What does hunting and fishing have to do with being a writer? More than you might imagine. If you think you’re exempt from needing these skills, you may find you’re going to need a bigger boat, so to speak.
After placing well in a writing contest, I was approached by several people who wanted the same thing. They resembled eager, wide-eyed hunters, sure that there was a sportsmen’s paradise within reach, if they could just locate the geographic coordinates. The questions have been pretty standard. How do I get started? What should I write about? How do you get an agent? How do you get published? But the most interesting question so far has been how do you find the courage to put your work out there? This question was from a woman (we’ll call her Nancy) who had already written an entire series of books, but lacked the confidence to move forward. She was stuck.
In addition to being a strong writer, Nancy had an impressive graphic arts background and was perfectly capable of designing the entire book herself. She had all the tools she needed and then some – but not the confidence. It’s a common dilemma. Many writers are introverted and sensitive to criticism. They may have much better work in their garage than most of what is available, but we’ll never hear about it because they are unwilling to send up a smoke signal and let us know where to find them.
Not everyone is going to love our work, and we don’t need everyone to love our work. We just need to find our audiences. Fishing with good bait obviously helps exponentially. Nancy came to peace with the fact that she was going to have to learn to. She then accepted the fact that although she didn’t think her book was good enough, it was certainly better than some of the other books out there. If those books could get published, then why not hers?
Next, we tackled the business about marketing and promotion. Nancy realized that she would not have to just catch the fish, but cook it, clean it and perhaps even serve it as well. The author is expected to do a great deal of their own marketing. Thecan’t do it all for us; they have other authors they need to promote. No one has as much of a vested interest in our success as we do.
Nancy was horrified to learn that she would probably need a website with her name and picture on it, and she might even have to speak about her book in front of people. The most uncomfortable concept for her by far was that she would have to ‘sell’ her work. But she figured out that it doesn’t feel like ‘selling’ if you are simply providing a service or commodity and increasing awareness for people who really want your product. Blogging and tweeting and self-promoting are awkward concepts for most of us. However, unless you have staff to hunt and fish on your behalf, there aren’t too many other options.
Nancy still isn’t crazy about all the hunting and fishing she has ahead of her, but she is committed to surviving as a writer. She has started working on herand finding books on how to overcome her shyness. She’s bravely entering Territory and looking for a spot to set up camp. Best of all, she is no longer stuck and is actively pursuing her own hunting and fishing sportsman’s paradise.
Have you caught any tasty fish lately? How are your hunting skills? Figuratively, of course, but if you want to share some literal experiences, that’s okay, too.