Tag Archives: book

Spoken Word at Enigma – 9/26/14

Come see me at Enigma Bookstore in Astoria, NY on Friday, September 26! It’s one of their last in-store events, so it’s a bittersweet occasion, but I couldn’t be happier to be reading in their beautiful space. Readings start at 8pm, and it looks like I’ll be in some pretty great company. Don’t miss it! EnigmaReading

 

#CommunityBuilding: Twitter for Writers

Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a number of writers. Some have books out already, some are shopping manuscripts around, some are polishing up their latest drafts – but a lot of them are wondering about marketing and social media. My advice? Don’t market. Now, I’m a marketer by trade, so that might sound strange, but work with me.

Photo credit: Flickr user Tashmahal

Photo credit: Flickr user Tashmahal

For the most part, writers are fabulous communicators. That’s kind of our schtick. Even better, writers usually enjoy communicating. So let’s call a spade a spade: Marketing is communication. It’s that simple. That’s all there is to it. That said, you do need to navigate your options and make sure that you’re communicating with the right people, in the right space, in a way that’s beneficial. My personal favorite, for many reasons, is Twitter.

Am I talking about that weird site where teenagers and college kids gather to commit their hashtaggery and their @mentioning? Yup. The forum in which Justin Beiber’s fans discuss how much they #belieb in him and where Lady Gaga posts dress-up photos of her tiny dog? Ding ding ding! Truth is, in 140 characters, you can make connections in one of the most organic ways the internet has to offer, and there is so much more to Twitter than teeny boppers and celebrities (although they’re welcome, too…let’s not be alienating). The site’s literary community, ranging from writers to reviewers to agents and more, is particularly strong. Hashtags like #FridayReads and #AmWriting are commonplace, and the overall atmosphere is incredibly supportive for writers of all experience levels. Tweeting is an ideal way to introduce yourself to fellow craftspeople and potential readers, and to have genuine interactions with the literary community.

That said, don’t blow your opportunities here. Nobody likes a sales pitch at a cocktail party, and no one wants you filling their social media feeds with links to your Amazon page. If you’re a writer who doesn’t have Twitter and you haven’t published yet, GOOD. Make a profile now, and start building relationships in the community before your book is released. You can make real friendships through the digital network, and connect with real people. And you want those people to know who you are, to be familiar with your voice, when it comes time to announce your publication date. They’re the ones who will be buying, reading, reviewing, and telling their friends about your work. You need them, but more importantly, you need the support – and that has nothing to do with sales.

Writing is a notoriously lonely endeavor, haunted by individuals who feel chronically misunderstood. Twitter not only makes it possible to connect with all sorts of different people – people who are like you and people different from you, people who understand you and challenge you and inspire – it makes it easy. There’s none of the will-they-think-I’m-a-weirdo-if-I-friend-them social anxiety associated with the more personal format of Facebook. There’s no pressure to produce longform works on a regular basis, as I do so infrequently while blogging. Just “follow” people (which sounds creepy out of context, but is a completely legitimate Twitter term), whether you know them or not, and say hello. No big deal, no awkwardness. It’s a public forum, and your presence is not an intrusion. You can see what other cool people are up to, or support them by sharing their messages and responding to their quips. Twitter is what you make of it, so get involved in a way that makes sense to you. Have fun. Be yourself. Hashtag with abandon. Slowly but surely, you’ll reap the benefits of being an active member in a community with a shared interest in the written word. And maybe you can check out those pictures of Gaga’s dog while you’re at it.



Find me on Twitter, tweeps! @daniwriteswords

There are tons of other social media/marketing options out there for writers. Other than Twitter, what works for you? What do you want to learn more about? Maybe this can become a series of posts about different venues. Who knows! Have at it in the comments, my lovelies!

 

Read a book, so I don’t have to be sad.

The Washington Post released a story on May 12 that made me make my sad face, to say the least. You can read the article for yourself, but it essentially summarizes a report from Common Sense Media that found a dramatic decrease in the number of young people who are reading for pleasure. I know I’m preaching to the proverbial choir here, since the blogosphere is full of literary types, but this breaks my heart and I have to say it somewhere.

Photo credit: Randen Pederson (flickr username: chefranden)

Photo credit: Randen Pederson (flickr username: chefranden)

Even as a child, books were my refuge, some of my best teachers, and constant friends. They encouraged my creativity, and provided insight into places/times/cultures I had never encountered in person. We all know that books can serve a great purpose as both educators and entertainers. What we don’t always think about is the effect they have on our personal development. Reading, quite simply, facilitates compassion. It helps us embrace diversity, introducing us to a variety of people and situations from the comfort of our own favorite comfy chairs. And we live in a world that is increasingly in need of compassion.

That’s what bothers me most about these stats: I don’t want to see the percentage of understanding people drop lower and lower with every flip of the calendar. I don’t want younger generations to lose an entire channel of information, a direct line into the inner workings of another individual’s mind. I don’t want kids to grow into adults who don’t know any better.

That said, I also know a lot (note: a LOT) of adults who don’t read. They think they don’t like books, that all avid readers are traditionally “bookish.” Personally, I’m a firm believer that everyone does like to read–they may have just not met the right book yet. (Literary matchmaking is my favorite, by the way.) These adults usually hated the required reading list when they were in school, didn’t do any reading at home, and came to the conclusion that all books were evil, scholastic heathens, sent to ruin their GPAs. When they graduated, they tossed literature aside to concentrate on more “productive” pursuits. Or, you know, to watch TV or something.

So here’s my request, of everyone, because I want our collective sense of compassion to grow in the coming years–because we can’t afford to see it shrink:

Read a book.

If you love to read, read something new. Immerse yourself in the story, or the poem, or the biography. Read whatever makes you happy, makes you think, makes you better. Talk about what you read, if you feel excited about it. Recommend the book to a friend.

If you’re sure you hate reading, hear me out. Please, please, just give it one more try. Please. Find a reader, someone you trust, and ask them for a recommendation. Visit a library. Listen to an audiobook during your commute. Read something you’ll enjoy. Don’t put pressure on yourself, or worry about the number of pages or how long it takes you to reach the end. A book is not about its ending. Even if you end up hating it, try to understand why. If you don’t hate it, try to understand why.

And if you have kids, help them find their books. Mine were Dr. Seuss titles and Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter stories. I read through my elementary library’s inventory of Ramona books, and shortly thereafter, The Saddle Club and The Babysitters Club series (clubs were a big thing for a while). Read bedtime stories. Give books as birthday presents. Find a book that makes your child smile, and then find more books like that. They’ll branch out on their own, eventually. When kids want to talk about what they read, talk with them. Listen to them. Don’t rush them. Don’t force it too much. Let them catch you reading.

Let’s all be more compassionate. Engage with characters. Lose ourselves in stories, then find ourselves in them. We must allow ourselves to feel something beyond our own experience.

You can help me make my happy face, and I’ll be very grateful.

 

Ain’t no party like a hungry writer party!

I was thrilled to attend fellow Wilkes alum Laurie Loewenstein’s book launch tonight at Bluestockings on the Lower East Side. Laurie’s novel, Unmentionables, is the first publication from Kaylie Jones Books, an imprint of supercool indie press Akashic Books (you might know them from the uber-successful children’s book parody Go the F@$! to Sleep!).

It was a great event, with standing room only as Laurie read selections from her work. And any night that ends with chocolate mousse cake and fun with writer friends is a good time in my book (no pun intended).

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A reunion of fellow Wilkies! We stumbled onto this gem of a diner after the reading. Many thanks to Jose at Sugar Cafe (visit them on Allen Street on the LES!) for humoring us, taking our photo, and not blinking an eye when all I ordered was a slice of chocolate mousse cake.

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That chocolate mousse cake I was talking about? Yeah, it was incredible.