The Big Idea)
This weekend, as a way of procrastinating about getting in the right frame of mind for writing, I’ve spent hours reading Justine Musk’s fabulous blog, Tribal Writer. Justine is a YA and fantasy writer, a mum of twins and triplets. (She’s also the ex-wife of billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Paypal, Elon Musk, whose high-profile divorce has had journalists and lawyers slavering for the last few years.*)
The quality and frequency of her blog posts has me wondering how she ever finds time for writing, unless she gets another talented writer to pretend to be her. (I know, I’m supposed to be writing right now, and what am I doing...?) Basically, Justine practices what she preaches: the engagement of a writer with their community of other writers and thinkers, and with their ‘audience’, two groups which should necessarily intersect. She does this through several blogs in which she collects her own and others' thoughts about the business of writing, which necessarily contains a large amount of candid self-reflection. She says that the tools of social media are just as important tools for the writer as paper and pen.
This fits with what I heard at the publisher’s event at the recent Auckland Readers and Writers Festival, in which an international panel agreed that in the current environment, publishers are looking for a writer who is not only ‘marketable’, but also comes with the social savvies to allow them connect with and grow a readership. Having a good manuscript is still the baseline condition, mind you. But on top of that, a potential new publishee will be asked if they have a blog on which they post frequently, are on Facebook and Twitter, and have skills and experience in appearing friendly, personable and accessible. As one publisher said, “They need to be stand-up comedians.”
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