Do writers have responsibilities? If so, what are they? Do these differ from the responsibilities of, say, sculptors, painters, or photographers? And is there a different set of rules for those who write poetry versus those who write fiction?
Though I write in various forums, I’ll speak on fiction for this article. As an author, I do indeed have responsibilities. My first—and most important—responsibility is to know how to construct a sentence. This includes knowing proper punctuation, what and when to capitalize, and correct spelling. If the story in question begins with massive amounts of misplaced commas, run-on sentences, and poor spelling, I’m not likely to find an audience for my work.
Equally important is the need to tell a compelling tale. Nobody wants to read entire chapters with the main character searching for his car keys, getting coffee at Starbucks, or filling his tank with premium gasoline because that Porsche 911 is his baby. By compelling, I mean interesting; the sort of story that lures you in like a carnival barker just daring you to part with that dime, to look inside the tent, to glimpse the man with lizard skin covering his body.
I try to write reality. If a scene is meant to be dark and raw, I intend to make the reader feel somewhat uncomfortable, even voyeuristic. In one particular review of Jazz Baby, the reviewer mentioned feeling a need for a shower upon finishing the story. I don’t take offense at this notion, I revel in it.
Are your characters real? Are they fully developed and breathing on the pages? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Weak characters make for a weak story. I’ve read books that were thin on plot but still managed to keep me interested by presenting amazing characters. We won’t find fully formed characters in lengthy physical descriptions, either. We find them in personality traits, quirks, nervous habits, and in the things that make them happy or angry.
We also have the responsibility to get it right. Get what right? I’m glad you asked. If you’re writing a story set in the mid-1970s, would you insert a character discussing the pros and cons of using Google Chrome on your laptop? What about a story where Grandma speaks of meeting Grandpa on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in the spring of 1921? Maybe Cousin Lexie, in a poignant scene, reminisces about watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory under the stars, at a drive-in movie, back during the summer of 1956. None of these events could happen in real life. Google Chrome and laptops didn’t exist in the 1970s. Construction on the Empire State Building didn’t begin until early 1930. The Gene Wilder classic film saw release in 1971, not 1956. Don’t put your lead character in a 1990 Ford Pinto. Do your research, get the facts straight.
The biggest responsibility we carry as writers is to entertain those who would spend hard earned money and valuable time in reading what we’ve created. Just because I think my story is interesting doesn’t mean others will.
We are indie authors. Indie is short for independent. Our souls aren’t contractually bound to some monster corporation that basically owns what we’ve worked long and hard to create. But neither do we have access to said monster’s deep pockets for advertising, public relations, and connections to people like Oprah Winfrey, The Ellen Show, or any of the late night gabbers. We’re not likely to find our work climbing the New York Times bestseller list. We must seek out those tools for ourselves—and usually with limited budgets.
Thankfully, we have the internet. This amazing invention literally brings the entire world to our very fingertips. There isn’t a nation or continent we cannot reach—unless we’re talking about, say, North Korea. Does anybody really want to be Dear Leader’s favorite writer? It’s mind-blowing to hear from somebody on the other side of the planet sharing their thoughts about something I wrote. This is the real reward for the author—in my humble opinion.
But let’s face facts: Just having a Twitter account or a Facebook page won’t make us internationally-known authors. Sure, social media does help. We establish our own little corner of the web through the bread crumbs we sprinkle using tweets and likes. However, we are competing with 100 million other writers scattered across the globe.
There is another tool, though. This tool is the wave of the future. And it grows bigger by the day. I’m talking about Rave Reviews Book Club. Why a book club? I’m glad you asked. RRBC isn’t just your average ordinary book club. It is an online worldwide community for supporters of the growing indie movement. This is the place to find readers for your work. It is also the place to find great novels, memoirs, and books of poetry—at reasonable prices. That’s right, it offers something for readers and writers alike.
How far you go is entirely up to you. If you support many, many will support you right back. Those who join looking to get support without giving it will find a stocking full of nothing come Christmas morning.
Rave Reviews Book Club is the brainchild of Founder/President Nonnie Jules, an indie author herself. RRBC is designed to grow the author’s name and presence on the internet. The club offers all sorts of amazing tools to help indies succeed. What are those tools? Well, writers get their books (linked to Amazon) added to the club’s online catalog. Supportive members find themselves sitting in any one of the amazing seats of honor up for grabs each month. We’re talking about three slots for Books of the Month, Member of the Month, Member of the Week, PUSHTUESDAY winners, and, of course, the many Rave Waves BlogTalkRadio programs the club produces each and every month. Imagine being interviewed live, speaking to a worldwide audience, while discussing your latest book for a full thirty minutes!
It’s simple: Club members buy, read, and review fellow members’ books. They tweet links to those stories they’ve enjoyed. And just maybe, if you’re super supportive, you’ll find yourself being hosted by fellow members on their blogs.
Listen, most of us indie authors aren’t indie by choice. Without an agent, the monster corporations can’t be bothered with what we’ve created. They often view us as inferior to the mainstream. That’s where responsibility comes into play. Write it well, get it right, and entertain your readers. It’s really that simple. The work will sell the author.