Friday, April 13, 2018

Building a Community

Lucy the Wonder Weenie
Story Time
Tribe includes humans, animals, insects

Today I'm going to propose something radical.

A different way of looking at a writing/publishing career. 

Instead of focusing on SELLING BOOKS, how about focusing on BUILDING A COMMUNITY?

Over the past few years, the focus in romance publishing has become very business-oriented. I see cheat sheets for how to make a best-seller list. I see a frenzied sense of urgency about how often to publish, how much to spend on advertising and promotion, how important it is to jump on band-wagon trends.

I also see a focus on short-term sales and success and not the long-term. 

I see advice like...you need to have readers' attention every three months or they forget about you. 

What if...they didn't forget about you?

Not because of your book release schedule...but because they genuinely like you?

How about that crazy idea?


Whoa. That's crazy!

Everything feels faster, and more stressful, and more urgent.


But what if...you look at long-term happiness instead of short-term sales?

What if you focus on BUILDING A COMMUNITY instead of promoting your books all the time?

A community that will last. Not just readers looking for cheap/free books or the next deal. But a genuine community of people who are interested in YOU. Whether or not you have a book out. 

Maybe those people you interact with won't mind if you don't have a book out every 3 months. Maybe they'll just want to hang out with you and see pictures of your garden or dog or latest vacation. 

Maybe they like chatting with you about books by other authors.

Your community should include colleagues who are genuine friends and not just interested in tit-for-tat relationships. (What's that? This: I promote your book, you promote my book...otherwise, I'm not interested in having a relationship with you).

What would happen if you did this? Focused on your community first?


PROS OF BUILDING COMMUNITY

1. Set up for long-term success. Can weather the ups-and-downs of a long-term career.

2. It enhances your life regardless of publication schedule.

3. It is beneficial in both personal and professional ways.


BUILDING A COMMUNITY means you are focused on real relationships, not just selling books.

It improves not only the quality of your life, but it will also bolster your long-term career.

Your professional life will have ups and downs. Having a strong community to support you = resilience over time.

How can you build a genuine community? 

You need to assemble your tribe.

Our tribes should enhance our lives. We should be able to share things--both good and bad--and trust that our tribe members are loyal and have our best interests at heart.

Sometimes we want to share things that are silly and inconsequential. Like Tom Hiddleston pictures.
Having a good day?
And sometimes we need to talk about profoundly important things. Either way our tribe members keep us going, keep us inspired, keep our spirits up.

Your tribe will change over time, depending on what you need, and what you can give. You may need to edit your community.

You gather around the tribe you need, the tribe that feels right. The tribe that fits.

Writing is a lonely occupation. There is a lot of isolation. It feels like swimming in shark-infested waters, and that's when having your tribe is the most important.

They throw you the life raft when you need it most.
Don't worry. You got this!
Younger writers are thinking about the here-and-now and the latest news and the latest trends.

Authors who have been in this business for decades have seen trends come and go, but they realize your longevity has to do with other things.

Good basic writing. An excellent story. Luck.

And...personal connections. Your tribe. Your community.

There is really no down-side to building a community. It's there when you have a book out. It's there when you have writer's block.

It's there when your fig tree finally gets a fruit!


Figs for dinner!
It's there for the long-run. 

If you work on building your community and maintaining those relationships, your life will be better regardless of book sales.

And that's a good thing.

So very appreciative of my posse/tribe/community,

Penny/Nina

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