I joined a writers’ group four years ago, just after I finished “Der Reizen” and just as I was getting started on “Sweet on Death”. If I hadn’t joined the group, both books would still be sitting, gathering dust, in the binders where I put the printouts. Instead, I found the courage, through the encouragement of my fellow writers, to consider getting published.
One of the nicest parts of the group is that everyone shares their experiences with publishers, agents, writing, and all manner of things language-related. It was at one of the meetings that I learned of Kellan Publishing.
I also learned to find my ‘voice’, my own way of using words to get my point across. We have word games and small writing drills as well as time to read out loud our most recent works. I learned a lot from listening to the other writers read their stories. I learned new words and new ways of putting words together. I learned to critique work without being rude or negative.
The most important thing I learned was that everything I did, every story I wrote, no matter what voice I used, every drabble, every piece of writing I did was a part of who I am. My voice, the words I use, the phrases and sentence structures are what makes me an individual writer. They are, in short, what I advertise when I advertise my books and stories. They have a name for that. Branding.
Author branding is just like names at the grocery store – Tide, Colgate, Kleenex, and so on – and they mean the same thing. My ‘product’ is my story. My brand is my author name. If I were to give you a list of genres, you could probably list off at least one or two authors who are good in that genre. Or I could list the names of authors and you could immediately identify what genre they write. That is because of their branding. In the writers’ group, I learned about some of those different authors, both by their names and their genres. I learned about the importance of making myself unique in the crowded literary world.
One of the things every writer has to learn is to promote themselves. We keep getting told not to “blow our own horn”, but that’s exactly what is needed. By listening to the writers in the group telling me what I did right, I learned the words I needed to promote myself. Of course, hearing what I was doing wrong also helped me. I learned how to improve my ‘product’.
There are so many books out there, past, present and future. I will do my best to see that the writers’ group I belong to lasts many more years, for no other reason than I need to give back to the writing community what I learned from them. We are not only writers, but we are teachers and role models, too.