The other night on an Agent Query chat, a few of us discussed the ins and outs of writing across genres. It has been stated that the genre an author first publishes in is the genre that sets the tone for her writing career.
For instance, if Author A pubs a paranormal romance, she will be expected to write more paranormal romance stories by her agent, editor and her fan base.
Likewise, the size of the publishing house and an author’s success rate on their debut novel creates a certain career path that can be difficult to break out of. Say Author B pubs with Small Press X. He will typically remain with Small Press X, or similar sized presses, throughout his career. Unless he has a surprise best seller. In which case, he may choose to seek a contract with Big Press Z. A disasterous first print can relegate a writer to Small Presses or No Presses for life.
Mainly, this has to do with marketability and saleability. Readers buy what they know (Author A), while publishers stick with what works (Author B). This is the business part of writing that writers often fail to consider when submitting their manuscripts.
Before submitting that whimsical, one-shot-wonder of a manuscript to random agents/editors, it is imperative that we take a solid look at our dreams career in the writing field.
Questions to ask: do I want to write manga until I die? Do I even like the agent I am submitting to? How respectable is the publishing house within the overall publishing climate? Does it matter?
If you decided that you truly wish to make a career out of writing instead of getting that one memoir off your chest, marketability becomes an issue for your future. Some of the ways writers can promote themselves are through online communities, websites and blogs.
Mary Kole posted a great blurb about this on her blog. While she is an agent of juvenile literature, her blog is timely and pertinent to all writers who wish to succeed. Her post is a gentle reminder about making ourselves accessible and interesting to our potential fan base, as well as the agents who may check up on us prior to offering a deal.
Questions to ask: who is my target audience? What do I offer my readership in return for their loyalty? Do I present myself accurately and honestly to my readers, yet provide them with something besides me, me, me?
These questions have no right or wrong answers–as long as we accomplish our goals.
For instance, I write my blog to document my journey as a writer, as well as to provide other writers with information on the process as a whole. By definition, this makes my audience predominantly other writers, as well as those whose professions revovle around the written word. While I try to be extremely honest (see my sidebar on integrity), I sometimes find myself stretching the truth in favor of making my writing interesting and humorous. I also try to connect me as a person with the writing industry.
Do I succeed? I hope so. Which brings me to the A in the title of this post. Awards.
Over my blogging career, I have recieved a few awards from my fellow bloggers. Most recently, Roz Morris passed along The Sunshine Award (also given to me by Michelle on her blog in January) and The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award. In early February, TK over at My Writing Masquerade named me in her Over the Top award. This proceeded my Superior Scribbler Award in January from Yvonne Osborne.
These awards mean a lot to me. They are given by my fellow bloggers and cyber friends. Each award has a special significance attached to it and is passed on to acknowledge fellow bloggers for their spirit, inspiration and/or productivitity. I thank Roz, Michelle, TK and Yvonne for thinking of me.
Yet I don’t want my non-award-giving readers to think I only appreciate cyber awards. Rather, I have a deep gratitude for those who read my blog faithfully, yet quietly. I know there are some subscribers who read every word I write, but never leave a comment. I love that you are there, lending your support.
I also adore my commenters. Nothing warms my heart more than logging on and finding a response to something I wrote. Whether you’ve left one comment or 100 comments, thank you for taking the time to do so. You are amazing.
And lastly, there are my sometimes readers, those who pop in when the weather is too cold to go outside or those who inadvertantly stumble over my blog while searching for something like snowshoeing in South Africa. You, too, get a personal thank you. I hope that something you read makes you want to come back for more.
Rightly or wrongly, I think of my blog as a way to connect to a community. My community is comprised of writers, knitters, gardeners, educators, parents, avid readers, strangers and friends. Some blog, some don’t. Yet you all have a place in my heart.
I hope someday you will be able to find my books on the bookshelf. I even hope some of you buy them. However, my blog is not a marketing tool. It is my journey–of which you are all a part of.
Why do you blog? Who is your target audience and why? Which kind of blogs do you read and why?