The Best Part of Being a Writer

I’ve spent the past month (longer) preparing for the release of Bite Somebody Else. Last year, it was the same story for my debut, Bite Somebody. I can now say I have successfully launched two novels into the world with the help of my publishing house World Weaver Press and my editor Trysh Thompson. What have I learned?

Launching the book is literally the hardest part of the authoring process.

Sure, it’s fun doing interviews because we all like talking about ourselves (or, in my case, expounding over why Benedict Cumberbatch is my muse). It’s fun doing book signings, especially when you get to rub elbows with author friends and people who’ve known you since you were a fetus. The positive reviews are fabulous. The social media explosion is, frankly, alarming. It’s all very magical, and yet, it’s the most draining, terrifying, and stressful experience of my life because I am a writer and all I want to do most days is write.

You see the conundrum.

In order to be a successful writer, one must take part in book signings (in public AHHH), guest blogs, retweets, advertising campaigns, interviews (on video AHHH), and more and more until you think you’re going to go quite mad. As a population, most of us writer folks are introverts, so this is daunting as hell. But we do it because promotion is one of the biggest parts of being a writer—and the most difficult.

The week of my final Bite Somebody Else signing, I realized I hadn’t written anything creative in a very long time. I was losing my mind. I saw some romance publishers were looking for erotic novellas, so I started writing. I wrote, and I felt sane again. In fact, I felt amazing. I realized writing is the best part of being a writer. Sounds obvious, right? It wasn’t until now.

See, I’ve been writing for years. I always figured the best part of being a writer would be the ego boost of a book launch and the excitement of meeting fans face to face (which is great, don’t get me wrong). I thought that publishing a book would bring me all sorts of joy—and it has—but not the kind of joy I feel when I’m hunched over my computer all alone, laughing at my own jokes.

Writing is a solitary thing. Writers are solitary people. Expecting us to be promoters and social butterflies is ludicrous, but we do it because we have to. The world we live in requires writers to not just craft sentences but craft personas. We need to be out there on social media and at conventions, and we do it—because we must. However, at the end of the day, the thing that brings me the most joy is writing words that become sentences that become paragraphs.

Having now launched two novels, I’ve come to realize the things I always thought would make me happy—fortune and fame—won’t make me happy. Am I rich and famous right now? No, but I’ve had a taste of both at book signings and on release day. It feels good to be appreciated, but compliments sometimes make me want to hide. Ask my editor Trysh: the only thing that keeps me standing and smiling at book conventions is beer. Once I’m allowed to stop smiling, I hide in my hotel room.

I just want to write. I want to sit on my ass every day and tell stories—even if those stories never get published. There is something so fulfilling about creation. (In fact, I’m pretty sure creation feels a lot better than birth.) Writing is the best part of being a writer. What a relief to remember.

Rust City 2016: Why do we go to book conferences?

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Last Thursday, I told my husband I was terrified. I had to drive up to Detroit for the very first Rust City Book Con, and I did not want to go. I wanted, in fact, to curl into a tiny ball and cry all weekend. Instead, I had a four hour drive, followed by three days of panels, workshops, and socializing.

Jake, ever patient, said, “You’re going to have fun.”

Of course, he was right. I arrived at Rust City Friday morning, one workshop already under way. The organizer met me barefoot and with a smile, which made me think, “Okay, if Jackie’s barefoot, I’m going to be all right.” (Don’t ask me why this was so comforting, but it was.) Then, fellow author Cali helped me carry stuff up to my hotel room. I’d made a friend.

I sat in on some panels that morning and learned fantastic things about character motivation and the industry. I laughed with other audience members. During the long lunch, I had a beer and was invited to join a table of women with whom I immediately fit. I could cuss and say silly things, and they laughed. They actually LAUGHED.

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Pin the fangs on Bela!

Over the course of the weekend, I sat on some panels of my own. I gave an 8 AM workshop on planning the novel. I did a book signing. A fan ran up and called me “Ms. Bauer,” which made me giggle because no one calls me that. I organized a “Pin the Teeth on Bela Lugosi” game, because why not? I sold some books, but mostly, I guess I networked.

As authors, why do we go to book conferences? Since Rust City was my first as an official author person (thanks to Bite Somebody), I wasn’t sure going in. Now, I think I’m getting an idea as to why conferences are necessary.

It’s not for the money. I did not come close to breaking even, when you consider travel costs, conference costs, and oh, beer costs. Although I learned a few things, the conference was not about education for me, as most of the topics discussed were things I already knew.

Networking? Yes. I think we go to book conferences to network. I was lucky enough to have breakfast with one lovely lady who plans to refer me to her agent. I met authors who think like me, write like me. I have a cornucopia of new Facebook and Twitter pals, and yes, I found a few new readers.

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Roselynn and me

However, maybe just maybe, we authors go to book conferences to feel not so alone. Yes, as writers, we are “high-functioning introverts.” New soul mate Roselynn had a shirt that said, “I’m Done Peopling Today.” I get it; I hid in my hotel room as often as was appropriate.

Despite our general tilt toward the anti-social, though, we need each other because we need to talk about writing. We need to talk about books we love. We need to talk about rejection and how much it can suck being an author, even once you’ve been published.

It’s wonderful to meet our readers, but it’s wonderful to meet other authors, too, and commiserate. And for those of us who write about sex, how nice to have our jokes actually land.

I made the mistake of leaving Rust City Saturday night. I had a lovely, wonderful dinner with old Detroit friends, until a lady at the table behind us complained about me saying “orgasm” in public. Funny how empty it feels when you’re no longer surrounded by “your people.”

I drove home yesterday completely exhausted and “done peopling.” I have a stack of new books to read. I have new friends across the country to keep in touch with. For my first book con as a published author, I’ll call this one a win, not because I made any money but because I felt the love. I laughed. I connected. That’s what Rust City Book Con was really about.

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