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Must Writers Be Social Creatures?

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Philip Overby, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I'd imagine if most of us are writers, some of us aren't the most social people in the world. Sure, we may have friends and such, but the reason I got into writing was to create my own worlds and explore them. I think my initial thoughts were I'd get published, becoming rich, and just sit in my giant house all day writing books.

    I think the days of Emily Dickinson and Ralph Waldo Emerson are over. It's a mixed bag. You can't be too social and risk overexposing yourself, but if you don't promote yourself (especially self-published guys) then no one will even know you've written something.

    What are everyone's thoughts? Can you be a hermit and still become a successful writer without branching out to promote and network? Or must you be even more social that writers of the past because sometimes people buy books from people just because "they like them?"

    For example, if you went to a book signing and an author was rude to you, but you really loved his work, would you buy another book from him?
     
  2. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I think it is possible; not every famous writer does meet and greet sessions or book signings. I think at the least if you connect with people online through social media or blogs, it would be sufficient for a following of some kind or other.
     
  3. beckyefp

    beckyefp New Member

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    I think rudeness could drive off a large number of fans. Personally, I would probably still read the books if I liked them enough, but from then on, I'd search for some hint as to why the author was such a jerk. I've thought about the need to be more social quite a lot recently. The importance of being social seems to be increasing significantly with the rise of self-publishing. The change scares me because I've always been such an introvert. It's really easy to become so absorbed in my work that I neglect my relationships. It doesn't help that I don't particularly want my friends and family to read my writing because I fear it might offend them or they might assume that I share the same morals as my protagonists. Luckily, there are many more offensive titles than that of recluse.
     
  4. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    If you're going to write about people, you need to understand people. Talking to people would seem to be the easiest way to accomplish that. (Then again, a historical fiction writer needn't talk to ancient Romans to write believable ancient Romans--there's some room for extrapolation, and I'm not sure how wide that room is.)
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I'd read the books if the author was a jerk, assuming I really like them. I'm not reading them for the author's glowing personality. Conversely, if the author was the nicest person ever and the books sucked I wouldn't read them.
     
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Outside of the "rudeness to fans" factor, I don't think this has any real bearing.

    I'm fairly extroverted & social but writing itself is a solitary affair for the most part.

    Could it help to be social? Maybe, considering sales will be a part of a writer's future once published. Is it necessary though? I don't believe so. I would rather read an amazing story written by an author I never would meet than read any so-so book from the really nice person I met at a signing.
     
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I found Chuck Wendig's blog Terribleminds from a link someone posted and have since bought 3 of his books simply because I liked his sense of humor and assumed it carried over to his books. I was right. So I think being accessible to fans in some way definitely helps. It doesn't have to be in person, but online seems to be enough.

    The writing part of writing is solitary. I don't know many writers who have been successful unless they just shut out their "real life" for a couple of hours a day to write. But once you're finished writing, you have to find people to read the books. I think most, if not all people, who self-publish need to be masterful marketers. Otherwise no one will even know your book exists.

    As far as the "rude" factor, I would probably wouldn't read something from an author I considered a jerk. I don't want to give money to him. There are plenty of awesome writers out there in the world that I'd rather give my money to. I think terribly rude writers are few and far between though.
     
  8. The probability of doing so is nonzero but tiny. For all practical purposes: no, not really.

    That's hard for me to answer because I'd probably never go to a book signing. :)
     
  9. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I think that the social aspect of everything comes into play when you want it to. For instance, someone who is more social might appeal to readers who want an author who is reachable, personable and friendly, whereas other readers don't give a rat's behind what an author does in their personal life.

    For me personally, I am very social and love to interact with people. That alone aids me in my work, because so much of what I do is character interaction, vs. someone who is technically brilliant and creates on a more solitary level a story with rich details and world-building. I think that both have appeal and while I am a big fan of networking, I don't think everyone would find it necessary or even desirable to put themselves in the public spotlight.
     
  10. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    My fiction writing is a largely individual affair. I am currently on holidays and I have spent days plotting and writing and world building. Days I never otherwise get. I am generally quite introspective. I can sit and live in my world for hours, whether it involves my novel or just...my brain. I don't need to or want to share and I treasure privacy.

    However, research is not always something I do alone. I research whilst I travel. I talk to people, I get interviews with people about things (because I learn well that way), I ask questions on Mythic. Other research is done whilst locked away with my books and my computer and my handwritten notes. Even if I like to be alone quite a bit, human beings fascinate me. I would make a terrible writer and journalist if they didn't!

    Do I think social skills are important? Yes! As Steerpike says, a person's rudeness should not deter you from the quality of the novel. I agree - but as Phil says, I would be put off by bad attitudes and I would probably try to write it off as a bad day on the author's part. Learning how to be diplomatic, polite (etc) is essential for promotion. If I was rude to my customers or to the people I interviewed, I would quickly get a bad name. Our business would lose reputation and my journo contacts would stop answering my calls!
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  11. Artarion

    Artarion New Member

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    I am similar to you, I myself am not really a social person. I don't have many friends nor do I talk to many people. Though I love to write for the same exact reason. To escape in world that is your own, to forget everything and just moving your wrist writing letters that turn into words at a single though. To make wars, to make victories and defeats.

    Aside from that I have thought of this as well. I am still young, I write purely out of pleasure and love it. When it comes to those moments when I sit their reading my work I wonder. "I want to be a writer, but how will I get noticed." I am deeply personal about my writing and I am the kind of guy people would gasp if I said. "Hey I...love to write." Then the soaring mass's would come and ask to read it. That is what scares me, thinking of what others might think and their opinions of me would change in some perspective. I hate being noticed within highschool, but I usually suck it up and let someone read it.

    Then when they read it, I only get. "Hey I love it." I know, I should be happy but that just makes me frown. No constructive criticism just a plain "yep". Now, I don't really share much of my writing. And in the end I think it would truly hurt me if I want to become a writer.
     
  12. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Have you got a favourite teacher to share your work with? They may not have a lot of spare time, but some may be willing to give you a little criticism on a plotline or at least a chapter. Some of my friends are teachers, and I know they would be thrilled if a student came to them with something they did in their own time.

    And of course, you have boards like this where you can showcase your work. And I hear you: I am likewise very private with my works. Nobody has read any of it yet, but I will force myself to share it when the time comes. We cannot improve if we do not ask.
     
  13. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    True. Some are very reclusive such as Cormac McCarthy and Thomas Pynchon for example. I'm going to follow their lead.
     
  14. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Well, Harlan Ellison has kinda made a career of being rude.
     
  15. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Cormac McCarthy seems to be a rare exception. He's like an American treasure at this point. If he wants to not do interviews or anything, he doesn't have to.

    And yeah, if you're a good writer, you can get away with being bristly more than others.
     
  16. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Do you need to be social to market your books? I don't think so. I think they are two separate things. Having said that I don't market, and am not the most social, so the two might go together. As for the writing part, I think having friends and life experience is useful, but you also need to be somewhat introverted to spend the long hours sitting at your computer typing alone.

    There's a line from Her Alibi, (which I quite enjoyed), in which Selleck says that as a writer his wife always accused him of writing about life instead of actually living it, and I think that's quite true. Writers are by and large I think, a more solitary bunch.

    As for the controversial, go for it. Be nasty or outrageous. People may not like you but for sales it does the one thing a writer needs to do most - it gets his name out there.

    Personally my idol as a writer would have to be Hemmingway. Solitary, rude to people, did what he damned well wanted to, apologised to no one, and still wrote and sold well.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I think it's interesting how all of these writers that are being brought up came from a different era. If you are a brand new writer coming up and expect not to market and be sociable with readers, then you could be missing out. I can be a fairly introverted person at times, but I know to be successful nowadays you have to "put yourself out there." Meaning making yourself visible. Books don't always speak for themselves.
     
  18. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    Lovely. Another reason why my writing will never get me anywhere. Have gotten used to this thought already though.
    As a reader, I'm usually not too interested in the authors of the stuff I'm writing. If I don't know anything about them it's fine but if I do know something and it goes strictly against anything important to me, I might reconsider writing other works by this person.
    I'm actually not really fond of authors talking too much about their own writing process. It takes me out of the story and makes me analyse why they've done what and how they're trying to manipulate me with this. ;) Brandon Sanderson is one of those authors where I have a problem with that.
    This might be helpful for writing something yourself but not for engaging reading.

    Myself, I'm not a charismatic person dragging people behind her and I never will be.
     
  19. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    I agree.

    Social networking is everywhere, too. Love it or hate it.

    Neither. But that is not the point. I couldn't care less about the authors' lives either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  20. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    I am not a social butterfly in any respect. Of course, I have friends, family etc but when it comes to "branching out", that's something I try to avoid at any cost.
    However, I tend to socialise more with complete strangers. The people you see on a train, or in a line. I find that if you want a fuller experience of people and what's important to a person, speak to people you would not usually speak with. This could be a train guard, a sweet old lady in a shop, an quizzicle child etc etc.

    That said, I still prefer the company of a select few in my closest circles.

    x
     
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