The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 272
A Short One Today
Sorry about that, but I needed to make a quick trip down to Ashland, Oregon, a trip which could not be avoided, so the Mailbag is a bit short today. Such is life. I tried to get to all the questions which were submitted, but if I missed any in haste I apologize. I’ll do better next week.
Kids are returning to school, the heat of summer is at least shortened by the early setting of the sun, there is a hint of fall in the air in the early mornings, and the Farmers Almanac has issued its winter forecast. Another year is coming to an end, leaving many of us to wonder how 2019 could have passed so quickly.
Now we turn our attention to the holidays, heaven forbid, and all the preparations we have to make before the snows arrive and the sun no longer provides us with the heat we need.
Such is life!
Let’s do this Mailbag before melancholy spreads like wildfire.
A Mailbag Book
From Tarun: “An idea haunts me the past few days, if you could compile all the mailbags and condense them in a book form. Just an idea that haunts me and I wanted to pass it onto the original owner so that the ghost can prey on you ☺️ Stay there Bill, the writing fraternity needs you for all the sanity that you have to offer.”
Tarun, the word “sanity” is rarely used in describing me, but thank you.
I would love to grant you your request, Tarun, but I have no idea where I would find the time to compile that load into some organized book. Perhaps it wouldn’t have to be organized, per se, since the individual Mailbags are not organized . . . I don’t know. I’ll keep the idea alive in the back of my brain, and if time allows I’ll do it. That’s the best assurance I can give. I have three novels which are screaming to be written, and let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger.
Sweating the Heat
From Eric: “Now let me ask you a very serious writing double question. Do you have to turn off your computer in extreme heat and do have to wipe your hands off on a towel so as not to sweat into your keyboard?”
Eric, what extreme heat? You know about extreme heat. When I complain about it, the temp is 90. You see triple digits on a regular basis.
My computer is like me, ancient. I think I bought this laptop eight years ago . . . maybe longer . . . and it keeps on ticking. I would be afraid to treat it with special care now. It’s used to neglect, I’m afraid.
I wonder . . . does heat affect a computer? Actually I believe it does, and it is called oxidation, and it can really mess with the electronic components. The serious answer to your question, then, is keep your computer cool during the hot summer months. I don’t think you have to turn it off, but AC would be nice, and if not AC at least a fan.
As for those sweaty hands, good luck!
From Bert: “What do you think of writers conferences? Are they worthwhile to attend?”
Bert, I’ve only been to one, but I loved it. I’ve been to more teacher conferences than I can remember, and I loved all of them as well. I can’t remember ever going to any conference when I came back feeling like it was a waste of time. Any old time you put a couple hundred people with similar interests into a confined space, something good is bound to happen, or so I believe.
If you received nothing more from a conference than a feeling of comradeship, in my opinion that would be worth the price of admission. By all means, if you can, go to a writers’ conference. I guarantee you will find value in it.
From Annie: “Bill, what do you think of podcasts as an additional tool in marketing my books? Is it worth the time?”
Annie, I love podcasts. I wish I could find the time to do them on a regular basis. Are they worth the time? I think so, yes, if you are willing to put the time in to promote them, and if you make quality podcasts. Remember that anything you do to promote your books is an extension of you and reflects on you as a writer. Do a shabby job on podcasts and it says you are a shabby writer. Whether that is fair or not is not important; it is a fact you must consider before you begin.
I am very quick to judge a company or an individual based on first impressions. Oftentimes that is the only impression I will get. A farmer selling his tomatoes out of the back of his ’89 Ford pickup may have the best tomatoes in the world, but chances are I’m driving by him without hesitation. He needs to work on his marketing before I’ll stop.
The same goes for podcasts. They are you, so make them outstanding or don’t bother. File that under Marketing 101 and don’t forget it.
Help, I’m New to All of This
From Beth: “I’m just about to start out as a writer. I’m not sure what that means, or how to really go about it, but I’m going to start with a blog and go from there. The problem is this: what should the blog be about? Should it be about my passions, or should it be about my writing career and journey along my writing path?”
Well, Beth, first of all, best wishes with your writing career. I remember starting out almost ten years ago, and it was pretty exciting getting up daily and being in control of my writing future.
What should your blog be about? Why set limits? I have a friend who has eight different blogs. Heck, they are free on Wordpress and other sites, so why not? If you want to do a blog on your passions i.e. gardening, hiking, whatever, and a blog on writing, by all means do it. What’s stopping you? I have two . . . I’ve had five others . . . I say have as many as you can handle.
And that’s a key point . . . have as many as you can handle well. Blogs need regular maintenance. Your followers will need constant stimulation or they will go somewhere else to find it, so if you decide to have three blogs, make sure you have the time to maintain three quality blogs. Otherwise don’t bother because you will be doing more harm than good. People will lose interest, you will have branded yourself as sporadic, and all hope will be lost. lol
Best of luck! I’m excited for you. I hope you update me from time to time and let me know how you are doing.
That’s All I Have Time for This Week
Sorry about that, but this trip needs to happen. I’ll do better next week, promise. Until then, start working on that to-do list. Winter is right around the corner, and it’s not waiting for your approval.
2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”