Up until a few years ago, I always struggled with the criticism I’d receive about my writing. Whether it was my editor pointing out grammatical or content errors or it was a bad book review panning the writing, or something else, I wouldn’t always handle it gracefully. I think most, if not all writers, go through similar struggles. Our writing is our creative expression, are intellectual children and we feel protective of it, see it as something special…and it is, but nonetheless it’s also something which can always be improved on. Additionally how we handle criticism is important, because the professional connections we have will remember if the author has acted like a prima donna or has handled the criticism in a professional manner.
Recently a professional acquaintance shared a story with me about an author who’d gotten some bad reviews of her books and had blamed everyone else but herself for the quality of writing. This person was unwilling to examine her own writing or the criticism she received in an objective manner. Instead she took the criticism personally. As a result she wasn’t actively working on improving her writing and when another opportunity came for her to feature her writing elsewhere, other people remembered her behavior and didn’t want to offer her that chance because it was clear that her writing and her attitude still hadn’t improved.
Now ideally we all want constructive criticism, which points out what could be improved and offers some suggestions to that effective. However, as writers we necessarily need to accept we won’t always get constructive criticism. And when we don’t get constructive criticism, we need to have a thick skin and more importantly be able to look at the criticism and determine if anything of value can be gotten from it that can help us improve our writing. It’s not easy to do, but what I’ve found is helpful is reminding myself that what’s most important to me is improving the quality of my writing…so when I receive negative criticism, I look at it with that lens and determine if there is any valuable insights. If so, I’ll take them and use them and if not, I’ll move on, because there’s little point in dwelling on the issues that other people have with your writing.
As a writer you need to accept that not everyone will like your writing, nor does everyone need to. As long as you can accept that, you will be able to handle whatever criticism comes your way. Remember as well that most criticism isn’t personal and when it is, it has less to do with you and much more to do with whatever reaction your writing brought up for the person reading it.
The other day my friend Shauna told me a discovery, which highlights how Facebook is becoming more antagonistic to small businesses, creatives etc., and also less useful. She’d been promoting a concert and workshop for Sharon Knight on Facebook and had created a Facebook event page and invited people to it. She shared it on her personal page as well as on other pages, but what she discovered is that most of her friends didn’t even see the event share in their newsfeed. The only way they saw it is if they visited her personal page directly. Then she told me how she hadn’t seen a Facebook event share I did until she visited my personal page. Further discussion revealed that if the words buy or show or something else sales related are used in an update, its much less likely that people will see the update.
If you are someone who has a Facebook business page, you already know that the business page is next to useless. You can have lots of likes, but only have a post get through to a small percentage of those likes. The reason that happens is because Facebook is trying to get you to pay money to boost the post. However even paying money to boost the post doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach a significant amount of other people you weren’t reaching before. With the changes to event sharing, Facebook is again trying to get you to pay money to get your post in front of the eyes of people. So what can you do?
I tried an experiment where I wrote about an event and posted it and then posted a comment with the link to event. Apparently more people did see that post, because the link wasn’t in the original post. That could be something to try as a way to get around Facebook metrics. However, I also think its fair to say that Facebook is becoming less and less useful for marketing purposes, and whether you’re an author, musician, artist, or small business, the reality is that every dollar needs to count in a big way if you’re going to make the most of it. Facebook marketing isn’t what its cracked up to be, so while you can do it, I recommend exploring alternate approaches as well, depending on whatever event you are trying to do. I’ve found that flyers, if used correctly, can actually do a lot to generate interest in an event, but some of that involves conversations with whoever is hosting your event.
In my previous post on working with bookstores, I shared some tips for how to work with a bookstore that can make an event successful. Since the I’ve been thinking of some other ways to help this process along. Both the author and the bookstore want the event to be successful, but in order for that to occur, there needs to be specific communication that occurs, as well as proper strategizing and implementation of marketing to make sure the event is successful. These additional tips can help you and the bookstore put together a mutually successful event.
1. Create a written contract that spells out the responsibilities of the bookstore and author. Both the bookstore and author and have certain responsibilities that need to be spelled out. Each plays a role in making the event successful, but if neither party is clear on what the expectations are, then mis-communication can occur and the event may not be as successful as a result. It’s crucial that the author develops a contract that explains what s/he will do and also details the expectations s/he has of the store. Both the author and bookstore need to sign off on the contract before anything else occurs, so that way each party knows what is expected of them. Bookstore Author Agreement.
2. Marketing calls need to occur regularly to make the event successful. Ideally you and the bookstore owners are talking once a month, up to three months in advance, strategizing over what needs to be done and checking in with each other about pre-registrations and other relevant details. The final month, you actually have a chat on the phone two weeks and one week before the event. These conversations don’t have to be long, but they do need to happen in order for everyone to be on the same page, and to make sure that if anything needs to change, it can be changed while there is still time. This also helps you and the store owners make sure that they have what they need in terms of books, flyers, etc well ahead of the actual event.
3. Double check the dates of your event to make sure you aren’t competing against other events. The bookstore owners should either know if there will be a conflict with the date OR they should know someone they can point you to who can tell you if your event might compete against another event. While it’s inevitably true that not everyone will come to your event, you increase your chances of getting people into the event when your date is scheduled if you aren’t competing against other events that locals might feel obligated to go to.
These additional tips can make a difference for your event and help both you and the book store be successful.