Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What are you always writing?

“What are you always writing?”

I get asked this question a lot. About as much as people who ask me what my Alpha Smart is.

When I answer that I write books or romance novels, the next question is, “Are you published?” Usually I see it in their eyes that they expect a “no”. Maybe I don’t fit the image of a writer, at least not a published one. Or maybe they’ve met a lot of writers who are pre-published.

When I tell them yes, I get a number of different reactions. The one I just got was “Oh”, like she didn’t really believe me or take it seriously. This is usually when I whip out my business card and hand it to them. I suppose I should have but I didn’t this time. I think I’m going to have bookmarks made and pass them out instead of a business card with personal info. Of course that’s one more item to stuff into my purse and I have to get a container so they don’t get ruined. Bookmarks aren’t cheap, at least not ones that look professional.

The last two times I got this question my response was met with a lot more enthusiasm. One asked how many books I have published and the other asked me to teach her how to get published.

Other times the response has been, “I have a great idea for you. If you write it we’ll split the royalties 50-50.” Or “I’m going to write a book.”

I have to get over my shyness and wedge my foot into that open door and toot my horn. But I’m a writer not a talker. Now I know the best combination is to be both. My day job boss wonders how I can get tongue-tied but be able to write. There’s another writer at the day job who is even quieter than me and people have mused how she can be so good with the written word but not the spoken one. At least in my case, I’m not shy to say words in silence. By the time someone reads them I’ve had a chance to edit them until they’re perfect. Neither do I have to watch their reaction if I’ve flubbed up.

But I digress, or do I?

Once a writer becomes published, we’re suddenly thrust into the dual job of being a marketer. The more eloquent we are in the spoken word as well as the written word, the better the chance we have to succeed. At least IMHO.

Unfortunately, being pretty doesn’t count. Look at Sarah Palin. Once she opened her mouth she became a liability. Come on! Even my 13 year old knows Africa is a continent not a country.

My day job boss is big on scripts or as he calls them “talk tracts”. The more I think about this, the more I know I have to develop my own talk tracts to handle these situations even though it means stepping outside my comfort zone. Nobody else is going to sell your books but you. Not really. Not unless you have thousands of dollars to hire a good publicist (which I don’t – yet).

As a reader would you mind if a writer told you about her books if you met them unexpectedly?

As a writer, how do you handle these situations? Do you have any suggestions how to overcome shyness?

You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


Hope Wilbanks said...

I'm exactly the same as you. Most people call my "shy" because I'm quiet. But that's usually because when I try to make conversation, it flops. Yet, when I write I feel free to express myself.

As a reader, I would be thrilled if a writer I'd just met told me about her book! I think it would be fun to hear what a writer thinks of her own work. :)

As a writer, I would be very interested to hear what others have to say about overcoming shyness. I'm okay to talk about anything except my own writing. I still don't fit in my writing skin. But I sure would like to know how to overcome this. I have a feeling the only way is to just practice talking about your work over and over until eventually it becomes easier and more natural. :)

Molly Daniels said...

I'm also a writer, not a speaker! However, when asked about my books, I tend to run off at the mouth and end up boring people to death (lol). So I've developed a brief overview statement and if people want to know more, I tell them a little more. And apologize for being long-winded!

Yes, I love it when I meet other authors; it gives me a chance to learn about their work and their marketing efforts.

As for overcoming shyness...it's taken years. And I fake it. As I've said before, I'm great one-on-one, but throw me into a group where I don't know anyone and I'm petrified!

Shelley Munro said...

I'm quiet, too. We have to train ourselves to speak and take advantage of opportunities. I tell people I write erotic romance and explain what it is if they show interest, but some people are close-minded. I met a lady and she seemed interested but afterward, she went around telling people I wrote porn!! I was horrified since I do not write porn at all.

Sometimes you just can't win. :)

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

I walked around a mall with another writer this summer and was astounded at how good she is at marketing. She talked with people, really talked WITH them at every store we went in. She handed out bookmarks left and right to people who were genuinely interested.

I was dumbstruck. I go to that same mall all the time, and never manage more than polite hellos and thank yous. Sigh. I want to be kaenar when I grow up!

Anonymous said...

My favorite was when I went to the doctor's office. The nurse told me she always had plot ideas and had been wanting to write forever. She said her plots were far more complicated than CSI or Law and Order so I encouraged her to write it down, get those characters on paper. Her answer? Oh, do I need characters?


Unknown said...

OMG, Kelly. That's too funny. ROFLOL!!!

Unknown said...

Welcome, Hope.

It sounds like I'm in good company, being shy. We all have to work at it. I'm ten times better than as a teenager, but still...

Molly, sometimes I'm too shy to even fake it. Oi!

Unknown said...

Shelly - ouch!

There's a sweet lady where I write a lot and I think she forgets I told her I write erotic romance. Sometimes she goes on about porn and the spicy stuff.

Unknown said...


I didn't know you live near Kaener, or if I did, I forgot. I wish I had some TEB authors and other authors local to me. It sounds like a lot of you have such fun together in person.

Unknown said...

Well, I'm not the shy type but I also don't believe readers want to know every boring detail of writing - just give 'em basic facts and leave it up to them whether they want to know more

Anny Cook said...

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them. Then when they show curiosity, I answer the questions. Recently went to a new doctor. The asst was taking my info... noticed my Sony reader and commented on it, asked how I liked it. Anyway, my "occupation" came up in conversation.

Suddenly she's trotting out the door. Came right back with a gaggle of women from the office. They're all e-readers. So I handed out cards and autographs. Surreal...

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Kaenar lives a few hours away but has made the drive once each summer for booksignings for the last 2 years. She is AMAZING in person!

Hope Wilbanks said...

That's awesome Amy! :) (I'm dying for a Sony reader!!) I love it when those moments come unexpectedly...but it sounds like you're always prepared! :)

♥ Braja said...

Hey Ashley, found you on Black Box and am loving it :) Very interesting site; am also a writer, swing on by if you have a moment :)

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