Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Care and Maintenance of an Author

By Joe Climacus

Today, we would do well to look at the care and maintenance of a writer.

First, we should note that we are using 'writer' to mean one who writes creative works to share with the public. That is to say one who writes poems, stories, or novels.

It has been suggested that their is a discrepancy between the term 'writer' and 'Author.'

A writer, it is said, is one who writes whatever it is that he or she wants, without any threat or pressure. A writer is one who 'only writes.'

An Author, unlike a writer, is one who has been proven, one who has achieved publication; therefore, the Author is the one who is known to squeal with glee when a box of ARCs arrives and to complain with suicidal overtones as a deadline approaches. An Author is one who must manage promotions and book tours and contests. An author is one taxed with working on the craft, one who crafts the resulting taxes into quarterly installments.

In so far as we can appreciate the author, therefore can we show that appreciation.

1) Provide reviews and ratings of balance.

Authors are often bombarded with five-star reviews. A book whose praise is of the highest nature can be suspect in that a casual observation might conclude that the reviews listed are "some bogus fucking bullshit." In order to counteract this difficult matter the author, through no fault of his own, finds himself in, a conscientious fan would do well to craft a two-star review or, if the reviews are generally of a five-star level, a one-star review. A book that receives dozens of low reviews is not one that can be suspected of being faked by family or sock-puppets.

2) Encourage continued success.

Most writers are required to "push" their current projects, despite the probability that the ninth book in the series is merely a rote attempt at completing a contract. It is incumbent on the conscientious fan to provide support and encouragement for those previous books that are clearly superior. When posting reviews on your own blogs or on Amazon, make clear that the earlier books are far better than these later books. It is only by encouraging past successes that we can help the author to achieve future magnificence. Use of the phrase "increasingly disappointing series" is suggested.

3) Financially support the author's work.

As a conscientious fan, it is extremely important to financially support the author's work. If you have ever been in a large book store, often called "chains" because of their inability to move with alacrity or finesse, you have seen stacks and stacks of books in the front. These books have been reduced and are often in possession of a black mark along the bottom of the pages. These are the books that you should purchase. Before purchasing any new works by a favorite author, the conscientious fan will purchase these "remaining" books. As book stores have limited amount of space, they are unable to stock new works while these old books are still available. Much like the boxes of frozen cream in your ice box, these older books will inform the manager that there is no need to stock newer product. With the vast amount of promotion and marketing every author receives from a book publisher, the new work will take care of itself. The conscientious fan will focus on purchasing a copy of one of these discounted books.

4) Focus your efforts to support the author.

You might also locate the author's personal email address and share that on your own blogs and social media accounts, so that the author can keep in touch with readers. Or you could call the publishing houses and speak with as many editors as you can, extolling the author's great works and how often she or he has touched you. Though you might currently read many authors, as a conscientious fan you owe it to the author to devote your time and energy. Make phone calls. Send emails. In the past few years, author have begun to publish more and more works, pushing novellas between novels and short stories between novellas. Encourage that. With each review you post, explain how you read the current work in one sitting and demand something new immediately. Show your passion for the author.

5) Provide creative help for the author's publisher.

The past few years have not been good for the publishing industry. This is all the fault of internet pirates and no fault at all of anyone in the world of publishing. Also, Amazon. Show your support and offer your help by creating your own covers for upcoming books by your favorite author. Just as we all became writers when typewriters were invented, so too are we all artists. Whether you have MS Paint or Corel Draw, you have the same tools that expensive "artists" use to create book covers. Your advantage is that you know the author's work. You have read the author's work, driven by her house, edited her Wikipedia page. As a conscientious fan, you must take the next step to helping create future book covers for the author. You can then post them on your blog, on the blogs of others, even on Goodreads and various other forums.

As we move further into this new era of publishing, the conscientious fan does whatever he or she can to help support a favorite author. No one has ever gone wrong by trying too hard to help. If you believe in something, you should do something. If you have a favorite author, show your support by doing whatever you can think of to help. The only bad ideas are the ones you don't act on.


Dana King said...

Well put, sir. If I could be so bold as to posit Number 6: Take every old copy you own of the author's previous books to be signed when he or she makes an appearance near you. This will hold up the line, allowing the newer fans more time to buy his current work.

Johannes Climacus said...

Mr. King,
You are wise.