We're so pleased to welcome guest E.A. Aymar to the blog today! He is a monthly columnist with The Washington Independent Review of Books. His debut novel, I'll Sleep When You're Dead, was published in late 2013, and the sequel is coming out June 13 (from Black Opal Books). He is a member of MWA, SinC and ITW, and also manages the social media for the debuts of that latter organization.
First off, thanks to Meredith and everyone at Criminal Minds for letting me blog with you today.
I’m going to take the question from a different angle, since I’ve been writing fiction forever but was first published a little over a year ago. Rather than three things I’ve learned since I started writing fiction, I’m going to write about three things I’ve learned since I was published. GAME CHANGED!
- Most writers are actually pretty nice. That surprised me. I really thought, based off what I’d read about writers, that they were cranky assholes. And before I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead was published, I did the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do: I didn’t network, didn’t go to events, didn’t do anything to promote the short stories I’d placed in mags and rags. I guess that, until I had a novel officially accepted and published, I just didn’t feel like a real writer so, consequently, I didn’t know any. And I get a little nervous when it comes to meeting people I admire, and I admire a lot of writers. But almost everyone I’ve met has been friendly and encouraging and doesn’t mind it if you’re a little star-struck or you blurt out that you’d like to stare into their eyes for a few minutes or whatever. And the organizations I’ve joined, from ITW to MWA to SinC, have been equally as friendly and encouraging. That was a nice discovery.
- You need a backstory. Everyone knows that J.K. Rowling was having money problems before Harry Potter became a success. More to the point, she was homeless, subsisting on a diet of street rats and urchins while scribbling her eventual book on random scraps of paper. That’s all true. You don’t need to slip into poverty, but you need something that sets you apart, something that you can tell the occasional interviewer or audience at a reading that makes you memorable. I’m not saying you should lie, but you should lie. Chances are, your backstory is the same as mine: “I always wrote and read a lot, and then I took it seriously around college and…” God, that’s so boring. I can’t even finish typing that sentence because my hand fell asleep. Spice it up! Liars get a bad rap nowadays, but lying is totally worth it, you guys. You need an angle.
- Ya gots to keep writing. According to a recent study by Library Journal, more people are publishing now, and more frequently, than at any other point in history. I just made that stat and the corresponding study up (see?), but it’s probably true. As a guy published by a small press, I think it’s great that there are so many publishing avenues out there. As a guy distrustful of authority, I love that publishing’s rigid doors have been blown open…but holy hell, the market is crowded. There may be a few standouts who can rest for years after a single book is complete, but that’s rare, and you’re probably not Harper Lee. Don’t count on it happening. If you want to get read, you’ve got to keep writing.
On that note, since I was so pleased that Meredith offered me the opportunity to blog with you all, I thought I’d take the opportunity to follow Art’s lead and reveal the cover for the second book in my Dead trilogy, You’re As Good As Dead (coming June 13, Black Opal Books). I hope you like it! If you don’t, lie and say you do. I’m cool with that.