Jul 19 2011
This week my guest is the ultra cool Ranee Dillon. She is an aspiring author, blogger, prose poet, and proud mother of three beautiful children. Ranee is currently bi-coastal, splitting her time between California, Virginia, and West Virginia. Aside from writing and her children, Ranee is passionate about helping aspiring writers develop their voice and encouraging them to seek publication.
Welcome, Ranee. It is such a pleasure to have you as my guest this week. Please, tell us a bit about yourself.
Morning, sweetie. I’m a proud mother of three beautiful children and one grandbaby. In my not so off time I’m busy writing, blogging, and tweeting. My current project is a fantasy adventure novel called The Binding of Twelve. It’s scheduled for completion this August. When I actually have free time, I love to listen to music, hop in the car and get lost on country roads, and there’s my small (read: out of control) Twitter addiction.
Your current work-in-progress (WIP) sounds quite intriguing. Can you share any of it with us?
The Binding of Twelve is a planned series following the adventures of 20-year old Allison Binder. She lives in a small town in the eastern United States called Willow Creek with her “crazy” grandmother. Allison learns through a series of bizarre events that the folklore stories about a distant clan are true. After tragedy strikes, she must decide to follow her “people” on a quest to destroy the evil Iska or use the power of the Binding objects to fulfill her destiny.
Finding a supportive writing community is such an integral part of nearly every writer’s life. Sometimes, that is easier said than done for some people. What are some of the ways you would recommend that a writer develop his/her presence in the writing community?
As a budding writer, I needed to find ways to connect with people like me. Let’s face it, writers are a different breed and only we can truly understand the struggle with word counts and editing. I was fortunate enough to stumble across social media early in my writing career. If I don’t start by mentioning Twitter, it’s quite possible an angry mob will begin to form in the feed.
The journey began when I entered Twitterverse sometime in August 2010. Initially, I followed publishers and agents, and then branched out to other struggling writers/poets. From there, I learned about writing/critique groups as well as finding valuable writing resources.
Bottom line, if you’re a writer looking for support plug into social media. Drink it up with your morning coffee and pass a few cups out to the stream.
Okay, so I have this blog. It’s a way for the cool peeps out there to get to know me (and the fine company I keep.) Many writers have blogs, and many don’t. Some people are way more comfortable with blogging than others. Some don’t feel it is necessary. Can you explain why blogging is so important for writers?
Writing today is about visibility. Sure, you can write an epic novel and pound the query pavement, but the question on every agent and publishers mind today is “where are you?” Meaning, where and how have you promoted your writing career to this point.
The budget for marketing is tight. Built-in readership is a must when you begin to approach agents. This is where blogging comes in. A writer with a blog brings to the table a built-in readership which translates to a foothold on some part of the market.
A secondary bonus is that people get to know your writing style. This builds a relationship and expectation to see more. It also creates one of the largest marketing forces available: Word of Mouth. Agents use this tool when presenting your work to publishers.
Example: “She’s a new author, but she has a substantial following in social media and blogging.” Publishers see built-in marketing and readership. Translation: Less money they have to spend in order to promote your book.
Let’s talk about social media. How does it help a writer build a readership?
The writing universe is jumping into the digital world like lemmings off a cliff. Given that social media is about interaction through writing it makes sense. For us writers, it’s about exposure. How do we get our work out past the bubble to reach the masses?
Enter social media. Imagine millions of people all over the world in one place waiting to be entertained. They’re begging someone, anyone to take them out of the reality of bills, kids, and long hours of grinding work. In order to build a readership, we simply have to be there with a little fantasy or funny when they hit the power button. I think that comes about as close to writing heaven as it gets.
Although most people use social media, lots of peeps still don’t understand it or really know why Twitter is so different from Facebook. Can you talk about this?
I put Twitter and Facebook into two distinct categories: interaction and promotion.
Twitter can be used for promotion, but I think its main purpose is to interact with your readership and fellow writers. This is a place people can come to meet the “you” outside the book. As you build personal relationships, people will develop a connection which allows loyalty will grow past the page.
Facebook is the perfect place to create an “about the author” website without the hassles of web design…or the cost. Use it to create an author snapshot, post your latest work, and respond to comments that aren’t blog post specific.
I know that “authenticity in tweeting” is something you feel strongly about. Please, enlighten us.
Mind if I bubble dance for a minute? Sorry, had to get that out.
I’m not sure writers understand how important authentic tweeting is when building a following. Our first instinct is to create a persona. I mean we’re writers, right? We spend countless hours creating fictional characters for stories. So I understand the instinct, but if the goal is publishing we have to think ahead.
Whether going traditional or hitting the Indie trail, we will meet with our readers in person at some point. If you’ve created a persona that is bubbly, witty, and interactive while tweeting they’ll expect to see that same person. It goes back to building personal relationships and loyalty.
Imagine, though many of us don’t need to, meeting a quirky, bubbly writer you’ve spent time getting to know in twitterverse. Your head tells you they can’t possibly be the same in person, even though your heart hopes you’re wrong. They sit down at the table for lunch and as you begin to talk they lean back, withdrawn. The more you engage, the less they say and pretty soon you’re looking at the clock trying to force the hands to move.
How do you feel? Deceived? My point here is in order to build readership loyalty you need to be yourself. When they meet you at a book signing or on the street, they’re expecting to find the product purchased with time and energy. As a writer in the ever expanding world of social media, the product you’re selling is yourself not your book.
(Antelope Valley, California)
I’d love to get your input on dressing a manuscript for submission. Many writers do their own editing because they can’t afford a professional. Many don’t bother to properly format their work for myriad reasons. In what ways do you feel that a writer can best create a readable manuscript and maximize his/her chances of success?
The questions I ask people: How would you show up to an interview? Would you wear jeans and a tee shirt?
My point is the first interview you have with an agent is through your manuscript. Sending it off with grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors is like showing up in jeans and a tee. Now, I understand money is tight for everyone, especially writers. If you can’t afford an editor then search for quality beta readers who understand basic writing conventions and grammar.
As for the formatting, that’s pretty simple; open the last few novels you read. Look at the dialog structure, how and when the writer adds description, and where they start and stop chapters. This will give you a baseline for proper formatting. Sometimes it helps to be genre specific, because writing flow and format change slightly depending on the subject.
Number one most important thing: read and reread your manuscript until your eyes bleed (a little graphic, I know) and then trust the rest to the writing gods.
The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?
It’s difficult to predict the flow of most changing markets. Having said that, I don’t foresee publishers shutting down. While it’s true the digital world is quickly taking the book scene by force, people still like holding a good book in their hands. Nothing beats the smell and crack as you open it up to fall into those first few words.
I suspect, at some point, publishers will dip into the Indie market more. Most people who publish Indie already have a marketable readership built in. As budgets decrease the appeal of taking on the self motivated and educated Indie authors should grow. I mean, why spend marketing dollars when you have someone willing to put in the time and effort? Of course, this all depends on the quality of writing and the effort put into creating a polished final product.
If you could have a dinner party and invite your favorite fictional characters, who might we see seated around the table?
Don’t I already have enough people in my head? You want me to add more?
I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?
I can’t agree more, sweetie. I tend to be picky about little things. Such as my coffee needs to have the right balance of cream and sugar before I’ll drink it. Clean sheets with none of those little fuzz balls is an absolute must for me to sleep. But the single biggest thing is my writing environment. I need a certain type of music depending on the subject and no distractions to interrupt my zone time.
Where can people find you in cyberspace?
Look me up for some chirpy chatter here on Twitter.
Interested in light reading? Please visit my blog.
Want to spend some quality friend time? Find me on Facebook.
Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?
First, I want to thank you, sweetie, for allowing me the opportunity to chat with your wonderful audience.
Second, Be yourself, always. Follow your heart; it knows you better than you think. Never let anyone suggest you’re not a writer, because even if you’re just scribbling notes on the corner of a napkin you’re writing. Who really knows where the next epic novel will come from? For all we know it could be a bunch of notes scribbled on a napkin hiding in the glove box.
Now go on out there and take over the world you talented writer you!