Monday Writing Motivation: The quest for readers

 In Monday Motivation, Richard Beynon's blog

During our trip to South Africa earlier this year, Trish and I made the long drive from Cape Town to Johannesburg over two days. We stopped over in a b&b on the outskirts of a little town in the southern Free State called Springfontein. A melancholy air hung over the village. It didn’t look as if any development had taken place here for fifty years: the houses, while not derelict were for the most part replicas of the houses I remember from my childhood in another small, platteland town in the 1950s.

This is all by the by, because, while Springfontein might be trapped in the dusty amber of a previous era, in our car a frenzied debate was taking place about the future. Perhaps it should be called a seminar, or a colloquium, or a DIY tutorial, on indie publishing.

As I told you last week, I have decided, after several years of hesitation, to publish a series of collections of these dratted blogs of mine, arranged by theme (character, story, point of view, showing not telling, and so on) and kicking off with a volume of motivational pieces written on, or inspired by, our experiences during our aquatic adventures on rivers, canals, lakes and seas.

I’ve been writing these, as some of you know from bitter experience, for some thirteen years, and have accumulated well over 500 of them. Selecting the individual pieces for the different projected volumes, editing them, writing linking passages and – importantly! – devising the prompts and exercises for the workbooks that will accompany each collection, is a labour of delight which will engage my free time all this year and next.

I’ve offered you the chance to read a sampler of what’s to come already. If you haven’t taken advantage of that offer yet, I renew my invitation now. Click here for your free copy of Rocket Fuel for Your Writing: Inspiration and Motivation for Writers. Alternatively, or additionally, you could buy a hard copy of the same collection through The Great British Book Shop in the UK, or Takealot in South Africa.

But back to the colloquium.

It started as we hit the NI in Cape Town, with 1400 kilometres of highway before us. We had access to podcasts on the subject on Spotify, plus books available on Amazon dealing with key elements of the subject.

Why do I imagine that you might be even remotely interested in indie publishing? Because I’m assuming that you’re a writer who might at some stage become interested in seeking publication for novels or memoirs. Of course, you might already have written something you believe is publishable – but have had trouble finding a publisher who agrees with you.

Alternatively, you might be one of those people – and they are legion! – who dream about one day writing a book; or are simply fascinated by the whole business of writing and publishing.

Or you might be an entrepreneur who sees opportunities in turning your story ideas into either a modest stream of income or even a great gusher of cash.

Indie publishing – self-publishing, in other words – is steadily overtaking traditional publishing in terms of numbers of books published, revenues generated, and earnings for writers.

Which is why Trish and I were listening to Joanna Penn’s podcasts on topics like, how to build a list of superfans eager to promote your books to friends and acquaintances; how to use Bookfunnel to distribute your freebies (that’s how you got yours); how to sell books through multiple online retailers…

We bought a book by writer Tammi Labreque called Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert, which I read as Trish threaded our way along that 1400-km long highway.

Boring stuff, possibly, if you’re not actively planning to release books but invigorating and positively exciting if you are.

But underlying our exhilaration was the message that I want to communicate with all the authority at my command: writers these days are not “just” artists – they are, in fact, author-entrepreneurs.

Of course, we write for the joy of it. That’s as should be. The magic of words, their extraordinary capacity to generate in readers the feelings and thoughts that the writer wishes them to experience, this is why we write, and why it’s worth taking years honing our craft.

And yet writing is, somehow, even for the most casual writer, always more than a hobby. Because the writing project is never complete until readers read what we’ve written. And how do you get them to read what you’ve written?

Well, that is what our travelling seminar was all about.

We drove into Parkhurst in Johannesburg at half past three on Sunday afternoon, filled with fresh insights, renewed enthusiasm, and a determination to forge as many new relationships through my books as we can over the course of the next many years.

Happy writing,

Richard

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