Two years ago I worked with Heidi, a creative writing lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch University (CCCU), and students on a small project to increase my profile on social media. At the time I had 20 Twitter followers and, to give you an idea of student input, I now have almost 3,000.
A few months ago, I was approached by CCCU to teach Professional Practice I to second year students to include submitting work for publication. I’m an author of a Culture Crime Series, two books of short stories and a romance novel, the course I’ll be teaching this semester is non-fiction writing.
My first task was to list my experience in this area. Aside from blogging, creating my own website, pitching to agents, writing press releases and press launch material, I am also building a loyal readership of fans and creating my own database of readers with regular targeted newsletters.
Any self-published author debates the time spent marketing versus writing, and I’m no different. Only now, I’ll have to factor in, for the next four months, one morning a week where I’ll be sharing my knowledge with students – and do you know what?
I’m very excited – as a self-published author – to be recognised in the world of academia. I’m sure I’m not alone but I do feel like a #trailblazer. This is a major step forward and an accolade to all Indie authors and I hope it will open the doors and minds to more and other professional institutions. I believe it’s important to be ‘current’ in this constantly changing world of social media, self-publishing hype, and online sales and marketing. It’s essential to keep up with trends and to be informed and, to sieve out relevant information in a professional manner to help others.
We all know there’s a lot of ‘self help’ information out there. There are many willing experts, companies and publishers who will help you with their numerous courses, their knowledge, contacts or expertises – for a price. Some are better than others, some are a rip off and others may change the destiny of your writing career in a positive way.
It’s only since I’ve been planning the classes that I understand just how written communication is involved in everything we do in business and in our daily lives.
Is writing a novel harder than planning a teaching semester?
Let me explain: with a book or short story there’s the introduction of characters – the hero and antihero (keeping it simple), then there’s the goal or ambition that creates the story, conflict where things going wrong, followed by a resolution. With planning lectures there’s the introduction (the aim of the lecture) and what will be discussed, the aims and ambition of the tutorial and problems to overcome, followed by a summary of what’s happened.
See the pattern?
I think that working with students will be like engaging with readers. You have to build on basic qualities and strengths: Trust. Enjoyment. Knowledge.
These are the subjects I’ll be discussing with students so that they will find their voice, their public images and their route or niche in their writing careers. It’s a journey of discovery – theirs and mine.
Stay with me and I’ll let you know what happens. Follow me on my journey of expectation and surprise….