Are You a Lone Ranger Writer?

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

In publishing, we’re constantly asking writers—typically a rather introverted bunch—to get involved, to engage, to network, to join groups and go to conferences. I often find myself wondering how many of you cringe every time you hear that kind of advice.

Maybe you’re not into the whole publishing “scene.” Maybe you don’t enjoy being in a critique group where people discuss your work.

Maybe you don’t want to be part of a crowd, you don’t want to go to workshops, you don’t think of writing as a group activity. 

Lone RangerMaybe social media is not your thing. The thought of promoting your book gives you hives. You don’t want to be a speaker or a blogger or a Facebook expert.

Can such a person find success in publishing?

Yes—but these days it’s rare.

You’d have to be pretty darned talented to begin with. If you’re not going to workshops to learn, and you’re not getting feedback on your work, then in order to snag an agent and a publisher, or even find a large audience through self-publishing, you’d have to be writing amazing stuff without benefit of the collaborative process. There are definitely some writers who can pull this off. You may be one of them. The only way to know is to try it and see what happens.

There are still stories of writers getting their agent through the query process, without ever networking or getting a referral or going to a conference. But eventually you’ll need to build an audience for your book, whether you’re with a publisher or doing it yourself. You are going to have to engage with your readers and potential ones.

Most of that can be done online, so if you’re at least comfortable with blogs and social networking, you should be able to market yourself just fine. You don’t necessarily have to be “out there” promoting except in the virtual world.

For all the emphasis on critique groups and workshops and conferences, we recognize the reality that not all writers are cut out for all that. While this kind of involvement does offer terrific advantages for those who are able to do it—and there are some people who would never find success if they didn’t avail themselves of every possible resource—all is not lost if you can’t.

In the past, writers have told me they can’t afford conferences, or don’t have access to them because they live in a remote location. Some have said they haven’t been able to find a critique group. I tell them it’s up to them to find success despite the limitations.

But I rarely hear from writers who say, “I am not interested in all that group stuff. I am a writer! I sit in my cave and write — by myself. I have no desire to do it any other way.”

Today’s your chance.

If you’re a solo writer who cringes at the thought of a conference, critique group, or workshop, please tell us about your experience. If you can’t stand the idea of promoting your work — what’s that like for you? 
 

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  1. Ha, yes I am very much an introvert. My hubby signs us up for two BBQs in a row and I am miserable, all of those people. But I am never more extroverted then when I go to the little writer’s conference my sister and I attend every year. Our husbands watch the kids, we buy new clothes, we take all the classes, sometimes we giggle through all the classes, we drink lots of coffee and eat snacks and laugh and meet people and pitch stories and throw caution to the wind. It is wonderful, I’ve stopped expecting to be “discovered” and started just enjoying my chance to learn something new and get out of the house with my sister. I don’t like critique groups, but I have a critique partner that I love. Took a decade to find her, but we work very well together. Anyway, there is me. What about the rest of you?

    • I am an introvert too, but had to transform myself on numerous occasions. I love your technique when going to writer’s conferences with your sister! It sounds like fun. If I went to a conference by myself I might be scared, but going with a trusted friend would make it more enjoyable. Great tip.

  2. Sheila King says:

    Rachelle,
    I may have finally found a critique partner (thanks to Books and Such), and am looking forward to giving it a go.
    I am that strange mix of introvert (love to be alone and read, etc.) but still enjoy group activities and one of my happiest spots is public speaking for large groups – so go figure! (actually if you are a teacher for enough years I think you automatically go to the front of the room and start telling people what to do).
    My biggest problem with building a platform is – who cares about what I have to say? There are so many voices!

    • Many voices, but only one you.

      I’ve found that platform building – now that I feel confident enough to realize I’m doing at least some of it right – is all about serving others’ needs.

      That means, functionally, paying attention to what similar blogs omit, and looking at comments to try to discern that for which readers’ hearts are yearing. It’s sometimes easier than it sounds.

      And then, just write, and link, and comment elsewhere. Don’t worry about developing your voice; it’s going to shine out as you extend your hand to others, to help them see the graces you highlight.

      And that will animate your fiction, more than you believed possible.

      • Platform building “is all about serving others’ needs” is a strong statement. Thank you for saying it. We all have something to say that someone else needs to hear. Our message is relevant to that one person or group of persons. It’s not so much about us as it is about those who read our stuff and are helped/ energized by it.

        I liked the point of this blog post. I am a shy person pushing myself to move forward. Each year I grow some more. Cold turkey meetings are a big step. However, each step teaches me and “grows” my confidence a little bit more.

    • Sheila, your comment about teachers made me laugh. My mom is that kind of take charge leader.

      Good luck with your new critique partner.

  3. I don’t like promoting my work. Not at all. Not even a blog post. It hurts my heart; makes me feel foolish.

    I haven’t been to a workshop yet. I had a wonderful chance this year … wrote the event on the wrong day on the calendar and missed it. I did that? I.did.that. Ugh. But I love class and learning. The only hard part for me is having to leave my family. But one daughter loves to write … so I have a feeling I can recruit someone to tag along.

    I look forward to ACFW 2015 … praying all works out where I can go. Though I’ll be nervous, I so long to meet everyone I’ve become acquainted with through this blog. I have some hugs to deliver. 🙂

    • Shelli, I know what you mean about promoting your own work–even feeling foolish about it. I am the same way! I’ve been working hard over the past two years to stop viewing it as promoting myself and think of it as sharing content that will be a blessing to others.

      Congrats on the possibility of going to ACFW! Along with Mt. Hermon, that’s a conference I REALLY want to go to someday. 🙂

    • I’m planning to attend the 2015 ACFW conference, too. Dibs on lunch with Shelli!

    • I loathe self-promotion as well. I’d publish as “Anonymous” if I could, or hire, say, Brad Pitt to be “me” in public. But I’m SO much better looking, the poor guy would feel inadequate. (And there’s your laugh for the day.)

      Seriously…

      It may feel foolish, and presumptuous, but you are supposed to shine the light of faith, and not hide it under a basket.

      If it hurts your heart to talk about it – and please excuse my bluntness – can you imagine how God is hurt when He gave you the message and the gift, and you don’t talk about them?

      We need your message, we need your faith, and we need to know how they are expressed…and, yes, where to buy them.

      It was a journey for me, and sometimes feels like a tightrope walk, that I’ll lose my balance and be revealed for the literary and theological impostor I sometimes think I am.

      But the Bible says something about stepping out boldly in faith, and I guess that covers having one hand extended in friendship, and the other holding a bunch of one-sheets.

      Faith is part of me, and spreading faith, to a degree…means spreading “me”, the spark of Jesus in my individual soul, in my writing.

      Does this make sense? Or has my hamster been drinking wine and reading too much C.S. Lewis again?

      • Makes total sense, Andrew. 🙂 I’ll truly be a fool for Christ any day. But it goes against my grain! 🙂 You know how hard public speaking is for me … my right hip went into spasms the last time. 🙂 It was fearfully hilarious. And I have my next speaking engagement already lined up … October 2015. I’m doing it, Andrew! 🙂

      • I believe in you, Shelli.

      • I do agree with you Andrew. I’m not a self-promoter. I’ve been taught to be modest and humble when it comes to accomplishments, however sometimes we just have to share what we’ve done because it could help someone else. I have the unique privilege of sharing my father-in-law’s Holocaust memoir. Instead of saying “my book” I simply say “Joe’s story” and where it is available. It is so much easier putting the focus on him rather than myself! I also do a lot of public speaking engagements, since I’m the delegated voice for my father-in-law (he suffers from the effects of Alzheimer’s and has trouble remembering his own story). I’ve really had to step out of my comfort zone, but I feel it’s a worthy cause so that pushes me through my own barriers.

    • Get ready, Shelli–I’m going to love on you!

    • Julie Garmon says:

      Hey Shelli. I understand~

      I’ve been solo blogging from my own site for 3 1/2 years and my stomach still flips over every time I press send.

      I’m an introvert too, but there’s something pretty amazing about writers conferences. I’ve been to ACFW a few times. I think part of the thrill is just being able to hang out with other writers who understand.

      XOXO

    • DL Perching says:

      I don’t like to promote myself either. I feel like I’m saying “look at me, look at me” instead of sharing my creativity and hopefully helping someone in some way, including through fiction.

      When discussing promoting my work, a fellow writer once told me if I believe that “writing is part of my life’s purpose on the earth, then I’ve been given a gift. Instead think “stewardship” not lack of humility or selling something to others.”

      With this mindset, I feel a responsibility to develop my writing, share it with others, and not get defeated by rejection, opposition,and lack of page views. I can even dare say, “check out my blog post” though it makes me nervous every single time.

      Think of all the books, fiction or non-fiction, that have helped you, changed you, touched your heart, or affected you in some memorable way. As a writer, maybe I could one day create something with words that would do that for another fellow human being – making a child laugh or being a part of turning them into a lifelong reader. All of this keeps me going and doing it afraid.

      I wish you great success and unabashed sharing of your masterpieces.

  4. What I know is I’m not THAT good a writer on my own. I’m an introvert in some (usually new) situations. But I’m learning to reach beyond myself at large conferences or retreats where I’m meeting new people. I’m learning to say hi and begin getting to know people.

    I love going to writing retreats and learning from those who know way more than I do about writing craft. Getting to know other people is also a side benefit. 🙂 And finding people who understand writing craft the way I do and can give me feedback on my work helps.

    So, I’m not the person you were asking to answer your question about the solo writing life, but I suspect I may represent a certain fraction of the writers out there. 🙂

    • My way of meeting people is to walk up to someone and just say, “Dude!”

      That, combined with the shorts, mirrored shades propped back, and flip-flops tends to mark me as harmless, and is a seriously good conversation-starter. Of course, I do have to get over the “lives only to surf” impression I’ve just made…but that is part of the fun.

      Of course, there’s always the method Dorothy Parker said she tried out for meeting guys.

      She put a sign saying “MEN” on her office door.

      Met quite a few, she said, but they all seemed to be in a hurry.

  5. Methinks you’ve asked a multi-part question!

    I don’t believe in going it alone, so to speak (though one is never really alone, neither in the transcendental sense, nor – witness this blog – the temporal).

    In developing craft and personal networking, I would love to be able to attend workshops and conferences, but a couple of things work against that.

    First, illness. Going to Wal-Mart is a painful ordeal, and that is enough on that.

    Second, money. It simply isn’t there to pay travel, lodging, and reg fees. And I should not travel alone anymore.

    Third, service dog travel issues. I have to have a PTSD service dog with me, and airlines have, of late, been sticking out their collective tongues at the Americans with Disabilities Act, saying, in effect, “So sue us. We have lawyers, and they need something to do.”

    Being part of an ongoing crit group (or having a consistent partner) would be nice. I’ve had critique partners in the past, but they’ve generally fallen away from writing, or have gone on to bigger and better things.

    I do feel awkward approaching anyone. It is a bit hard for a guy writing in the area of Contemporary Christian Romance, what seems to be seen as primarily a genre for female authors (Nicolas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans excepted).

    But, that said, there is still much that can be done. My primary online presence is my blog, and I am working to increase its visibility through networking – linking, and commenting on others’ blogs.

    The blog is my statement of values, so to speak, and as it grows, readers have begun to ask me for…books.

    I do feel that professionalism is a must, in terms of a consistent blogging schedule, and consistent content with good takeaways that keep people coming back. This includes NOT taking a “holiday blogging break”; if readers care to look for me, I care enough to be there. If not…I will still be there.

    Am I waiting to be discovered?

    Yes. But while I wait, I am trying to build a long enough shadow that people can’t help but look up, to see me, and to see the Light that casts the shadow, and which animates my work.

    • Sheila King says:

      Andrew,
      My dad has suffered from PTSD since the Korean War and all these years later, we are still fighting battles over his care. I think I have a small glimpse of what struggles you face.
      For us, most recently, he was again turned down for some services because when interviewed by the psychologist, he could not account for enough trauma during war. NOTE: in 1958 he had over 100 eletroshock therapy zaps to make him FORGET the very experiences, so he is denied. No wonder the now-common phrase CATCH-22 was written about the military!!

      • Sheila, thank you for this.

        There are few things I find more infuriating that the way in which combat trauma is treated in this country. (I don’t know about other countries, except the UK and certain other places…it’s better there.)

        My heart goes out to your Dad. Korea was Hell. My experiences don’t compare. They were just firefights, and extractions under adverse conditions (as I write this I am pulling pieces of palm tree out of my foot, still there from 25 years ago).

        Well, and dead kids, killed to make a political point. That was a bit much.

        For what it may be worth, I deal with this on my own. I do not want to forget.

        I am witness to too many sightless eyes, and I will not desert them.

  6. I am an introvert, though I do enjoy social situations where I already know everybody. 🙂 I LOVE writers conferences. I usually end up attending them alone, so not knowing anyone can be awkward. Still, I love love love the experience. Over the past few years, I’ve seen firsthand the benefit of networking, so I’d never try to go the writing thing alone.

  7. Rachelle, although many people who’ve met me at conferences probably class me as an extrovert, in my heart I’m 5 stars on the introvert scale. Yes, I attend conferences, but often sign up for classes only to skip them and talk one-on-one with publishing friends in order to swap ideas. And rather than a critique group or even a critique partner, I write and then ask my wife (who’s been to as many conferences as I, but attends the classes and pays attention) to give me her input and edits. That puts me one up on fellow writer, B J Hoff, who says that not even her husband sees her work until it’s ready to submit.
    I stand with Meg Chittenden, who said, “Some people hear voices when no one’s around. They are called mad, and sit in a room all day and stare at the walls. Others are called writers, and they do pretty much the same thing.” That’s me, sitting and staring at the computer screen.

  8. Rachelle, I’ve met some of my best friends at conferences. ACFW is one of THE best places to connect with like-minded believers, learn craft, and develop one’s sea legs.

    I try not to think so much about “promoting” my work as I do “enhancing friendships/partnerships.” It’s fun!

    AND I love people, so for folks attending ACFW for the first time next year, and you’re a wee bit nervous—look me up. I’ll have a {{{HUG}}} with your name on it! 🙂

  9. In an attempt to scale new heights of overweening arrogance, I shall offer the following Chicken Nugget for the Lone Ranger’s Ego…

    To become a legend in your own time, you first have to be a legend in your own mind.

    OK, diluting the conceit, it does mean that if you;re going it alone, you have to do everything possible to reinforce confidence. Not uncritically – that’s just self-delusion, mental morphine. Ommm…..

    You have to believe in the divine spark that animates your message, and you have to hold that spark before you, as Moses followed the pillar of fire.

    It may take forty years to build a following, to continues the Mosaic analogy. How OLD will you be then?!

    But – if you’re writing stuff from your heart for God, and you know it’ll never see the light of day with CBA or ABA…

    …how old will you be in forty years, if you just let it go and don’t follow the spark?

  10. We’re all a strange mix, aren’t we? I have trouble with self-promotion, but no trouble with concept promotion. In other words, if something I’ve written will help others, then it’s much easier to promote it.

    Conferences are exhausting to me, yet of great value. One a year seems to be about all I can process–so much information to act on once I’m home! So many new friends made and concepts learned.

    Day to day, it still comes down to the age old question of “How shall we then live?” What do we do today to honor our Lord and use the talents he’s given us? I have to ask that question every morning and follow through with whatever seems to be the answer, hard or easy, comfortable or not.

  11. People think that I’m an extrovert. I am NOT. I’m an introvert who loves people, but only when I’m ready.
    My first ACFW was utterly insane. I knew a few people, and had to force myself to leave our room, even when I really needed to circle my wagon and breathe.
    People usually say to me “Ohh, you’re so natural with people, you’re so bubbly and out there.”
    I can be, and I am, but not all the time.

    But with writing, I NEED people who know the road to guide me along and help me get my courage up.

    I have only 2 approaches to this gig. 1) Learn what I can and keep my head down until I feel strong enough. 2) Take what I’ve learned and stand in the gap, whilst waving my “help is here” flag for someone else.

  12. Writing, I am an introvert. In almost everything else, I am an extrovert. Therein is dissonance.

  13. Elissa says:

    Like many, I’m also an introvert. But I’m an amateur musician and a professional artist as well. I’ve performed for audiences and hosted gallery shows. People are rarely as frightening as my inner self believes.

    It’s true I prefer solitude or the company of only one or two other people I know well. Right now, my efforts are directed toward improving my writing and creating a marketable book, not toward building an audience. But I’m sure that when the time comes, I’ll be able to promote my work. And that’s the key–it’s not about me, but the work.

    I’ll never be able to promote myself. But if I can keep the spotlight on my work, I’m sure I’ll do fine.

  14. Joe Plemon says:

    I am not only an introvert, but (it seems to me) the most challenging type of introvert in this world of Christian fiction writers–a MALE. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against women, but the temptation to run and hide is all the stronger when the strangers in the room–or on a blog site–or at a conference–are primarily women.

    Yet I forced myself to attend the 2014 ACFW Conference, paranoid at the prospect of being trapped in an elevator with a bunch of women I didn’t know. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad after all. I even gritted my teeth and made some friends…some who comment on this site.

    For me, that is an accomplishment.

  15. I’m a former reporter for the “Chicago Sun Times” and “Arizona Daily Star,” published author and “Huffington Post” blogger. And I’ve been a lone ranger writer all my life. It’s just who I am, and it has worked for me for over 40 years.

    I write alone, I do not join critique groups, I do not share my writing with anyone. I’m not entirely antisocial, though. I’ve just found that writing coaches/mentors confuse me more than they help me. Many of the mentors who’ve approached me cannot see beyond the famous systems they’ve devised.

    In the past, that meant spending a lot of time trying to please them, and my work suffered. One of my mentors was sharp enough to see that the problems we had together were worth analyzing, and he wrote a second book to address “global” writers like me. He was the only one who realized there might be another way to approach writing, and to honor “diversity” in that way. And it helped HIS career immensely!

    Today, I only offer up my writing to the magazines, Web sites and book publishers I query. I almost always get reads and usually sell what I send them. I have a long list of blogs and other sites to consult for tips and writing advice when necessary. I use social media to get the word out and for clues about publishing trends and even agents and publishers looking for material. I use Wattpad and other sites to “test” my work without having to actually meet with other writers, but it’s not the comments I learn from, it’s the stats for each chapter that give me a good reading on what’s working and what’s not.

    I realize this isn’t the way things are supposed to be done today, but it continues to work for me. So…if it ain’t broke…

  16. Ann Gabhart says:

    I’m like Cynthia. A Lone Ranger Writer. I used to watch the Lone Ranger when I was a kid, so I’m okay with being called that. Of course, when I started writing there was no internet. I knew zero writers and had no idea that anybody had critique groups. I didn’t even know there were writer conferences until I published my first Christian novel after having published in the general market previously. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did know about them. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip. I did take a subscription out to The Writer magazine when I started writing. The articles in that magazine were like a mini writing course for me. I didn’t attend a writer’s conference until I went to ACFW a few years ago. Enjoyed it. I love meeting people, love public speaking, enjoy social media and blogging, but none of that makes me want change the way I write. And I never let anyone read my work until I’m ready to send it off to my agent or editor. They turn out to be my “first” readers. Perhaps my stories would be improved if I got input from other writer friends as many of you do, but alas, I am that Lone Ranger writer.

  17. Ok, what is wrong with me???? I have been in sales and marketing my whole professional life. Put myself out there, talked up a storm, and have been in the spotlight….full of rejections and scrutiny. I love to entertain, will talk to anyone in a line….Hello, I am social! AND I love to write. You all make me feel like a freak!!! I do write in isolation. I didn’t tell anyone I was writing…and only put it out there when I actually finished a manuscript. But I am look forward to meeting people, going to conferences, and meeting like minds. So, am I a freak?????

  18. Dave Marcum says:

    I didn’t know I could write until I…did. I wasn’t in the mood to read a book and I had hours before the family was to return home so I sat at my computer and wrote about a dream I had. It was fun! I embellished on that first draft, embellished again and again. A few hours a week I did this till I had a few chapters.

    I decided to let some people read it — you know, run it up the flag pole. Not one person has given me a negative comment.

    Of course, I now have to find an agent who does the same…..

    I love my writing! But I don’t go to seminars, workshops or critique clubs. If I was to get published, I’d promote the heck out of my book(s)!

    But right now, I work 55+ hours a week and can’t afford to get away. So I work and write in between work and sleep (and family time).

    I suppose at this point in time writing is just a hobby…

  19. I was raised to always put others before me and that has had a disastrous effect on how I am able to promote myself and my writing. But with perseverance I and help from friends and reading all these wonderful blogs I am now writing a regular blog and active on social media. Perhaps because writing is so important to me and I realize I need to tell the world about my writing I have ventured out of my shell. For me social media was a good way to do it as I could move forward at my own pace.

  20. Lanny says:

    Well, I certainly agree with the theme of this discussion group. I am indeed a Lone Wolf writer, and an old one at that. There’s a problem with every writer’s conference I’ve been to, including the two I’ve presided over: local conferences stay local as far as the “in group” goes, and “outside talent” tends to get ignored one way or another. Therefore, other than meeting a prospective agent or editor, I’m not sure if writing conferences are worth it (however, maybe the sole act of meeting said agent/editor is worth the trip!)
    Also, I am more than cognizant that my ways are not best, and maybe I’m resisting networking just because I don’t understand the techniques. I have several friends that “hawk” their stories on Facebook and elsewhere, but by golly they do tend to get published. Thanks for posting this subject!!

  21. Steve Novak says:

    I am a natural introvert, but work hard at overcoming it. It takes practice. My first book was non-fiction (business). I booked myself to speak and lead workshops and seminars around the country (and some overseas) and it was always a mixture of excitement and dread. But I kept at it, learned from my mistakes and from what worked, and learned as much as I could about presenting.

    I now have to give a brief talk at the monthly meetings of a business organization I belong to, and I use it as practice. To present my message of promoting membership, I make up a short, two minute, story to grab the audience’s attention, and tie it to the benefits of joining the organization. I stress every time, but I have quite a following. People tell me they attend just to hear my talk. I don’t know if that’s true, but making up a coherent 2-minute story that ties in to the membership message, and often with the topic of that month’s speaker, is great practice. It is also a challenge, but I feel good when people congratulate me, and especially when they ask me how much of he story is true. (Usually quite a bit.)

  22. I was successful mainly as a lone ranger writer for many years, then got discouraged from writing for a time by too many bad clients. Then I was writing only non-fiction for newspapers, magazines and corporate clients.
    More recently I’ve been writing fiction and have joined critique groups and gone to a couple of conferences. While I have enjoyed them socially, there has been no payoff professionally. Perhaps I’m just meant to be a non-fiction writer.
    However, it will take time to re-construct a network of contacts after quite a while away from the business.

  23. SaraD says:

    I am old school. I am an introvert. I like being an introvert. To be honest, as much as I love telling stories, I would rather stop writing than to be forced to engage in the way that seems to be necessary today.

    I don’t blog. I won’t discuss my writing, or let anyone except an editor read it. When I talk about specifics of my writing projects, the ideas vanish into the mist, never to return, so I avoid that. I never did let my best friend or my parents, let alone strangers, read the first book I sold until after it was in print. I would rather be pecked to death by a duck than sit around discussing writing with other writers, and I will never reveal enough of myself to make a website worthwhile. I don’t want readers to relate to me. I want them to relate to my characters.

    To me, this idea of selling yourself and your work comes out of an increasing laziness and belt tightening on the part of publishers. Your book becomes their product, and it is they, not you, who should be promoting it. Just as Green Giant doesn’t expect the farmer who grew the green beans they canned and put their label on to have his own website or join a farmer’s discussion group, a publisher shouldn’t expect an author to be responsible for promoting what the publisher is paying them little enough for in the first place.

    I understand that the situation would be different in the case of vanity publishing. However, as a former bookseller who could relate dozens of aggravating, annoying, unproductive encounters with self-published authors, I wold never consider self publishing, so that does not apply to me.

    I’ve sold a couple of books and some short stories, but not recently. I know I’m a good writer. Every Christmas, my old editor sends me a card that says, “Write something!” She wouldn’t bother if she thought what I did write would be done badly.

    I probably sound stodgy and opinionated. Maybe I am. I have had a long time to think this over, and this is the conclusion to which I’ve come: I will never give up my privacy just to sell a book. I’ve come to realize that this undoubtedly means I will never be published again, but, considering the alternative, I will live with that. It’s a shame, because some readers are going to miss out on some doggoned good reads.

  24. Dave Marcum says:

    I’m very new to this getting-my-book-published gig so forgive my ignorance.

    I read online some things by self-publishers that said traditional publishers still require you to hire an editor which could cost around the same as most self-publishing companies. I figured it was just a ploy to lure me in. But I’ve read a few comments here and in other blogs that mention editors – like SaraD above.

    Is there truth to this? Do we need editors?

  25. Scott says:

    Honestly, I’m happy to have a busy day job that makes it hard to get away to attend conference, mostly because it gives me a good excuse.

    I’ve been to a few, and found them simultaneously energizing and mentally exhausting. But I observed more than participating. I mean, I participated in group activities, but I didn’t go out of my way to socialize. One of these days I might go to another.

    BUT, I love my writing group. We’ve been together for five years, and are beginning to see success. I’ve been in groups for many years, and would have trouble working without the feedback, the stuff I learn from giving feedback, and the lessons we learn from each other.

    I also enjoy being part of the local writing community through a local writing blog I participate in, and the occasional local writing event.

    For me, it’s about smaller groups. A big group full of strangers is difficult.

  26. Scott says:

    By the way, a couple of my group members are among the organizers for one of our local conferences. One of these years, maybe 2015, they’ll convince me to go.

  27. Dave Markell says:

    I’m a long time lurker on this blog who felt compelled to post by the interest I have in this topic. I’ve written about 85% of what I hope will be my first published book, a memoir detailing the life of a brilliant but aggressive and completely crazy Golden Retriever. Now that the end of the first draft is in sight, I’ve been frequenting agent blogs like this one to glean ideas of what to do after I’m finished editing.

    I cringe whenever I read about the necessity for platform building via social media and the benefits of writing groups. I’m an intensely private person with Asperger’s Syndrome who opens up only to close friends and family. As Rachelle put it, “I sit in my cave and write — by myself. I have no desire to do it any other way.” If that proves to be an insurmountable barrier to publishing an otherwise decent book, I’ll force myself out of my comfort zone and make the attempt to interact in all the ways recommended here and elsewhere, but I know that my best efforts in this arena will fall far short of those made more extroverted and personable writers, to whom it will come naturally.

    Don’t get me wrong–I’m not a cranky, misanthropic curmudgeon! But I’m happiest alone, or with my wife, dogs, and a small circle of friends. I hope that doesn’t render me unfit for what once seemed like one of the last bastions of introversion in a hyperconnected world, writing.

  28. Quite honestly, people exhaust me. Conferences, the publishing circuit… even teaching – though my students say I’m good at it, and that seems to bear out. One of them recently got her work published.

    I think authors are, fundamentally, watchers of people. Characters are stylized people under our control, embodying the thousands of interactions we see in the ocean of movement around us. I know I’m personally at my best when I’m surrounded by people, but not having to deal with them. It’s like being in a submarine under the ocean, feeling the private excitement of observing rare deep-sea life.

    Despite being an introvert, I enjoy the camaraderie of conferences and writing groups. The thing about the latter that puts me off anything other than irregular, mysterious drop-ins is the politics. Wherever there are groups of people, there is politics and cliquishness. I hate both of those things with an intensity matched only by my desire to improve as a writer.

    One of my favorite websites for networking and crit is a site called Scribophile, which is basically a crit-exchange network. The crit is sometimes a little forced – to get credits to post your own work, you have to edit a certain amount beforehand, and some people will just shoot their mouth off for credits – but overall, it gives a writer a very useful place of insight. The people on Scribophile, the ones that choose your story to comment on, are generally representative of your audience. They’re the kind of people who WANT to look at your work; they read the first lines and were hooked. That’s an absolutely invaluable point of connection.

  29. I don’t consider myself to be an introvert, but I am a writer like the one you described above that both lives in a remote location and cannot afford to attend workshops.

    That being said, I do have a (tiny) online presence with my blog. My biggest challenge is not a lack of desire to be social or self-promote, but rather choosing whether to self-publish or begin the difficult task of finding an agent.

    Only God knows what is in store for my New Year. Blessings and thanks for the post, Rachelle!

  30. The “Lone Ranger” metaphor seems apt for artists content to enjoy merely the act of creation, which it could be argued, is self-indulgent. For any among us to whom this applies, there is no need to participate in anyone’s blog, to share your work with anyone. Therefore, the people to whom this metaphor best applies need not concern themselves with the question.

    For those of us who wish to either be part of the public discourse, have the voice of our work heard among all the other (potentially wonderful) voices out there, or who wish to become professional writers (for whom viewing writing not merely as art, but also as a business is necessary), this question is very important, indeed.

    The question we might ask is whether we are capable of producing a readymade piece of work that can stand on its own merit with no further promotion or editing at all. Anne Rice is notorious for doing her own editing and, though I’ve loved a lot of her work, there’s no denying that at times she’s run off the rails and could have been saved by a good editor.

    Though outside the question of editing, which I confess that I myself introduced, could any among us succeed with no promotion? No, not even the best of us. If our customer is unaware of the product, he cannot buy. Though if we ourselves are unwilling to promote our work, how reasonable is it to presume someone else should do it for us? Apply that question to any area of your life, and the argument will remain the same. If you think you should have groceries, but you are unwilling to work to earn money, or are unwilling to go to the store and purchase groceries, why should anyone else concern themselves with doing it for you?

    Lead by doing. If you want to inspire the world to become great, you go first. Do the work, become great. Inspire others. Change the world. It’s really the only way it’s ever worked, you know.

    Besides, with social media, it’s not like having to go to conferences and press the flesh all the time. We have so many outlets, and so many ways to train ourselves to become more comfortable with direct face-to-face marketing and promotion. Which, again, if our work depends on that sort of thing, upon whom should that responsibility fall?

    If self-publishing is your ultimate goal, and all you want is to see the cover on b&n.com or amazon.com, you can indulge that easily. Just don’t expect anyone to invest any more effort into your dream than you yourself are.

    Though if you want to make it at least part of your profession, it’s time to find a trainer, learn to do the things necessary, and commit to working harder than anyone else will toward making your dream a reality.