Writers: Making Your Fans and Followers a Part of the Process
As the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, I am often asked by new writers with first-time book contracts "When do I start talking about my book?"
My answer: Immediately.
There's usually a 12-month gap between signing and seeing the book on the shelves. Sometimes longer. You don't want to give away too much information, but you certainly want to let folks know what you're up to.
Because I write mostly fiction, I talk about my characters, a little bit about what they're getting into, where they're going, what trouble they might have encountered. Of course, I don't give away too much information, but I've been known to write things like: Joan and her roommates just went into Carsons to try on the wedding dress they'll walk out owning.
This little ditty came while writin Five Brides, based on the true story of Joan Hunt Zimmerman who, along with her four roommates, purchased one wedding dress in the early 1950s. Each of the young women wore it on her wedding day, each with her own distinct story.
Sometimes I'll allow my followers and fans to help with sentence structure. A sort of "which sounds better, A or B?" kind of thing.
I've also had a word-count day ...and I lead up to these. "On Saturday, four days from now, I'm going to challenge myself to write 10,000 words."
Now, for anyone who writes professionally, you know that's an enormous number of words! But I've done it ... twice now. Once for This Fine Life and once for Waiting for Sunrise. Then, the following day, I'll write: Three more days and my fingers are getting limbered up. On the day of I keep fans and followers apprised of how it's going, with everyone cheering me on!
When I wrote The Road to Testament, I kept fans and followers up to date as I wrote on location at the real Decker Ranch. They knew my word count, they saw photos of the locations I wrote into the book, they practically knew what I had for lunch! (Sometimes I think that's over the top, but then fans tell me how much fun they have living vicariously through me so ... I keep at it!)
Finally, as I'm moving along at a fairly decent pace, I may ask my fans and followers to help me with wardrobe. I show a couple of outfits and ask, "What do you think? The red coat or the brown one for my lead female character?"
I love the reactions to those questions. Not only do I get answers, I often also get stories. And stories make it all worth while!