Musings on Finding My Tribe

These are some thoughts on finding and connecting with potential readers, which arose from a local writing workshop. We were fortunate to have the wonderful Lauren Sherritt from the equally wonderful Queensland Writers Centre (http://www.qwc.asn.au/) come up from Brisbane. Her workshop was about developing an effective on-line author platform.

As she spoke about the importance of having an author website and a blog, of using Twitter and Facebook, it all made sense. I can’t say I’m fond of anything related to marketing, promotion, or having to speak to strangers, but I can see that my personal combination of social ineptitude and introversion is something I will need to adjust if I’m to find people to read my books.

So, one of the things that Lauren asked us to think about for our websites or blogs was how we wanted to brand ourselves. We have to present, immediately, just what it is we are all about. We don’t want to present an image that fails to attract the people we want on our site or (even worse) attracts the sort of people we don’t want. Harking back to an earlier blog post of mine, in which I said our book pitch has to be true to the kind of story we’re trying to tell, https://kaywantcheung.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/the-pitch-part-1-the-importance-of-managing-expectations/ I believe our on-line image has to true to the person we are trying to be.

What, Lauren asked the class, was our core message? And what is our point of differentiation that sets our work apart from anyone else’s?

This was where I felt myself slipping and sliding like a cyborg on an ice-rink. In my hazy thinking, I had assumed that, as a writer of sci fi and fantasy, I could just blog about writing and SF. But that’s not a core message, is it? That’s not a point of differentiation. Somehow, I needed to go deeper. What type of SF do I like reading and why? What am I myself trying to write? In essence, what is Kay Want Cheung the Writer all about?

Not so easy, is it?

It’s something I got half-way towards in a previous post. I tried breaking my work down by genre in https://kaywantcheung.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/the-pitch-part-2-dispelling-genre-myths/ and ended up with this:

May I present my New Adult Futuristic Soft science fiction Adventure series with a Psychological slant featuring Cyborg Spies encountering Alien cultures.

In Lauren’s class, given only a couple of minutes to think about it, I came up with this:

What I do is I combine the classic science fiction tropes of portals between worlds, cyborgs and artificial intelligence, and I add a little modern realism: ‘What would it really be like…?’

Now I’m finding myself wanting to go further, to get past the aliens and the cyborgs and reach for the heart of what I’m trying to achieve. When it comes down to it, I don’t want to market my books as comic-book style adventures of heroes vs villains, because that’s not what they’re all about.

And now I see that ultimately the only thing that matters to me is that my characters are real people, that they love and laugh and hurt and make mistakes. That they do what they believe to be right and when they get knocked down they get back up again and keep fighting. They’re about doing something for a cause that is greater than oneself, about survival and persistence through adversity.

And suddenly I’m realising that, while there’s nothing wrong with the stories I’ve written in terms of providing light entertainment, adventures with a futuristic slant, that’s not enough for me anymore. I want to go deeper into my characters’ motivations, their inner struggles, their joys and sorrows. I need to write a different kind of book.

So now I have a lot to think about, because when I started this blog post I had no idea that this was where it was going to end. Have I found my tribe? No, but perhaps I’ve found something more valuable at this stage in my writing development: finally, a better sense of direction in my re-writing.