Being taken seriously as a writer is daunting

First timePUBLISHING? BE PREPARED TO ENJOY THE TINY DETAILS OF THE EXPERIENCE

We went to a concert tonight, Princeton Folk Music Society.

And one of the long-time members, a wonderful woman who was active in the folk music scene when I was still in diapers, brought over a copy of Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – and asked me to autograph it.

It was a curious sensation, being treated seriously by someone I love and respect, and have known a long time. She went to the trouble of ordering the print version, and of bringing it to the concert where she expected to see me.

A FAN, IN PERSON, IN AN UNEXPECTED PLACE

But then she started asking questions – about the biblical quotations, real questions about how I chose them and where they came from. I have epigraphs and chapter titles which are quotations from the Old and New Testament.

I explained that several came from the Book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible (she’s Jewish). Of course we have different versions, since I obtained permission to use the words of the King James Version, and her scriptures would not have a New Testament.

I chose the quotations I did because they resonated for me, knowing that my readers might be from very different backgrounds: the words can be taken at face value, but they always have a deeper meaning, and one that may take reading further into the chapter to understand.

But she told me she had been going online to find out where the quotations came from – and I never thought about how some educated people like her might be interested in quotations enough to check them out.

The epigraphs as a whole tell part of the story: some are commentary on the worldview represented by the main character, some are a little bit of extra backstory (such as when I quote books Kary has written).

In addition, there are two ‘group characters’ represented by the media quotes I created in the spirit of what I’ve seen online – those that are supportive of a particular artist and those that tend to pick a few entertainers and find nothing but critical comments to make about them. The source attributions for these are as imaginary as the characters they refer to – but the models are ‘torn from the headlines’ of print media and TV news shows. My friend won’t find these online.

LEARNING TO BE ONE OF THE WRITERS (the grownups)

A warm fuzzy place in my heart made me happy. I am now a ‘published author’ and my book is available in the marketplace of books. It’s not that it hasn’t been true since last Oct. 28, but that these little steps on the way to FEELING like a real author happen when you least expect them.

I check out the Amazon Reports – and see that SOMEONE is reading Pride’s Children, because the graph of KENP (pages read) is non-zero. Amazon reports how many pages people read on Kindle Unlimited, in fairly real time, updated when people get near their computer – and you can SEE the numbers grow, almost see the pages turning. And I don’t know who the someone is. It could be a complete stranger. It could be someone I reached via a comment, or an ad, or a personal recommendation. All weird. Good weird.

I’m too new at this to get jaded for a LONG time.

Do you find yourself taken aback when someone treats you seriously in connection with your writing?

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16 thoughts on “Being taken seriously as a writer is daunting

  1. Pearl Kirkby

    I’ve not had the experience in person (yet!) but have received comments from a few who ‘…heard about and then bout the book!” via Twitter, Instagram and Amazon reviews. It always leaves me flummoxed, in a ‘they liked it…yayyyy!’ kind of way!

    I’ll keep dreaming of the day someine comes up to and says, “Pearl Kirkby? Are you the same Pearl Kirkby that wrote (enter title here)?? And then hands me the book they just happen to have with them, and asks for an autograph.

    Til then, I’m just happy to know somebody’s reading it!

    Btw…if I’m ever in the area, I’ll be accosting YOU to autograph my copy of Pride’s Children, too!!

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’ve been approached ONCE in person – and it is an odd feeling, especially with your first book. Knowing the economics of a paper copy also feels weird.

      You have to get over it eventually, as this is the new world.

      I had to restrain myself from buying a bunch of copies and pressing them into potential readers’ hands – I think people commit to reading something a lot more if they choose it themselves!

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Pearl Kirkby

        Very true, and of course, with a first book, you have nothing to compare it with! Now that I’ve taken care of supplying my family members with kids, who are always counting their pennies, I’m just left with the angst of checking my sales updates on Amazon eleventy-seven times a day!!

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I was warned by more experienced writers to not do that; I did it anyway. It is unrewarding – and kept me from writing. I’m down to checking once or twice a day – even skip some days.

          Don’t worry – it is behavior that goes away if not rewarded regularly. Sigh.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      ETA: Oops! I think you mean to watch the GRAPH. I agree – except that it is still moving slowly enough I can see what is probably individual readers: if the count goes from zero to a total of 980+ over a day or two, that is usually one person reading.

      I’ll take what I can get – new writers who don’t spend gobs on promotion and give away a lot of free copies catch on slowly by word of mouth. I keep telling myself that’s fine, and what I expected, but it IS exciting to see someone READ – and you don’t get that any other place. Mainly, if someone buys a copy, you can’t tell if they are actually reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. Janna G. Noelle

    That sounds like a wonderful feeling and is one I hope to experience someday. Congrats!

    Although I have to say: “you can SEE the numbers grow, almost see the pages turning” – that seriously creeps me out knowing that the metrics contain that level of scrutiny.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      It’s not, really – you can only see it if only ONE person seems to be reading! That kind of feedback is not usually available. The KENP shows number of pages read that day, and is a moving target.

      BUT, if you’re just starting out, and don’t have many readers, this could happen – and it was interesting enough to record.

      I’d rather there were LOTS of people reading!

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I hope it takes off, and I get more used to all the details, but there’s a beginning for everything, and these days are mine.

      If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, jump right in – the water’s fine.

      If you already do this, you know what I mean.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. juliabarrett

    Rolls off my back like water off a duck. You get used to it. I stopped hearing it years ago. It’s okay. You’re new at this.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      My point precisely: if I don’t enjoy it now, I will miss it – and since everything needs to go into the experience bin, to be pulled out when I want it, I have to capture it IN WORDS right now, while I have it. My memory is useless.

      So I throw them out there as entertainment – but mostly I write them to lock them down.

      I am. VERY new. Painfully new. Which is an interesting feeling at my age.

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