rambling about authorship sailing around

Well, heavens. ARLENE had to go and make me think about another subject. Sheesh.

She's pre-published and has a plan. You can read part of it in the comments section here. I hope she comes back and tells us what else she's considered for her published career. It seems worth thinking about.

Probably too late for me.

I've been a writer for-flipping-ever, an author for a bit more than a year. I didn't plan on making any changes when I published and I have never, ever felt like an Author. Okay, maybe when I went to a booksigning for the first time. But now when I sign those books, it's odd, because they don't even feel like mine anymore.

I remember asking Edith Layton (God, I love that woman. Her writing's great too.) about a character in a book and she just gave me a puzzled look. She'd left those characters behind. I, a member of her reading public, still connected them to her, but she'd let them drift away from her.

I and my books are not connected to one another except when I'm working on them. The rest of the time, I'm Kate: Citizen, Slob and Mother, and they're just at the back of my brain and on the computer.

For months after The Call, I floated around on the ceiling and thought about being author. I worried ENDLESSLY about how my books would be received gawd, I worried about EVERYTHING. But now...I'm back to just being a writer again.

I've sold two more books since then, and selling's still a high, and so's getting a fan letter. But the rest of those initial amazing, strong sensations are just about gone. There are advantages to this. It means I can focus on the books and characters and not worry (and believe me, it is a worry) about the rest of it. I suppose when I get my first real drubbing in a public review--Candy?--the authorship will come home to roost again.

The disadvantages? This blog could be considered one. I forget that there are books out there whose sales might be connected to me. I wish people who were turned off by my ranting would tell me about it so I could start to keep track.

I really have been a writer for a long-ass time. Back in my old hometown, a fair number of people knew my name and face because I'd written hundreds of articles--it should be mentioned that those articles were not escapist fiction. (Some might have been, but never mind that.) I actually did avoid going out in sweats and teeshirts with holes because I was bordering on the very edge of possibly being something similar to a public citizen. But that whole time I was a writer NOT an author.

Now that I write HEA books--which I love to read, love to write-- this is a whole new ballgame.

So well? Ought you make sure your public persona is part of that world you create? I'm thinking either that or create a good fiction of a persona (new name etc) to fit role of author. It's not so much a matter of Owing Your Public, it's well.........ummmmmmmm..........making more money.

Selling more books!

Does a more glamorous, commercial (and less of an OUT THERE in YOUR FACE with strong OPINIONS that have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BOOKS blah blah blah) author sell more? Or is it just a matter of having written a Good Book and having a good marketing plan (that may or may not involve the author)? I wonder if anyone's managed to test the waters as both--a more glamorous image and a Regular Ranting Person--and if they can see which persona works better.

Comments

  1. Ha! That presupposes people are reading my blog or visiting Tropical Times. No one reads my blog and everyone going to Tropical Times is just there for the pictures.

    Thus, I have no public persona. It's just me, the cats and the dust bunnies in my head-fame. ;-)

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  2. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy your ranting? I really do. I should leave comments more often.

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  3. I dunno. The comments I read from the ones who are turned off by me seem to be because I came into their sphere and I'm black and I talk about a huge facet of my reality, my race.

    They don't seem to really pay attention to my message (race is too big a deal, nobody is that different) but merely get outraged at the idea of a black person mentioning race.

    I have to believe that these people wouldn't care for any black romance writer short of a Condi Rice sort who denies their blackness.

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  4. Yeah Ferfe, that's probably why I don't think about the rantage. I'm talking to myself. I used to worry about blog numbers but naw...

    BTW, I visited your place before blogdom became common. I loved your RT articles!!!

    Monica, it's a tough balance isn't it? For some reason I have a harder time getting publicly angry about issues that affect me directly.

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  5. Kate,
    First off, I love your rants - sorta like listening to myself somedays! And in my opinion that is exactly a good purpose for a blog. I mean where the hell else do you get to say exactly what you want to say without having to hold back or censor it somehow?

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you ask about a public persona. I believe it is possible to create an honest persona without revealing too much. But like I've said before, I think it gets tricky when you link to personal blogs. Although some authors do it quite successfully. Jennie Crusie comes to mind. If you study her blog she infuses her personality into her entries but she still keeps it focused on her writing which is what she is selling.

    Regrettably, I think more and more people buy things - books, clothes, the presidency - based on the image rather than the substance. Marketing is sooo dialed in now. Check out a post I wrote on this very topic at my blog (it's the February 16,2005 entry - for some reason I'm not able to post the link to the page so you'd have to go to my archives to see it. Sorry.)

    I struggle a lot with offshoots of this issue and I think in the end I always find myself dissappointed at the notion that I have to "spin" my personality a certain way in order for it to be pleasant for the average person. But why should that surprise me? I mean half of the people on the planet just don't want to rock the boat about anything, so when you take a position on something it is easy to get branded with any number of labels.

    But I suppose that if I'm fortunate to one day be a published author who does very well, I sort of become a public figure and then I'll have to "manage" my persona. Maybe Tom Cruise should have talked to me first, huh???

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  6. Funny enough I have more visitors and less comments since I started ranting--go figure. I don't get it. But I have editing to do so off I go =\

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  7. Aww thank you Kate! Kinda creeps me -- but in a good way. ;-)

    Monica, I hope I don't come across as trying to minimize race when I post to your blog. On that last one, I may have though.

    Some blogs are just recording the daily grind of a life. Reading them feels almost voyeuristic (Is that a word? I have no idea. Screw it. I own it now.) Your blog, Kate's and a few others throw a wide variety of subjects out into pixeldom and every once in awhile, like now, I have the time and a subject just begs for discussion.

    No one was touching it. I know my perspective is usually skewed so much that even my mother wouldn't agree with me if I paid her, but still, I post and take my ass-kicking on the air.

    I'm weird that way.

    But I never want to lessen the or dismiss the point of the original blog post that inspired me to respond.

    So few blogs are Ferfe-friendly. I can't aford to piss off the one or two that tolerate me.

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  8. huh. My Monica remark got cut off. I wrote something about "but heck, if they come looking for you, they must want to know what you're thinking, right?"

    Specious argument...but it keeps me happy.


    ARLENE
    So what of persona do you want take on? Is it composed of mostly you, edited, or will you be acting like an entirely different person? (That sounds pretty fun, actually. After all, it's what writers do all day)

    My friend Lori has worked on branding herself and I think she's done an excellent job. I didn't know her before she got published though, so I don't know how much is polish and how much is the Real Lori. She doesn't come across as anything but genuine. . . hmmmmm...maybe some people are born to be public figures.

    Hard to imagine many writers are, though. Most of us seem to live too far into our brains.

    I think Megan does a good job too. Even her font feels right for the era she knows and writes about.

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  9. and Ferfe, how can a blog be ferfeunfriendly? Huh?

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  10. and Ferfe, how can a blog be ferfeunfriendly? Huh?

    You would be amazed.

    For some baffling reason I have this aura about me that causes some to roust the rabble out of their caves, light the torches, sharpen the pitchforks and send out the town cryer with an announcement that they are going to have a "Bat BBQ".

    Seriously.

    I have been pounced, rolled and thwaped upside the head to within an inch of my life, followed into email and flicked with cyber earwax some more.

    I think the post that caused the most mayhem was when I disgreed with someone on Writer's Weekend about "Rejection". Some writers perform a forensic audit of their work after a rejection. Me? I take the rejection note, mine it for quotable snark material, cross stitch it and sell it on eBay.

    I don't take the craft seriously enough for some -- aparently.

    From THAT I have learned never to engage actual writers in discussions about -- you know -- writing and stuff. And I avoid blogs and sites where people are trying to work.

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  11. Hee. That just reminded me. Renee Bernard and I have an informal contest on which of us has gotten the most "corrective silences" from an interview subject when we are doing a piece for RT. Renee thought she had me beat with Nicole Jordan and three corrective silences. To date she has not beaten my personal best of seven when I interviewed LKH.

    A "corrective silence" is when we ask a question or make a comment\observation that the author ... hmmm diplomatic term ... disdains? Yeah, that works.

    Similar to being flamed off a blog only less public.

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  12. I am kind of new to this blog thing. Can I post some fan mail here? I found your book "Somebody Wonderful" while browsing at my local 2nd hand bookstore <--sorry I didn't fully Amazon it, but I didn't KNOW about you yet :) Finished reading it this afternoon and just about swooned over Griffin (McCann really WAS wonderful, of course) and I just KNEW there had to be a second book featuring Griffin and Araminta. Ordered it.
    Looked for your website. And I am going to buy all of your books full price for the rest of my days. Just wanted to let you know that I am really glad that you are not the Ann Coulter of the historical romance world.

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  13. Nicole,

    You made my day. Oh, BOY, thank you. I wish I could make a big smiley face.

    grinning like a fool,
    Kate

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  14. and Ferfe? FITCTAJ.

    You're just too articulate and opinionated, is all. World needs more articulate and opinionated people not fewer.

    See? That bit about being creeped out that I read your articles? You didn't think about your audience, you writer. HA!

    Proves you think you need to take some Author Instruction.

    Actually I think you must have taken Author 101, which I missed. You use Ferfelabat when you blog-hop--and not your Author name. (I tracked you down when you posted at SBTB but I had to click a few times)

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  15. *note to self* taken needlepoint classes. So THATS What I'm supposed to do with all those rejections? *ggg*
    Ferfe I'm like you when it comes to those--after so many it's not worth getting bent out of shape on.

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  16. Kate,
    In answer to your question about what persona I would take on, I think the answer would be that the persona is mostly me, edited. I'm pretty opinionated and my left leanings do put people off. Those leanings are part of me, but I don't know that they are the part that the book buying public needs to see. Hence, my idea that I'd probably keep my personal blog separate from an author site. Now before anybody decides that I'm not being true to myself by holding back some stuff, think about it.

    This is no different than the politics of everyday life for those who work in traditional environments. Do you go into work and always 100 percent of the time tell it like you see it? Probably not because as a political animal (and I think all people are in the most basic sense), you recognize that it might not be beneficial to your work. The promotion might not come through, your boss could treat you differently,harassment, whatever. Now we can have a whole discussion on whether or not this sort of behavior by individuals is acceptable. But it does exist and dealing we have to deal with it.

    Again, Kate, I'm not telling you to not blog as Kate. Whatever you ultimately do (maybe nothing different at all), I really enjoy reading what you have to say. The choice to link your private person to your public person depends on your own game plan.

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  17. Arlene, OF course you're not telling me what to do. I hauled you into this discussion to get your ideas,I ain't gonna blast you when you give them.

    Developing a game plan can be valuable. I think I hurriedly came up with a vague one, back when I briefly felt like an author. I didn't follow it in oh, so many ways. . .

    Maybe I'll discover my career fizzles out and I'll reinvent myself, using the stricter guidelines of a woman with an eye on the prize of selling.

    There are plenty of resources for people who are interested in marketing--because that's what we're talking about. At least I am gassing on about. A writer marketing herself.

    This is not earthshatteringly original news. Almost all the PAN workshops I've gone to are about marketing and promotion. And the publishers, like Warners, are very clear on the subject. They brand beautifully--similar covers for an author's books, etc.

    One workshop about Author Branding but gave me a pain in the side. Too far into the ickety category of treating the books and person as Product. Too much slick, not enough substance. If I did another workshop like that, I'd want to see Lori's version.

    I think the idea that you plan BEFORE you publish is new and interesting. You'd have to at least know the sort of books you wanted to write.

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  18. and PBW has lots to say about how authors should behave. She has lots of valuable points actually.

    Problem is she's yet another strong, opinionated, articulate woman. I wouldn't call that a problem--except that we're all agreeing that there's a distinct possibility that Strong Articulate Opinionated Women don't get ahead unless they tone it way down.

    Way
    way
    way down...Like maybe hiding their true face. Is that a lie of omission? or political savvy? Did I mention I like tangents? A lot?

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