Thursday, March 6, 2014

MY GENRE: GENERAL FICTION, BUT MORE

When I wrote HOW I GREW UP, I wrote it because it was a story that needed to be told. It was a story I had been a part of. I had always wanted to write a book. You’ve heard all this before. Once I had completed the book, I wanted to see it in print and fairly quickly, so I opted to pay a Print On Demand company to publish it for me. I was happy with their services and with the fee, which was quite reasonable. It was exciting to see my book … MY book! … listed on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. It was exciting when people started telling me how much they had enjoyed reading my book. I especially liked that they found it a “page-turner.”

Even before HOW I GREW UP was in print I had started writing ELI’S HEART, and have nearly completed work on my second book. Right now I am very busy with a high school musical production, so ELI’S HEART is going to sit quietly on my computer for a few weeks. Once BYE BYE BIRDIE has hit the boards at East Stroudsburg High School South, hopefully with much success, I will print out ELI’S HEART and read it. I will no doubt make changes, even though I have rewritten this book several times over during the process.

I love writing. I loved writing both of these books, and found I could immerse myself in the story I was living as I wrote about it. Now I find I’d like more people to read my books. What I’m trying to learn is how to market them. Amazon, after all, seems to have well over a million books … maybe closer to two million … listed on their website. Mine is one of very, very, VERY many books. My new goal: become a writer people like and want to read.

How to do this? I’ve learned that whether you are successful in securing a contract with a major publisher (a process that can literally take years) or choose to be an independent writer, unless you are John Grisham or Stephanie Meyers or Stephen King, you have to do your own promotion. One thing I frequently read is “write another book.” If people liked my first book, it seems the idea is they will want to read the second, and tell more people about it. I also am advised by these same writing gurus I need a “platform.” So my current quest is to figure out my platform. I just read that the basis for a writer’s platform is the writer’s stories, images, beliefs, and emotions that stem from her core philosophy. The other part of the platform is finding ways to reach readers in whom my writing strikes a chord (pun intended).

What do my two books have in common? Music, and how it can touch and change people’s lives. In the case of HOW I GREW UP, music and a musical theater production help a high school girl deal with a horrific tragedy. In ELI’S HEART, music brings a young man and the love of his life together, and helps them deal with the challenges they face living with his defective heart and the probability of his early death.

One of my favorite quotes, by my favorite composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff: “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is never enough for music.” I’ve often said to my voice students, “I am so grateful that I’ve been able to live a life filled with music.” Something else I’ve said to them: “You don’t choose music. It chooses you.” As a high school student, I gave serious thought to majoring in history in college … for about fifteen minutes. I knew I belonged to music. My years at the College-Conservatory of Music were in some ways the best years of my life.

So now I think I have the basis of my platform as a writer: The power of music in a life, or two lives, or a group, or the universe. And people who share this belief, this feeling, are the people who will appreciate reading what I’ve written. They aren’t a particular demographic so they will perhaps not be easy to find. Hopefully, they will find me, and HOW I GREW UP, and ELI’S HEART, and whatever else I have time to write. Because I certainly will continue to write! Maybe non-fiction next?