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Be a literary citizen

Write your book

A quick recap

In yesterday’s post, which you can read here, I began looking at the question ‘who would read it anyway?’ which we can sometimes use as a form of procrastination. I’m suggesting that you take the question seriously and see if you can come up with an answer. At least you’ll know if it’s the ‘real’ reason you’re procrastinating. So without further ado, here’s how you discover your ideal reader:

In this post, I’ll discuss what it means to be a literary citizen and some practical things you can do to connect with your audience right now, even if you haven’t finished a book yet.

Be a literary citizen

‘Literary citizen’ is a term coined by Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House, and cited in Jane Friedman’s book The Business of Being a Writer, which I recommend. (The section on literary citizenship is on pages 19-21). Literary citizenship, she says, is: ‘widely used to refer to activities that support reading, writing, and publishing in the literary community.’ (Friedman, p. 19) How does that work practically? Read on!

Show up

Being a literary citizen involves showing up to things if you can. This has become easier for some people now literary events have gone online or are turning hybrid, and of course it will be good to meet off line if and when it’s possible. When you are a good literary citizen, you not only build good writing karma, you gain the support and camaraderie of others, who will turn up to your events and promote your work in turn. Here are some of the ways in which you can practice literary citizenship:

  • Go to writing events and festivals.
  • Show up at / organise reading events.
  • Support and champion other writers.
  • Follow writers and book bloggers you admire on social media.
  • Know the genres you are interested in and find like-minded people.
  • Join a local reading group.
  • Join a local writing group.
  • Join online groups for writers and readers.
  • Read, promote and review other people’s books.

When you do this, you start to get a real sense of who your own readers will be. You’re not writing in a vacuum any more.

Find people who love reading

It is fairly easy to find other writers online, which I love because (especially on Twitter) you can end up making all sorts of connections. However, personally speaking, being in online spaces for people who love reading as much as I do has really helped me get a sense of an audience for my writing. Not everyone loves reading. Those are not your people. But some people can’t get enough of it. When it comes to finding your audience, seek those readers out!

Read the next post in this series here.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Louise xx

P.S. Want to learn more about your ideal reader? Go here.

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