Do you have a “writer’s tool kit?” If not, I’m offering a giveaway of a pink tool kit from Lowes and several Writers’ craft books to one of the writers who comments on this post and an e-copy of my Christmas novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, so read on ...
If you’ve been reading Seekerville for very long, then you’ve been building and stocking your own writer’s tool kit. And craft books are also valuable additions to a kit, such as Julie’s wonderful paperback Romanceology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets.
I thought I’d add some additional elements to include in your kit, as you continue on your journey in writing Christian fiction. I recently posted a blog on ACFW about cross promotion, but I also touched on reciprocity. So I’m going to address social relationships a little bit for your tool kit.
Social Relationships for Your Writing Toolkit:
1) Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. The Golden Rule has a big place in your tool kit. That means if you want people to promote you and your books (or blogs), you need to similarly return the favor. Think about it—if you continued to ask people to dinner at your house and they never returned the invitation, would you continue? No, of course not—because they’d be taking advantage of you and your good graces. Some folks may need a gentle reminder. But just like in today’s social milieu, you’ll find people who are only interested in what you can do for them with not even the slightest inkling that they would even consider doing anything for you. My observation—such authors often lose their audience because this disregard for others often shows itself in an author’s writing voice.
2) Be a good guest when you do visit blogs, Facebook parties, etc. Say something kind. Snarky doesn’t have a place in the social business world of writing. While you may enjoy that type of humor, it is not appropriate in a writing venue with readers or, in my opinion, other writers’ groups. Remember that what you say and do online will be around to haunt you for a long while afterwards. Do you really want your 28-year-old snarky comments to follow you ten years later when people are Googling your early books?
3) Be a good host when you have online events. Show up. If you’re part of a group and you committed to being there, make sure you’ve marked your calendar. Engage with your readers. Take the time to comment back individually if possible. This is linked to another important asset in your toolkit—engage with other authors and link up in groups. Participate in a group blog if you can.
4) Know yourself. #2 and #3 above might be a moot point if you know that the only social interaction you want with readers is face-to-face at book signings and you don’t want to deal with computers and today’s social media. But you’d better know your readers, too! If they all hang out on Twitter and Facebook and never at Barnes and Nobles where your book signings are, well…
5) Engage with those who have supported and encouraged you even when there isn’t any goal in mind at present. For instance, if you have a great reviewer or beta reader but have no book for them to read at present, don’t just go silent on them. Check in. Most people who do you the favor of engaging in these activities are inundated with requests. Why should they give you the time of day when you vanish for months on end? Be considerate of others and their time. And yes, I do know there are some dedicated readers/reviewers whose sole desire is to get your book and read it without ever having any contact with you. But those are the rare reviewers these days.
6) Do you like people? This is a valuable asset in your toolkit. If you love God’s people, you’re going to want to bless others, reciprocate, spend time with readers, engage online, and follow up with others. And if you don’t really have that love in your heart and want to do these things—don’t give the excuse that you “need to be in the writing cave” if it is more about not being around others socially. Pray for God to stretch your heart so you won’t want to make that excuse, but use it only when it is indeed critical (as in #7). I recently heard Jeanne Wynn talk about doing what works for you, but you’ll also find certain venues are less reader-engaged than others.
7) About that being in the writer’s cave—it has to happen. There has to be a balance. Readers realize an author simply can’t get their writing done, and hence more books out for them to read, if s/he isn’t spending time writing. Let your social network know what you’re working on and how long you’ll be out of the loop so they can watch for your return. Kind of like having those signs on an office door that say “be back after lunch” only ours are “be back after spending hours and hours writing” or editing!
QUESTION: Of all these suggestions for the social part of your toolkit is there anything in particular that resonates with you? Is there something you’ve done that has blessed your socks off? Readers (not writers) do you agree with my suggestions? Leave a comment and you're entered to win a very cool writer's tool kit and an ecopy of The Fruitcake Challenge.
THE FRUITCAKE CHALLENGE:I had the pleasure of reading Carrie's Christmas novella, The Fruitcake Challenge (only 99 cents, people!) and LOVED it! Here's my review:
The Perfect Recipe for Love! When it comes to cooking up delectable romance, Carrie Fancett Pagels is quickly becoming a chef extraordinaire in the Christian market, and her latest “dish”—The Fruitcake Challenge—is downright delicious! With a plot as fresh as the fruitcakes baked by the ladies of the Christy logging camp, romance is in the air when a handsome new logger dares the camp’s pretty cook to “bake a fruitcake like my mother’s, and I’ll propose.” Toss in a hint of mischief and a whole lot of sass, and the challenge is on! And so is the fun with a delightful Christmas story so sweet, you’ll be savoring it long after the last bite.
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. “Hearts Overcoming Through Time,” is an award-winning Christian historical romance author. Carrie’s Amazon Christian Historical Romance bestselling novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, released September, 2014. Her short story, “Snowed In,” appears in Guidepost Books’ A Christmas Cup of Cheer (2013). She’s the Amazon best-selling and top-rated author of Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (2013). Her short story, “The Quilting Contest,” appears in Family Fiction’s The Story 2014 anthology. Carrie received Honorable Mention for the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence for her unpublished novel Grand Exposé. Former psychologist (25 years) and mother of two.