What saved 2020 for me, as a creator
All the conferences and panels are online now, and I may have done more speaking engagements in 2020 than I ever have in 11 years of being an author. Each time I’m asked to speak, I prepare a presentation about #RomanceClass and my books, and usually I don’t need to update that until the following year.
This year though, every speaking engagement I’ve needed to add something to the “about RomanceClass and my books” because the coping and evolving has been so quick and consistent. Literally a few weeks later we’ll have tried a new thing (as a response to the impossibility of another) and when it works I want to include it when I speak, so others know it’s possible.
At a panel I did in November, I presented this at the end of a summary of 2020 activities and stats.
At the beginning of lockdown, I was asked what about my writing and publishing process would change, now that we have to stay home and can’t do events. I said then that actually, not much would change. So much of the corporate publishing side of this industry relied on distribution and promotion channels that many of us self-publishers and indies didn’t have access to anyway. So, we had to find other spaces, to keep creating. Many of these spaces were online. We were already digital and shipping books direct to buyers. And we were already doing this together, sharing what we learned and what we were capable of, because that way is easier and more fun than going at it alone.
The flipside of saying “hey if you don’t have a complete corporate publishing team then join a community” is that then some people think “how can I get in on that community action while doing the least” and…and nope. When people form communities (especially in response to being excluded from something), they want to welcome people—but are also careful of this welcome and access being exploited. I say this for #RomanceClass but it can apply to other communities too. Definitely I encourage people to find communities but don’t be that person who sees a welcome mat and then helps themselves to the labor and resources and good will. Obviously as moderator I’ve encountered these people. And I’ve taken action. We need to trust each other.
One way to build trust is by making consistent and intentional choices. Many creative communities work consistently and intentionally through trends and cycles. We are here even when a thing is not “hot” or “sensational.” We’re around for people even when numbers drop or corporate support is withdrawn.
Even in a year like 2020, apparently we can still make books and new stories happen. I’m a writer so this’ll heavily favor writing but look at the impact of a single writer continuing bit by bit. Words become chapters, chapters become manuscripts or scripts, which then generates activity and work for editors, artists, photographers, models, actors, and then becomes something that a reader in your city or a city on the other side of the world can enjoy. Impact. On many, many lives.
I ended my last speaking engagement with this, because I had a feeling people were wondering what the future holds for publishing. The future is being made by creative communities today. Support them. Buy them, read them. Give them resources and space to thrive.
As always, thank you to the ones who already do. And the ones already creating. You’re getting so many people through a crap year. And you will determine the future of anything.