Last Friday I hopped on a train and attended the Writers’ Day run by the Leicester Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, fabulously organised by Lizzie Lamb at the Belmont Hotel, Leicester.
What a great day, filled with fascinating talks, mainly about the business side of being a writer. And nobody could miss the fact that there were all kinds of writers participating.
Traditionally published, ie by a publisher
Part of an author co-operative
Hybrid, ie traditionally published and self-published
I appear under six of the above headings: traditionally published, agented, in print, digital, self-published and hybrid. I have also been non-agented, so I guess the only heading I’ve never appeared under is part of an author co-operative.
What we had in common was the desire to do better than we were already doing, no matter how well we were doing already. The subject of social media came up in almost every session, even when it wasn’t actually the title of the talk. We were all interested in sharing knowledge, every speaker was questioned exhaustively, new ideas were greeted enthusiastically. We were helping ourselves by helping each other.
During a coffee-break conversation, I chatted with Jean Fullerton, and we agreed how important it is each writer to find her or his own way. If you’re self-publishing, it should be because that’s what you see as the most suitable path for you. If you’re with a publisher and/or an agent, it should be a good publisher and/or agent for you, not just ANY publisher or agent because you really, really want one. As Jean said, ‘When you’re starting out, if a publisher or agent told you to paint your bum blue and stick it out the window, you would.’
Although I haven’t painted my bum blue or stuck it out of any windows, I’ve definitely gone down publishing routes that, in hindsight, weren’t the best for me or my work. Now, with the benefit of experience, I’m more cautious and clear thinking. I’m not afraid to turn opportunities down if I don’t think they’re right for me. I actively pursue opportunities that I do think are right for me. I sometimes make decisions that lose me money, but the decision is still the right one.
Instead of painting my bum blue, I’m painting the bigger picture.