By Glynn Young
The hats we writers wear can seem awfully heavy.
The hat we wear every day is the writer’s hat. This is what we do. This is what we’re about. We’re here to tell a story, and that can be difficult enough. It looks like a baseball cap.
We learn to write by listening, memorizing, and repetition. We learn writing by doing writing. We don’t sit down the first time and write stories effortlessly. We wrestle with our plots and themes. We fight and argue with our characters. We imagine scenes in our minds long before someone else reads the scene on a page of text. We’re perfectionists because we’re not satisfied until we get it exactly right. And while we write, we occasionally have to add a few additional hats – like fact-checker, editor, and researcher. This is the bowler hat of writing.
Once that manuscript is as good as we think it can be, we turn to marketing. We write query letters to agents and editors. We practice our two-sentence description of what our book is about. We examine and read books that are like ours, otherwise known as the competition. We look at our book’s genre and sub-genre and consider what does well and what disappears into the ether. We become text analysts with each rejection letter, searching for clues as to what might have gone wrong or at least what didn’t go well. The hats of the marketer look like a fedora, projecting an aura of mystery and sophistication. This is not usually a problem for writers; we pretend and make stuff up all the time.
If an agent accepts you as a client or an editor accepts your manuscript (or both), you become a publicist. You’re now is now focused on creating the finished, published version of a manuscript and launching it successfully. The publicist is discovering the full-time commitment of that dreaded animal, the platform. You tackle social media, you identify potential publicity markets, you develop a plan to pitch articles relating to your book’s theme and characters, you’re told to translate the arcane knowledge and language of Amazon and its algorithms, and determine which ads are better, Google or Facebook (the answer is yes, and the answer is also no). The many hats of the publicist resemble a beret.
You add Facebook writing groups, online book discussion groups, local writers’ groups, conferences, meetings, seminars, and training sessions. You design a book launch. You participate in a panel or give a talk. You discover there’s a mega-industry out there that’s totally focused on writers as a target audience. That industry has good advice, useless advice, and that seems to help only some. Trial and error works for the first book, but only for the first book. And there’s ongoing and (hopefully) subtle promotion. These are the Panama hats of writing, the hats that make everything appear effortless and carefree, while you privately obsess over everything that’s going wrong and every review that isn’t five stars. (But you look cool.)
The hat that can make sense of our writing lives isn’t really a hat at all. It resembles a hatless head – the bare head of the child of God. That’s the beginning and the end of writing. And it’s good to remember that bare head when we frantically change our baseball caps for bowlers, our bowlers for fedoras and berets, and our berets for Panama hats. It’s that bare head that counts most.Writers wear many hats – writer, marketer, publicist, speaker, panelist, researcher, and more. But there’s one “hat” that makes sense of it all. @gyoung9751 #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Glynn Young is a national award-winning speechwriter, communications practitioner, and novelist. He’s the author of four published novels, Dancing Priest, A Light Shining, Dancing King, and Dancing Prophet; the forthcoming Dancing Prince; and the non-fiction book Poetry at Work. Visit Glynn at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, his blog, the Dancing Priest book page, and his business website.
Great article—truth with a wry smile. Thanks!