A couple of weeks back, Dan Bell (who I mentioned previously) had a neat live-chat on his Instagram. He picked random people to chat with for about 5 minutes at a time. I submitted my name thinking that the odds of me getting picks were pretty decent. Lo and behold, midway into editing my novel, I was CHOSEN.
We talked mostly about “making it” as creative people and how creative drive motivates one to thrive. It was a great conversation, however, that conversation started with him asking what I did, followed by me saying, “I’m a writer.” Then he asked what kind of writing I did.
And guys, I totally fucked up:
Dan: What kind of fiction?
Me: LyKe, I DunNoOOooOOOO, d4rk stuFFFFF? I have a short story collection! I’m currently werking on a novel lyKe R1ght NOWWWWWW. It’s dark. Like really dark.
I mean, I’m paraphrasing but I’m pretty sure that’s how I came off.
Have Some Damn Confidence
Look, if you’re trying to come off like a writer, then get your head up your ass a bit.
I don’t know why I always hold back when I tell people about my writing career. Typically, when I meet new people, I always say where I work first (because that’s how I make money) and THEN talk about “how I do some writing on the side”. This is always where people get interested and wanna know details and I ALWAYS HOLD BACK.
I cut myself down. I say that I have a short story collection but that my press screwed me over and that they can buy it if they want to but that I won’t get any money from it, just enough to buy this watch, which I wear with both pride and also with a bit of sadness. Like if my press didn’t screw me over, maybe I’d be making mortgage payments instead of having a fancy watch.
If you’re like me, just remind yourself of the shit you’ve accomplished. Like how you have a book with a nice matte cover. How you have Goodreads reviews. How you’ve made pro sales and also bought yourself shoes you didn’t need! How people have messaged or emailed you saying just how much your stories have meant to them.
Those things matter. You wouldn’t have those things if you weren’t a writer, so take some bloody pride in what you’ve done with your life, you poor ass loser.
Have an “Everyday” Elevator Pitch
If you’re a writer of any kind, you know what the elevator pitch is. I know it, but I also live in a mid-sized town in Canada. What are the chances that I’ll ever cross paths with a big-wig publisher? Never.
There were, however, 100 people in that chat who might be interested in my work. 100 potential readers! Everyone I come in contact with is a potential reader, and I need to have a proper “everyday” kind of elevator pitch for the people I meet.
What should that elevator pitch include?
- What kind of fiction you write.
- Where people can read it.
- If you have a book and where they can buy it.
- A bit about your career and how it fits in your life.
Here’s my pitch:
I write neo-noir fiction. Neo-noir is more of a modern take on old film-noir tropes. It’s dark and introspective and sometimes borrows from other genres like horror science fiction or erotica. My short story collection is called Vile Men, which you can find online, though I do have some signed copies that you can buy from me directly.
Sometimes it’s hard to fit writing between work and life. Usually, I write at night before bed, though I do enjoy bringing my computer to work and writing during my breaks.
I never do this. I feel like a weird poser when I plug my website. Like it feels really nerdy and stupid but it’s also the easiest way for people to read about what I do. Like isn’t that the point of a website?
Post-Dan Bell chat Rebecca says: YES, THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF A WEBSITE.
So yeah, plug your site. Don’t be ashamed of it. If you’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into your site as I have, then you might as well encourage people to look at it. Or you can just use Squarespace. All the sponsored YouTube creators tell me it’s really easy, but what do I know?
Get Business Cards
Might feel like overkill, but when Vile Men first came out I figured I might as well be legit. Business cards (even nice ones!) are quite inexpensive these days and are really easy to hand out. I’ve given a few of my mixed batch “quote cards” to coworkers and they always get a fun reaction.
I made mine at MOO and was happy with their double-sided matte cards. I love that you can choose different photos for the same batch of cards, so when I hand mine out to friends they like to go through them to find their fave.
Embrace the Stereotype
We all know that writers don’t actually make money. We all know it going in and yet we strive for some kind of greatness that we’ll statistically never achieve, which is a joke, honestly. It’s THE joke about being a writer. You gotta get down on yourself to preserve your own sanity.
I write to preserve my sanity.
So yeah, I’ll joke about how I made 22 cents last months on my self-published Amazon erotica.
I’ll joke about how my small press screwed me over.
And I’ll joke about I’m a 30-something grown-ass woman working a “shitty retail job” in order to write. And then people will reference how J.K. Rowling made it big and they’ll say that one day it might happen to me and that they should get my autograph now before I’m a big name and I’ll roll my eyes and humble myself and call myself a loser and a bad writer and I’ll spend an entire night watching urbex YouTube videos instead of writing and I’ll curse myself for not taking my career seriously.
BUT, at least the next time I end up on some obscure online celebrity chat experience, I’ll be ready.