Tag Archives: writer

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

 

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#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!

 

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.

“It’s the space station,” or…On AWP and Why Writers Geek Out Over It

I just returned yesterday from Boston, where the annual writer geek-out (also known as AWP, also known as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference) was held. It was my first time attending, so I’m sure I was even more wide-eyed and full of wonder than usual than most of my counterparts. Still, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that these few days in Beantown were impactful for me, important in some way much greater than my singular experience.

AWP swag…I will always be excited about a good tote!

Of course, this AWP was marked by an enormous pile of snow that insisted on blowing through the northeast last week, thereby trapping masses of writers within the confines of our hotels and the tunnels connecting them to the Hynes Convention Center (I literally did not breathe outdoor air for three days…) My hotel roomie, the inimitable Kait Burrier, described the other-worldly nature of this situation best, I think, when she said “It’s the space station!” She was referring to Prudential Center architecture at the time, but I find that the metaphor holds up for all other aspects of the conference, too.

Because writers are weird. We’re weird, and we know we’re weird. We couldn’t possibly deny it. Most of us go about our daily lives feeling the weight of our own oddity, noticing the awkward pauses as our conversations with non-writers shift away from whatever point we were trying to make and onto something more ordinary. Sure, we can get some solace from general book talk (“Hey, did you read A Visit from the Goon Squad? It’s awesome, right? Yeah, those characters are really something.” And this is surely a lovely discussion…Goon Squad is incredible, after all, and you tell your non-writer pals so), but there’s something about the life talk, the unnameable chemistry that occurs when speaking with someone who “gets” you, that simply isn’t there. Our friends and family love us, enjoy us, appreciate us–to some extent, they may even understand us–but, for the majority of writers, it is only the rarest of interactions that makes us stop and think, Yeah, they really get it.

Imagine, then, a place in which 12,000 such people have congregated, all aching for conversation, literature, and frivolity. All feeling buoyed by the presence of each other’s oddities–embracing them, reveling in them. Together.

In short, it’s amazing. I mean, mindblowingly and heartwrenchingly amazing. Indeed, what masks itself as a conference is really a return to the writers’ proverbial home planet. A trip to our own bizarre space station.

So forgive us, please, for the onslaught of post-AWP lovefest blog posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses. Take it easy on us when you ask how our time away from home or the office has been, and we are only capable of responding with a glazed look, a breathy adjective, and perhaps some small, insufficient anecdote. We do realize how annoying we are. It’s just that…this was really something special. Like, really incredible. We’re going to need a few days to come back down to Earth.