Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to Support Your "Favorite" Writer

This post was inspired by a chapter in Terry Brooks’s wonderful book on writing, Sometimes the Magic Works.

”Sometimes, when you are a professional writer, when you have successfully published and no longer have to worry about breaking down doors, you still have to make the occasional hard choice, and one of the hardest is choosing between writing what compels you and writing what makes money.” (p.169)

Buy the books. If you can afford it, buy them as soon as they come out. Also, when you “discover” or are turned on to a new writer by someone else, buy as much of the backlist as possible. These sales impact whether or not a writer gets another contract, and whether or not you’ll get to read another book.

Talk/write about the books you like. If a book truly excites you, start a buzz about it on the internet.

If an author whose work you like makes an appearance near you, make the time to attend the event. We never “have” the time to do anything any more. That’s how we’re kept in line – make ‘em fight to stay alive and barely get through the day and they won’t have any energy left to make the world a better place.

You have to wrestle the time from something else.

The writer cared enough to write the book. Shouldn’t you care enough to respond? Especially if you go around saying you’re a fan?

Allow your favorite writer to try something new. Read it with an open mind. If you like it, be vocal about it. If you don’t, at least don’t punish the writer for experimentation. Not every book is going to work. A writer needs the room to expand, grow, and try new things, even if they don’t work.

There’s a difference between being a fan of a writer, which means you support the entire body of work, and being a fan of one particular storyline. Make sure you know the difference, own it and take responsibility for it.

If you were told you could only watch football and NEVER watch another sport again, how would you feel? Or that you could only wear green shoes, and never another color? Or only ever eat in the same restaurant and never try anything new?

Why shouldn’t a writer stretch creative wings? If you are a genuine fan, you’ll go along with it – even when it doesn’t work. Now, if the writer decides to go down a road book after book that appalls you, you have no obligation to go along. But at least give the writer a chance.

Demanding repetition isn’t being a fan. It’s being a prison guard. Is that the mark you want to leave on the world?


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