Okay, so today’s tip isn’t technically going to help you with your NaNoWriMo project. But at least a few of you are new to writing, and after NaNoWriMo is over, will want to continue. Part of the reason I decided to go these tips for NaNoWriMo is to give glimpses into the writer’s life. Chances are, most of you are trying in the hope of being published one day. And there is more to being published than writing the book. The writing is the most important part, of course: don’t put the cart before the horse. There’s the writing—and then there’s everything else: reading and continuing to work at craft, becoming part of the writer’s community, building a network to help sustain you, pursuing publication.
Have you been to an author event lately? Whether at a book festival, or a reading in a bookstore, make it a point to go to at least two live events a year. Why?
- If you aspire to being a professional writer one day, you’re going to have to talk about your work eventually. You’re going to have to read out loud from your book. You need to see how others do it. And it helps to be there, in the flesh, and soak up all the atmospherics and to get a feel for how it’s done and what to expect.
- If you consider yourself part of the community of writers, you need to help support that community. Bookstore appearances are important for authors for more than the opportunity to meet their readers. It gives authors a chance to get their name on posters and newspaper ads that are read by people who won’t be attending the event itself. It gives authors a chance to get to know booksellers, which is incredibly important, because if a bookseller doesn’t know about your book, he won’t recommend it to customers. I heard while on tour this September that the average number of people who attend a bookstore event is nine, and that’s the average from the newest of debut authors to the big names. The number of people who attend live events is dwindling to the point where such events may be in jeopardy for all but the most well-known authors. Let bookstore owners know you appreciate these events by attending them. And bring a friend with you.
Some people think that author events in bookstores will go away because they are so poorly attended. I think that would be a shame, and not because I’m one of those people who think we should continue tradition for it’s own sake. It’s because the experience you get from a live event is fundamentally different from what you get from reading. It enriches the experience of reading. It enriches your relationship to your chosen pastime. So please get out there and attend a live book event as part of your development as a writer.