I have a good friend who in my mind is every author’s dream reader, what I like to call a “super fan”. Here’s why I say this – when it comes to his favorite author, he is passionate about his work. He’s regularly on the author’s website, and makes sure to faithfully listen to the author’s weekly podcast, and he’s first in (virtual) line to pick up the author’s latest book whenever one comes out. But most importantly, he is eager to tell anyone and everyone who’ll listen all about this author, and how great his books are, and how they really should read them.
Every time I hear him talking, I can’t help but smile, because the simple truth is, you can’t buy that sort of positive publicity. No amount of ads or tweets, or even positive reviews or best-seller listings can equal the sway of someone who is truly passionate about your work, to the point that they not only read all of it they can, but they actively want everyone else to read it as well so they can see how good it is.
When I get ready to publish my book, I hope I can get a handful (hell, even one or two) readers who are as passionate about my books as he is about the books he loves. Even in our modern Internet age, I don’t think you can ever underestimate the power of direct word-of-mouth. Has anyone else had an experience with this sort of fan? If you’re a writer, do you have any “super fans” of your own? I’d love to hear responses from other writers on this.
NaNoWriMo2014 starts tomorrow! I am very excited to start writing my first draft! Wish me luck – 1700 words per day isn’t going to be an easy number to maintain, but I’m going to give it my all. Next month’s blog posts will likely just be quick updates on my NaNoWriMo status, as I really want to focus on my novel during November. Then come December we’ll see if I can jump back into the blog with some new and fresh posts.
I’m also contemplating the direction I want to go with the blog. I want to keep actively posting to it, but over the last few weeks, a few realizations have come to me. Firstly, blogging my experiences as I develop as a writer probably isn’t as useful (and thus, interesting) to people as a blog by an experienced writer who is writing more focused “how-to” articles versus my random musings on things. Which leaves the second category of posts I’d first thought to write about, which are articles on the geek activities that I’m passionate about. The problem there is the randomness of those posts means they’re not likely to draw a serious following, either (and I feel like my blog really does lose its purpose if no one’s reading it but me).
Which got me to thinking about an alternative route I may take with my blog, to see if it has more success. Instead of trying to follow the style of your standard non-fiction, instructional blogs (and let’s be honest, most fiction writers whose blogs I’ve run across really do feel like non-fiction blogs that are just focused on the process/business of writing and publishing), I’m thinking I may be better off mimicking the web comic sites that I follow (by which I mean sites patterned after comic books, such as Girl Genius or Skullkickers, as opposed to comic strip style comics such as xkcd or Penny Arcade). That is, each week I would publish a chapter of a continuing story, and make this a story blog instead of an author blog.
I’ve read plenty of articles that say you want to give people more than just samples of your work for your blog, but I feel like the warning there is you don’t want people to think you’re doing nothing but self-promotion of your novels on your site (which I get). And so my goal would not be focusing on self-promotion, but focusing on providing readers with an enjoyable, free story that they can follow week to week.
At the end of the day I think I’m a much better fiction writer than I am a commentary/non-fiction writer (the complete lack of a following on the personal blog I tried to maintain many years ago is a pretty solid testament to that). And if people will faithfully follow a web comic series (I know there are a few that I read religiously), then why not a web story series? The trick, of course, is coming up with a story idea, and finding a way to consistently write it week in/week out, all while still working on my main novels that I want to publish.
So maybe that will be an additional challenge for myself for November – to see if I can come up with a good story idea that will work well spread out over multiple chapters published on a weekly basis, and then work out the basics of at least the first half dozen chapters or so. Because clearly there isn’t enough stress in my life already! Of course, one of the joys of a creative challenge like that is that in many ways it’s a good kind of stress, because coming up with stories is something I truly love to do.
And I will leave you with that. Wish me luck on NaNoWriMo, and let’s see what I can come up with to turn this from a random author blog into a solid story blog.