I remember when I came out of the writer's closet. It was scary.
I had been working on my first fiction novel for a couple years. I had kept my writing to myself, only letting a handful of people know what I was doing. I was afraid to tell people I was writing because, well, first of all, what made me think I had something so great to say that I thought other people should pay to read it? And, what if I were really bad? I mean, I thought I was okay, but, what if I was a bad writer? I loved writing, and I was afraid I would be told I simply shouldn't do it.
So I was a closet writer. It was safe. And then I attended a writer's retreat. It was there that I met other writers. Some were published, some weren't, but all shared this love of writing that I felt inside. It was eye-opening and liberating. I realized there was a world of people and things waiting outside of my closet.
Soon after I returned home, before I even finished the first draft, I decided to take the plunge- to come out of my writer's closet and announce to the world that "I am a writer."
It was scary because, well, as a closet writer if I failed I failed in private. Out there in the world, if I fail, I might (notice how I didn't say will) fail in front of lots of people. And no one wants to do that. But, among the many things I learned at the writer's retreat was without risk, there is little reward in the writing world. And part of the risk is putting yourself out there. So, I waited until I was filled up with chocolate, and in the middle of the night last year, I left the safety of my closet and entered the scary world of self-promotion and marketing, and created an 'Author Facebook Account' and started friending people.
And guess what. People didn't laugh at me. In fact, the tremendous amount of support I received from old friends gave me the courage to make new friends and put myself out there more.
I created an 'Author FB Fan Page' and an 'Author Twitter Account,' too.
I joined a wonderful online writer's group, and attended my first writer's conference in February of this year, then another in May. I survived pitch sessions, took classes, and met lots and lots of amazing people.
I created my own website (this one), and even printed up business cards to pass around.
I didn't just come out of my writer's closet; looking back, it seems more like I slammed the door open and jumped out of the closet with ninja-speed. It's been an amazing journey since my closet liberation! No, I'm not published (yet) but I am better educated, more confident, and having a blast.
Some writers I've met along the way dread the marketing thing--the FB pages and accounts, Twitter and websites. Yes, it can be intimidating and even overwhelming. But, it is necessary.
During one of the classes at my first writer's conference, a publisher said, "The first thing we do when we get an unsolicited manuscript--even before we read it--is Google the author. If we can't find you on Google, there's a good chance we won't read your manuscript."
What! I know, right?
That's not the only reason to get your and your name out there, though. Through this whole experience, I have met some amazing and inspiring people--many of whom have become dear friends. I came blasting out of the writer's closet, and my life is better for it. I'd like to think that I am better for it, too.
So, don't look at marketing and self-promotion as selling yourself to others--think of it was opening yourself to people and opportunities that lie beyond your closet door.
There is also something to be said in the power of self-declaration. "I am a writer." There, I said it (typed it, really. But you get the picture.) At first I was sheepish in saying it, almost apologetic. But now, I own it and I love it. That came from saying it over and over in all these different ways.
So, are you still in your writing closet? Does your family know you write? Your friends? Co-workers, acquaintances? If a publisher were to Google you, could he/she find you? Would you want to be found?
If you are ready to come out of the writing closet, I say, "Go for it!" Take the plunge. I'll be your FB friend, your Twitter follower, your supporter, and your fan.
Blast those doors open and see what people and opportunities await.