Why I Sometimes Don’t Want to Tell People I’m a Writer

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Imagine this scenario:

“Hi, I’m Rachel.”
“Hi, Rachel. I’m John. What do you do?”
“I’m a receptionist.”
“So you just sit around talking on the phone all day?”
“It’s a bit more involved than that.”
“Where do you work?”
“At a small family company.”
“Oh. That’s a shame. Any chance you might be able to move on to a big corporate?”
“I’m happy where I am.”
“Are you a good receptionist?”
“I haven’t been asked to do it differently so I guess I am.”
“How many calls do you take a day?”
“Um, well, I’m not sure…”
“How much do you earn?”
“That’s not really any of your business.”
“But how will I know for sure if you’re a good receptionist?”
“Call the main switch and I’ll make sure I transfer you to the right person.”
“But that won’t tell me if others think you’re a good receptionist.”
“I like what I do. I don’t really care if others think I’m a good receptionist. And I really don’t care what you think.”
“That’s a pretty poor attitude for a receptionist to have.”
“Stop talking to me.”

Okay, so it seems like John is a special kind of asshat. But imagine now an almost identical conversation with just a couple of small changes: Continue reading

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The Choice Not to Publish

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You came up with a great idea, you worked hard to punch our chapter after chapter, you agonised over the ending, you reworked and rewrote and edited it, you paid for a manuscript assessment, you reworked and rewrote and edited it again, you asked your family and friends for feedback, then reworked and rewrote and edited it a few more times. The final step is to publish… so why might you choose not to go ahead and do it?

These days anyone can publish – self-publishing has seen to that. A monkey might not yet be able to write the complete works of Shakespeare but self-publishing is so easy I’m convinced the monkey would be able to self-publish them. So it’s not a matter of not being able to. It’s a matter of whether you should. It’s a hard decision because it requires as much objectivity as you can muster and absolute honesty. And that’s because the simple fact that something creative exists is not a good enough reason for it be released to the general public. Continue reading

How readers choose what to read

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There are so many books to choose from that sometimes readers can be overwhelmed by the choice. So how do they end up making their decisions?

There are a number of factors and individual readers will rely on a unique combination of each. As writers, having an awareness of these factors may help us as we attempt to write and market our books. Continue reading

The Review From The Top: Should Published Writers Post Book Reviews?

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“Don’t write reviews. Ever. That’s the work of specialist critics. Do what you do well – i.e. fiction writing – and stick to it. I mean, really, you want to review your friends and enemies in broadsheet newspapers???”
Novelist James Phelan (from jamesphelan.com.au/faq/)

“Reviewing is an important investment in my professional profile. I appreciate that people are time poor and even the most avid readers have a limited amount of time. Before a reader commits to purchasing my book, reviews ranging from 250-500 words are examples of my writing.”
Novelist Lynette McClenaghan (from “Staying Connected” in Issue 9, 2015 of The Victorian Writer)

For writers still learning the craft and the trade, it’s easy sometimes to become confused. Two diametrically opposed and conflicting pieces of advice from published authors like the ones above can be part of the reason why. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with this blog will know I post book reviews every Monday, so it’s clear which side of the divide I fall on. But does that make me (and Lynette) right? Continue reading