I met a young woman named Anai (Ana-ee) just the other day and we struck up a conversation. I found her fascinating. She seemed rather fearless to talk all about herself to a complete stranger like me. After all, I have grown cautious over the years, hesitant to open up, but Anai suffered no such trepidation. She was a sunshine yellow flower filling up a huge, empty space. At first, I chalked it up to naivete; she was after all, still in her twenties. But what impressed me most was the genuine nature of the exchange.
At one point she admitted, "I am a nerd, and I know it, and I'm proud of it." She gamely elaborated, telling me she owned nearly every gaming console that had been made, from early Nintendo to successive versions of Playstation, X-Box (and some others I never knew existed). Her father had built her a large expressly designed desk to house them all. He was an avid gamer, just like her. I could tell she really knew her stuff, and so I said, "Hey, have you ever thought about starting your own YouTube channel, or creating your own video blog, or even writing a book about everything you know?"
"Oh no," she said, "I don't think I could do that.
"Why not," I asked.
"Well because I'd be afraid to put myself out there like that..."
It struck me right then: that's a major fear of almost every writer I have ever known. In fact, most writers are a lot like our engaging young console gamer, Anai. They have a deep, rich, energetic love of the craft of writing, yet they are shackled by self-doubt, fear of judgment, fear of failure, and perhaps even fear of success! Of course, we've all read or heard about the successful writer who just wrote, and wrote, and wrote without the slightest concern of criticism or judgment. Unfortunately, that's not the case for many writers who work desperately to overcome several obstacles to do what they do. Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of articles about how how to write fearlessly, so to cover old ground would be redundant. Others have addressed the issues very well. Therefore, I want to focus on one thing, the publishing that I feel is best illustrated by my exchange with Anai.
One of the greatest techniques to increase your confidence, motivate yourself and provide the momentum to keep working on your project, be it a full novel, short stories or poetry, centers on communicating with a solid network of writers. The more you network, reach out and connect, the more you'll want to do what you love, which hopefully is write. My best promoters are other authors, and I met each and every one of them on social media. The concept is not new. If you become familiar with the lives of famous authors, you will know that a good portion of them blossomed and hit their peak after traveling abroad and hanging out with other like-minded writers. Today, that type of social grouping can be utilized without leaving your home town, through the internet. Book launches, book signings and readings, virtual writer's groups, book conventions and shows, writers' retreats, and of course standard social media can all be utilized as effective tools to network and expand your fellow author base. Before I made myself available to others, I always saw other authors as competing with me for the attention of readers. I've come to realize that the indie author market is so saturated, that I could not possibly hope to outshine, outshout or outspend other writers. I had to learn to appreciate in order to be appreciated.
And this approach works wonders. A group of authors cooperating together can bring far more exposure to a book than one author working alone. The constant interaction with others can also serve to motivate you to finish your project. So don't be afraid to join others in promoting each other. And by all means, keep writing.
Listen to Charles Peterson Sheppard's podcast episode here.