By Bonnie Stanard
Writers are artists. Even in a league that includes musicians, painters, dancers, actors, and sculptors, we’re near the bottom when it comes to getting respect, whether that be media coverage or invitations to dinner. Some of us (read that Bonnie) were naïve enough to think our published book would be greeted with uproarious approval (Yes, uproarious…) with scores of sales and devoted fans (YES, fans!). My imagination got me into this absurdity.
Something I often forget is that art and business are partners. Even an inferior book can sell if it has the right business management. And a superior one can flop without it. We get respect not for writing a book, but for selling our ideas/inspiration/dreams to a general public. This is where the fat hits the fire.
The writer in me says I don’t want any part of business. I have to make an effort to participate in the writer’s life—the conferences and author events. I don’t like to make time to read book reviews and best sellers in my genre. The writer’s life, however, is where we grow professionally and gain the respect of our peers.
With the media promising us instant celebrity, we forget that most success stories start small and local. With that in mind, there are ways we can support ourselves and our community of writers.
Columbia’s annual Book Festival, coming May
17-19, is a good example. If you miss a convention center filled with people
who love books, you’re missing more than just the Festival.
The Free Times newspaper is doing us a favor. Charlie Nutt, who took over as publisher in December, has introduced a feature in the newspaper’s arts section dedicated to books either by local authors or about local topics. At the time I’m writing this, they feature six books on topics ranging from hospital reimbursements to Italian graffiti to a novel inspired by a 1909 SC court decision. Several weeks ago, I contacted the paper with information about my novel Kedzie, and they published a picture of the cover with a descriptive paragraph.
Whatever the difficulties we face today as writers, it’s not a time to be discouraged. This is the best time to write, the best time to be published, the best time to promote a book. As Fred Fields reminds me, we have “good stuff, like self publishing, not needing the approval from publishers, etc., as our predecessors had to have, free internet advertising, easier-to sell cheaper e-books, availability of associations like SCWW and a few good guys like Charlie Nutt.”