Today, Carrie Mesrobian and I finished recording our second podcast. The podcasts are fun, mostly me and Carrie gabbing, talking about sex and books. But for all the fun they are, they're also time-consuming. You gotta edit and futz with GarageBand and iTunes and duel-engine flux capacitors (okay, that last part is a lie), not to mention prepping topics and a basic script and the website and other stuff like reading books to talk about. So, it's not exactly a breeze. BUT, at the same time, we both agreed early on when we had the idea for it that it was a two-fold win because a) it was women producing content which we don't think happens nearly enough, and b) it was promoting books we love.
Which is the topic of today's blog for me: Being a good literary citizen. Let's face it, we all know that writing/editing/publishing your book is in no way the end of the pipe line. Yes, there's promotion (sigh), but there's also becoming part of the literary community. Other writers, editors, bloggers, librarians, etc., these are your colleagues. We don't, in point of fact, exist in a bubble as a writer. We have colleagues, and God love the Internet, we actually have access to these colleagues on a regular basis. And that is an amazing thing.
First, because your colleagues can provide all sorts of juicy water cooler talk about what agent is looking for what, what editor is super great to work with, etc. But more importantly, your colleagues can provide great support. And this is something that is awesome to see because we are all in the business of GETTING PEOPLE TO READ BOOKS. Every single one of us has one job more important than all the others: promoting reading.
So to that end, here's my quick list of ideas to become a better literary citizen:
1. Read books and talk about them in your world (whether that world is online or real life). Added bonus: reading is sexy so it might get you a date, or at least make you less awkward when everyone is talking about The Walking Dead and you don't even have cable, because at least you've read the graphic novel.
2. Buy gifts that are books. I'm THAT friend. I'm also unapologetically THAT mom. I buy books for every birthday party my kids are invited to. I have never not done this. If we're invited, you're getting books. Sorry, not sorry.
3. Go to events that authors are at. Look, events can be a tricky gig. You never know if anyone is going to show up. And since lots of writers are introverts, it takes a lot to get them to the event in the first place. It's awesome if you go to those events as much as you can. You can also meet colleagues in REAL life and that is a good thing. If you're not sure about local events, I highly recommend reaching out to your local indie if you have one and finding out about their calendar of author events and if they've got none, maybe gently suggest that this is great for selling books and bringing authors and readers together. Everyone wins!
4. Help younger writers, new writers, writers who are still finding their way. You have no idea how amazing it has been for me having great authors lift me up on their shoulders. I am wholly unworthy of it and they've done it anyways and this will be something I'll never forget and hope I can do for someone else one day.
5. Go to your library and use it as a resource. Promote your library's programming however you can. If there's a referendum to give money to the library, VOTE FOR IT. Your library is the center of so many people's worlds. Make it part of yours. And while you're there, ask for books you love to be shelved there because there's a good chance the library will order them.
6. Be gracious, forgive often, try harder, fail, do better. This is basically a life motto but I think approaching the literary world this way is a good start. We're all making a go of something that isn't easy. We're all trying to encourage reading in our own ways. If what you're doing isn't encouraging reading, try to work a little harder in that area.
Because I want to be a good literary citizen, here are three recent reads of mine that I really enjoyed: Gayle Forman's I WAS HERE, I.W. Gregorio's NONE OF THE ABOVE (this is still an ARC but you can preorder it), Natalie Parker's BEWARE THE WILD. Go forth and check out/buy/discuss.