How to Market Yourself as a Writer

hello postcard

As a writer it is a comforting delusion that if you write well, people will simply flock to you, and fame and fortune will eventually find you.

Reality is a little more brutal, especially since we are competing with over 150 million blogs plus the many hundreds of thousands of journalists around the world.

The simple truth, is that as writers we must market ourselves if we want to get our names – and our words – known by those who will read us, and those who will pay us.

This year, I have pushed myself to the limits in the ways I am brazenly marketing myself and my work as a writer.

These are some of the ways I have been marketing myself this year:

  • Emailing businesses directly: in seeking advertisers for my new fundraising site (Fundraising Mums) I have been emailing companies directly and introducing myself. The primary purpose is to get my name out there, while also directly mentioning that I am offering advertising on the site.
  • I printed postcards with all my blog details, making them relevant to both readers and advertisers, and am in the process of posting them out – the old fashioned way. So much correspondence comes through the inbox these days, my postcards are sure to be noticed simply because they are competing with a smaller amount of mail. There is a considerable cost associated with snail-mail these days, especially if you want to send hundreds of post-cards, but if you design your cards well and send them to the right people, it might be an effective use of your advertising budget.
  • I also carry postcards with me and place them on community boards at local shopping centres. I always attach at least four or five (space allowing) as they are very visually effective when placed en masse, and it also means that people can take one home with them.
  • Contact local and state newspapers – many newspapers have direct emails where you can send story ideas. If you think you could be a useful source on a particular topic, or might be seen as an ‘expert’ in the field, contact them and give them your details. They may not reply straight away, but if a story in the area comes up, there is a chance they will remember your name.
  • Join Source Bottle – I receive daily emails from Source Bottle from other writers looking for sources and stories, and where I think I have something to contribute, I make contact. Even if it means I am a participant in someone else’s story (for example, I will be quoted in the January 2016 edition of the Coles Mother and Baby magazine about something completely unrelated to blogging or fundraising) it is still a way to get your name out there.
  • Creating links with other people on Facebook: using my Fundraising Mums page I have ‘liked’ other businesses and people who are either in the same field as me, or are possible customers and readers. I have also made sure I am following media outlets and big-name bloggers so if they post something about fundraising or ask a question I can answer, I will be ready to respond quickly. Don’t limit yourself to what you naturally see as your own community. Look for business groups, local groups, women’s groups (if applicable) and other communities who might benefit from your work, as well as groups who see as potential customers/readers/sources. Think outside the box.
  • For Fundraising Mums I have been writing articles about businesses and products I think are interesting and unusual. Sometimes I contact the business in advance, sometimes not. Either way, I have realised that I shouldn’t be backward in sending them an email with the article link and asking them to share it on their social media. I have also been doing this for reviews I have written on WeekendNotes – considering the time I take to write articles, it isn’t much more to send off a quick email alerting them to the fact it exists. Some businesses have put my articles and reviews directly on their website others mention them on their Facebook pages.
  • I have been experimenting with paid advertising on Facebook – always with a pre-set budget of around $15-20. I have found that I have gotten the best response for articles/adverts which advertise the site generally, rather than promote a particular article or post.
  • In my email signature (for my personal and business-related email addresses) I have links to all of my blogs. I even mention that I have a book available for sale on Amazon.
  • My next plan is to update my CV and send letters of introduction to all the local and national publications I would like to write for.

 

What are some of the ways you market your work as a writer?

How to Self-Publish an eBook on Amazon

You may be familiar with my story about a post I wrote a few years ago: The Brutal Truth About the Third Child. It has been republished on a number of other sites, much bigger than my own, and as such – has always done a lot better for them, than it ever did for me.

Recently, I wanted to see if I could cash in on my own success, so I decided to turn The Brutal Truth, and a number of other posts about The Third Child, into a book which I self-published on Amazon.

The Brutal Truth About the Third Child by Shannon Meyerkort

The process was amazingly simple, and I am sharing it here – partly so I can remember it next time – but also for anyone who is considering self-publishing a book.

This is a really basic guide, and I do not pretend to be an expert. My book was text heavy with hardly any formatting and only one photo. If you have a lot of fancy formatting and pictures (such as a cook book) then I strongly suggest you head over to Kindle Direct and follow their much more comprehensive guide.

Before you start

When browsing on Amazon, readers can view the first 10% of your book free of charge. Therefore it is vital that you don’t waffle in your opening pages – move your acknowledgements to the back, don’t write a prologue about the time in Year 6 you decided you wanted to write a book. Put your best work upfront – this is what people will be basing their decision on.

Where should you start

Amazon supports uploading text in a number of formats, but for the sake of brevity, I am assuming you are writing your book in Word. Forgive me Mac users – I cannot help you today.

Make sure your text is 100% perfect. Find a professional editor or copyeditor if you can afford it, to ensure there are no typos or errors. That being said, one of the benefits of publishing an eBook is that you can easily ‘unpublish’ it, fix the mistake, and republish – and no one will probably even notice.

TIPS:

Do NOT add page numbers.

If you want chapters, then you must go into INSERT – PAGE BREAK.

If you want a contents page, then highlight

the name of each chapter and click on HEADING 1. Be consistent. All titles must be in the same style for the content page maker to recognise it. When you have highlighted all your chapter headings, go to REFERENCES – TABLE OF CONTENTS and it will automatically fill. Delete all the’ ……’ and page numbers. In the world of Kindle there are no page numbers (because every reader will choose a different font size to read in, each book becomes fluid and page numbers keep changing.)

Create an Amazon account

Create a Kindle Direct Publishing account.

You will need to complete all your normal personal details (name, address etc) as well as complete a section about tax and royalties. I won’t pretend it is easy, but even I managed to complete it (eventually). Keep in mind Amazon really tries to make the process as simple as possible for authors worldwide to do this, so don’t be put off when you initially see the tax interview section.

You will need to select which countries you want your book to be available in (there are at least a dozen different ‘Amazons’ worldwide) and nominate a bank account into which your millions of dollars (hopefully) will be paid.

Royalties are paid monthly – assuming you earn a certain amount. If you earn less than the set amount in a month, it simply accrues until you reach the minimum and your money (less tax) is deposited.

Upload your book details

Before you actually upload your finished manuscript you will be asked to upload certain details. Unlike the book itself, some things cannot be changed, so make sure you really think about the answers you give. Don’t rush this process in your eagerness to publish. It might be the difference in someone finding your book, and it sitting on the virtual bookshelf gathering dust.

You will be asked to give the book a title and subtitle (optional) and if it will be part of a series.

It will ask for a publisher (optional). Unless you are actually affiliated with a real publisher, leave this one blank, or make one up – such as (MMM Press) Meyerkort Magnificent Manuscripts.

The next section – description – is really important. This is the text that will appear on your book’s sale page – and will be the first thing (apart from the cover) that potential readers will see. This is no time to be modest. I trawled back through my blog and found some comments on my original Brutal Truth post by big-name bloggers. I then contacted them and asked if I could quote them (most responded, and all who did, agreed). My biggest tip here is to pretend you are a publicist rather than the author – write about yourself in the third person (or ask someone else to write it for you).

The next section is contributors – usually just a single author, but it also allows you to give credit to illustrators, editors, narrators, translators or if someone wrote the introduction or forward.

Verifying your publishing rights is straightforward: if it is an original text that you wrote yourself, then click the box that says you hold the necessary rights.

Target your book

You are only allowed TWO categories by which to classify your book, so you need to be very precise and honest. This is how people will find your book when they are browsing.

Start with the major headings and work your way down until you find the two categories that best suit your manuscript.

You can also nominate the age and reading levels that are appropriate/necessary for readers (or just leave this area blank). Unless it is full of sex and rude words, then perhaps put a minimum age limit on it.

The last vital section is to nominate 7 key words – again this is how potential readers will find your book. Choose wisely.

Upload a cover

Your book will need an eye-catching cover and you have a number of options. KDP offer the use of Cover Creator so you can design your own. You can also make your own in programs such as Canva, or you can engage a professional designer, or crowd source one (designcrowd.com; fiverr etc).

Be warned though there are a number of guidelines you must follow – I had my cover designed through designcrowd, and once I had chosen a winner, I still had at least three revisions afterwards getting the exact dimensions and approved colours right before Amazon would approve it.

You can upload a new cover at any time.

Upload your manuscript

It’s practically the last thing you do, but eventually you are asked to upload your book. It only takes a few minutes depending on how long your book it. Here is a tip – make sure you preview your book before you hit ‘save and publish’. The publish option may be given to you before your book is fully uploaded, but the preview option only appears when it is fully loaded. Do NOT hit save and publish until you are happy with how it looks (trust me, I made this mistake and had to wait three days for it to be approved and hit the shelves, before I quickly took it down again and checked the formatting). You may need to separately download the online previewer to do this.

Despite your best efforts, the formatting of the uploaded text may not be what you expected.

I think I uploaded and deleted the book a dozen times before I was happy with the layout. Little things like single lines to a page, a rogue hyperlink that somehow didn’t get deleted, a heading I forgot to highlight – all these changes needed to be made in the original Word document before re-uploading it to Amazon, and checking out the preview.

Once you publish, it can take up to 72 hours for Amazon to approve it and for the book to go live.

Choose a price and royalty

There are hundreds of blogs on what is the best price to sell your book at and you may have a specific figure in mind already, but you can either offer it for free, 99c or between $2.99 and $9.99 (or higher).

If you sell for 99c you can only get 35% royalty.

If you sell for between $2.99 and $10.99 (US Dollars) you choose either a 35% royalty and a 70% royalty.

You set the price in US dollars but it will automatically change with currency conversions to a different amount in other countries. For example I selected $US2.99 but it sells for $AU3.99.

(There is a lot more to the royalty issue, but one of the main issues is whether you are offering the book for sale elsewhere. If you are selling copies on your own blog, you will only ever be eligible for 35%. I advertise my book all over my blog but the link always sends people to Amazon to buy it from them.)

Claim your author page

Once your book is published you can claim your author page here.

The bio you create here will appear at the bottom of your book sale pages on Amazon, and you can also link to blogs and other sites.

Consider Kindle Select

This is such a big and subjective topic I will only touch on it – but if you enrol your book in Kindle Select, it means that your book becomes available FREE to the millions of Amazon Prime customers. But don’t worry about lost royalties, because for every page of your book that a Prime customer reads, you are will be paid a certain amount from the monthly pool. In June the pool was $13,000,000. Some authors make more from ‘lending’ their books to Prime customers than they ever do selling them to paying customers. Learn more here.

It also allows you to do certain ‘deals’ such as offering your book for free for up to five days each period (three months). It might sound counter-intuitive to offer your book for free, but I trialed it for two days, and saw the number of readers increase ten-fold. Sure, I didn’t receive any money but it pushed my book up the best seller lists for a while, and when the price returned, it was in a slightly better position than it had been before. And with any luck, all the people who read it for free might have mention it to a friend who will buy or borrow it.

Sit back and wait for the money to roll in

The Brutal Truth About the Third Child is currently ranked #68,794 in the Australian overall best seller lists, hardly a mentionable achievement. But it is also #33 in the Humour/Parenting and Families best seller lists, up against some awesome books like Darth Vader and Son and Go the F*ck to Sleep.

I won’t be paying off the mortgage any time soon, but it’s out there now and it’s certainly made me want to do it again.

 

 

Have you ever published an eBook? What advice would you give to people considering self-publishing for the first time?

 

 

Starting a New Blog – Mistakes I am Not Making This Time

Today marks the launch of my fourth blog: Fundraising Mums. Actually, if I’m being honest there was that other anonymous blog I started a couple of years ago and then freaked out and stopped publishing. It’s still out there in the virtual world, gathering dust and confusing people.

But Fundraising Mums is the first blog I have set up with an actual business plan. It is not just a place to collate memories like Relentless, nor a way to improve my clicks at WeekendNotes like Perth Food Reviews, and it is not all about me like shannonmeyerkort.com

Fundraising Mums was created because I identified an actual gap in the market and I wanted to fill it. I did my research, engaged professionals to help, I marketed, I sought advertisers, I spent three months working on it before I hit publish.

I am pretty happy with it today – but I cannot wait to see it in six month’s time when it really hits it stride.

Mistakes I made with Relentless

The biggest mistake I made with my first blog was not really thinking about the name I gave it. I was at a blogging workshop with the inspiring Amanda Kendle and even though I should have realised we would be expected to make (and name) a blog, I did not prepare. So gave it the first name I thought of: From Mum to Me.

Did you just wince? Or screw your face up? Because you don’t know what that means?

In my head it meant: I am starting this blog at a time when I am so heavily involved in being a mum to my (then) two daughters that I no longer remember who I am, or what else I am other than being a mum.’ The blog was meant to represent my journey from being ‘just a mum’ to being ‘me’.

But apparently that wasn’t immediately clear to others. You can read more about my ridiculous decision here.

After a year or so and the arrival of Baby Number Three suddenly it dawned on me that the blog should be named Relentless. Because that was what my life with three kids was like.

But it is not that easy to change the name of your blog – there is all this technical stuff with URLs and the like – not to mention the fact that you just confuse people.

Lesson 1: choose a name that not only suits your blog now, but will stay relevant as the blog grows and changes. You must LOVE it and it must make sense to others immediately.

Some might argue that Fundraising Mums is a sexist title that excludes not only Dads but teachers, coaches, grandparents and anyone without kids. I totally get that and I will wear the criticism, but it struck me as being a catchy title that was inclusive of about 90% of potential readers.

Mistakes I made with Perth Food Reviews

There were a few mistakes I made with Perth Food Reviews.

The first was that I was trying to break into an extremely full market already brimming with some top-notch and well established bloggers. Perth simply did not need one more food blog, especially when it was blatantly clear that my primary intention was to send traffic to WeekendNotes.

I am proud of my restaurant and cafe reviews on WeekendNotes and I think they are really useful, but I was constantly being asked by friends ‘where can I go in xxx to find yyy type of food’ or ‘where is the best xxx in Perth?’.

WeekendNotes doesn’t have the ability to search on questions such as this, so my thought was to create a new blog where people could search for particular types of food (Asian versus pub grub), certain styles of restaurant (fine dining versus share plates) or on particular requirements (child friendly versus views).

It was all rather noble, but apart from the cent per view I would receive if people actually clicked through to the WeekendNotes article, there was nothing in it for me. So I lost interest.

Which is a pity because I put in a lot of time setting it up, but it hasn’t been updated in ages and with the rapid rate restaurants go out of business here in Perth and new ones spring up, it is probably already outdated.

Lesson 2: don’t start a new blog unless you are really invested in it. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and be prepared to commit both time and energy in the long term.

I see Fundraising Mums as a long term project, and it utilises all my talents and interests from writing, reviewing, researching, storytelling and project managing. I have hundreds of story ideas – my problem is going to be finding the time to write them all. The other point of difference is that this will be the first of my blogs that I monetise and offer advertising for. I have always been reluctant to put adverts on my other sites thinking it will annoy readers, but when people come to FRM they will WANT to see adverts for innovative fundraising companies. Win win.

Mistakes I made with shannonmeyerkort.com

I’d like to say this is a perfect site considering this is the one you are currently reading, but I acknowledge it is a small group of you who visit (thank you) and the content – while hopefully relevant and interesting to writers – is highly specific and also very personal. Readers often want broader information with no obvious author.

They don’t want to hear my voice, because frankly, they don’t care.

And I respect that.

I am the first to admit that I tend to spend more time on blogs that are less personal. Why? Because I make the (perhaps incorrect) assumption that the information is more universal and therefore, perhaps more relevant to me and my situation.

Lesson 3: personal blogs will attract like-minded followers who will engage and support you, but chances are you will have far fewer readers than a blog which is more universal and objective. Decide on your tone and style as well as your content, as this will influence people as to whether they want to feel involved personally, or more remotely.

Fundraising for schools is relevant to me (next year all three of my children will be at school) but it isn’t personal. I can invest more of my time in FRM without necessarily investing more of myself and my family. There is already plenty of that here and on Relentless. FRM is more business-like and while I really enjoy sharing great products and ideas, it’s not all about me, and frankly, that’s a good thing.

What are the main lessons you have learned from starting your own blog? What mistake won’t you be repeating?

PS. I have actually released my first book on Amazon: The Brutal Truth About the Third Child. You can buy it here. It will actually be FREE for July 1 and 2.

But that’s a story for another day.

The New Writer’s Room

Her back to the view, the new writer faces a blank wall. ‘Imagination must meet memory in the dark’, Annie Dillard wrote, ‘appealing workplaces must be avoided.’ And so despite the fresh new space which has been created just for her, a space crying out for colour and attention, the new writer assumes the position, fingers poised, no chance of a colourful distraction.

Behind her the Australian sky is raging with activity. A flock of birds flying in formation, their military precision wasted on the unseeing eye. Butterflies dance around the forgotten but persistent lemon tree. They may as well be pinned in a museum drawer, for the new writer is desperately trying to adhere to a routine, a strictness brought on by unfamiliarity.

Her time has been planned, organised down to the last full stop. An hour to ponder a character in her not-yet-started novel. An hour to peruse magazines to which she will submit as yet unwritten articles. An hour to map her thoughts on a bestselling book idea. An hour to trawl writing blogs for snippets of brilliance and good advice.

She resists the urge to turn and look at the clock on the wall. She is afraid the day outside will betray her determination to stay inside and write. She is concerned that one glimpse of the blue sky will destroy her resolve to remain a prisoner in her new room.

It is ironic that the plain and ordinary box the room was originally designed to be was forbidden by the local building planner. For reasons known only to the bureaucrat and his rubber stamp, the room had to be redesigned.

It now resembled an old cottage attic perhaps, or a French garret room. Its ceiling is angled and raked, the many junctions throwing the light in corners where there should have been none. It is a much more romantic and tortured room than the plain and ordinary box the room was meant to be.

It is perfect for the new writer to begin her craft.

But the silence is distracting, the bareness of the wall diverting. The new writer is not used to the blank canvas of time and space this new room affords her. She is used to the colour and energy of her young children. She is used to stealing moments of time at her computer propped on the kitchen table between the crayons and the half eaten apples. This new space is altogether too pure and her mind is drawing a blank.

The new writer stands and reluctantly leaves her room. She leaves behind her space of supposed work, creativity and inspiration and heads downstairs to her world of family and chaos. The house is quiet though, her children and husband allowing her today to write undisturbed, to begin her new life alone. Her fingers lightly brush the kitchen table, still covered with unfinished breakfast and half read newspapers. The corner where she sat to write for so long, the corner of the kitchen table she could not wait to escape, is now just an ordinary corner heaped high with papers, a precarious pile of glittered and decorated offerings.

The words flowed from that kitchen table. She can still hear the words bouncing around the room, words about the trials and tribulations of being a mother, the pains of parenting, the small gifts given to us in the form of first steps and new experiences. The words overflow and fill the room. But the new writer knows that those words were amateur, proffering little more than snippets of news she shared with family and friends afar, vignettes of vanity, her motherly pride sometimes getting the better of her. Those words were not the utterances of a real writer.

The silence is even lonelier downstairs in the rooms normally filled with the laughter and noise of children, so the new writer feels drawn to the sterility of the haven provided upstairs. Time seems to operate on a new dimension in the writer’s new room. Where once her fingers would fly across the keyboard and the words would form themselves on the screen before she had even seen them in her mind, now the words were stuck and she struggled to find them, hiding as they were in the recesses of her imagination. Where once she had to snatch five minutes of time to write, now the prospect of a day alone in her attic cell petrified her.

Many sacrifices were made so that the new writer could call herself that. Paid work was abandoned, and along with it the monetary and social rewards that came with it. The risk of starting again was not just on the shoulders of the one who was making the changes but on all the family. Being back at the starting line in middle age brought with it the very real risk of staying there.

And so the new writer returns to her writing room and once again assumes the position. She wonders whether the new technology is stifling her creativity and toys with the idea of nib and ink, or at least an old typewriter. She stares forward at the blank wall waiting for inspiration to come. Shadows dancing in the corner of her eye threaten to distract her. She must not be diverted, she is a new writer with a dream. Her new room is jeopardising her ability to concentrate and she has the very real concern that she will not succeed as a writer, and the world will soon discover that she is in fact a fraud.

The shadows in the corner of her eye call up a chorus, assaulting her concentration and rendering her incapable of writing. She turns to face her accusers, ready to admit that she is not a writer, that this was all a reverie. The wall in front of her is dotted with framed pages and she stands to examine them more closely. Her name springs from each of them, her name in print. These are her completed works, letters and stories, articles and competition pieces, all published, all framed. They are the only decoration to adorn the otherwise bare walls in her new writing room, the only ornamentation allowed in this hallowed space. They were a gift from her old self to her new dream, to inspire and encourage. They were never meant to deny her the opportunity to become all that she desired.

As she gazes upon her name, she finally sees what has always been clear: she has always been a writer. It is just the room that is new.

 

 

 

Loving Something Doesn’t Mean It Will Love You Back

I am in the final throes of a Graduate Diploma of Professional Writing at university, and I was very excited to finally do a unit dedicated to writing for children. I thought it would be a shoe-in. I am a mother of three little girls, I read picture books til my head spin. Every room in my house is graced with some form or another of stories for children.

How hard could it be?

My first assessment was to write a picture book. In four weeks.

I laughed out loud when I realised this: because if it was possible to write a picture book in just four weeks, then everyone would be doing it and we would all be millionaires. We certainly wouldn’t need to go to uni to learn how to do it.

I had what I thought was a brilliant, quirky made-up idea, wrote my 300 words, developed some great concepts for the illustrator and sent it in for marking.

When I saw my grade (16/30) I thought there had been a mistake. Was I really just three percent off failing? I never fail.

After speaking with the tutor and reading her well-reasoned comments, I had to admit – reluctantly, bitterly, sadly – that yes, it was a totally crap book and kids and parents would probably hate it. (NB She didn’t actually say people would hate it, those are my words).

That was if they actually understood it.

It was a bitter pill to swallow. Just because I am a writer and a parent does not automatically mean I am cut out to be a picture book writer. And just because you want something doesn’t mean it will want you back (a lesson for more in life than just writing).

I also realised that my strength as a writer lies in telling stories that are based in fact. Yes, I am known to embroider the truth a little, to elaborate, exaggerate and mess around with little things like chronology, but everything I write – from stories about having three kids on Relentless, to reviews on WeekendNotes, to the fact-based short stories about my historical houses that won me awards – are all based on truth.

Why make things up when the truth is available?

So although my brush with failure is a smack in the face to my pride, it is also quite liberating. I realise it sounds like I am just giving up, but I am not. It has made me realise something about my abilities. Write what you know is a well known adage in the writing world and I knew I couldn’t afford to break the rule twice.

So for my second assessment, a junior fiction novel, I have based it on people and events from my own life. It is a veritable Frankenstein of truth, albeit repackaged with new names and a cutesy protagonist.

Stay tuned and I will let you know how I go.

Why You Should Never Google Yourself

Faced with a list of tiresome chores and no writing mojo to be found anywhere, I decided to indulge in a little private time this morning. I did something we all do, but rarely admit to, like pee in the shower or pick your nose just to look at it.

I googled myself.

The first page was pretty much what I expected. My blogs shannonmeyerkort.com and Relentless came up, as did my profile on WeekendNotes. There was my LinkedIn profile, gathering cobwebs and dust, various reviews and old academic papers, plus lots of mentions of my Brutal Truth About the Third Child.

I was chuffed to see my Master thesis get a mention on Google Books. Zero reviews and zero stars… probably because the only copy is sitting on a shelf somewhere around here gathering dust.

I had really begun to enjoy myself. No nude photos. No websites dedicated to destroying me. No embarrassing Facebook shots that someone else had posted.

But then a site came up that I didn’t recognise, and I got a little squeezy sensation in my stomach. Had someone stolen my words or had they written someone awful about me?

This is precisely why they say don’t google yourself. Sometimes it’s better not to know what others are writing about you.

But I had to find out. Besides, it was in Italian.

There was a picture of me and my family (a picture they don’t have permission to use, but we’ll ignore that) and my name. I could guess at a few of the words: ironia, testimonianza, blogger Americana.

Uh, hang on.

I went back and hit the google translate button for the page. Then, in a fabulous mash of Italian and English, appeared an article that was designed to look like I had been interviewed, but really was just a bit of a cut and paste of my Brutal Truth article.

The translations are even better than my original article: “You can doze and sleep all day and as a priestess stroll touching your belly waiting for a football.”

Some of it is pretty funny because it still makes sense:

“Are you happy of nausea and vomiting because it means you can have five minutes to get you in the bathroom?”

And other parts are completely mystifying:

“Rilavi reluctantly the vestititi used with a normal detergent, throw some broken play, refreshments sheets cradle. Your son has already managed to dismantle all sure that you put in the house and survived, so it is not necessary to reposition the newcomer.”

I liked how the Italians automatically assumed I had sons.

The French version of my ‘Letter of Apology to my Middle Child’ described it as “a mother issu[ing] an apology letter to his middle child”. And I thought I had difficulty with French pronouns.

“Shannon notes that this has forged the character of its small second. She teases threats, disputes, compromises. All you seem to want, and that is so hard to give is my complete attention. It’s hard because I have three children, a house to manage and my writing.”

“Shannon reassures: “I see the fire in you and I know you traceras your own way, despite your place mid or maybe because of this site?”

I particularly liked being referred to as an ‘its’. Thanks French people.

The Portuguese translation of The Brutal Truth was possibly my favourite, especially how they introduced me:

“Shannon Meyerkort is a writer, blogger and mother of three girls under seven years. His love for writing is not simple, because it implies that you are sitting to do so.”

I love how they aren’t beholden to gender assumptions about mothers being women. How refreshing.

The translation seems to make things worse than they really are:

“It seems that is six months pregnant by the time we hit the second quarter. Sit persecuted and cries a lot.”

And then go a little hard-core with the language:

“People who have just given birth, begin to upset her with all the talk bullshit about babies.”

Then they go hard-core with the parenting:

“Push your child out of the crib, take them cuddly and dispose of them in a weekend.”

That’s a bit rough, even for me.

I haven’t yet ploughed deeper into the world of Google to see if the Chinese have their own translations of The Brutal Truth, but if it’s ever found, please let me know.

I Want to Write for You, Not Talk To You

It’s the moment most writers wait for. Someone sidles up beside you and says ‘I read your latest blog/book/article’ and proceeds to share their own story.

But when your latest blog is on leaking pee when trampolining, or the humiliations of pubic hair shaving before a Caesar, generally those conversations don’t go so well.

Many moons ago an article I wrote called ‘Diary of a Caesar’ was published in Offspring Magazine. It was a blow-by-shameful-blow account of having c-section, peppered with all the blood and glory that happens to a lady’s business end during this time.

And then my uncle-in-law approached me, and started to discuss my article and some of its not-so-fine details.

It made me reconsider my limits when it comes to sharing personal information.

See, the thing about writing is that you don’t do it in front of an audience. It’s usually just you and a computer. You can sit and deliberate about what turn of phrase to use, or scroll through the thesaurus looking for a better word, but ultimately, when you hit ‘publish’ you’re still on your own.

You never get to see the facial expressions of people reading about your intimate secrets. You never get to hear them laugh at your jokes (and humiliations). You don’t get to see them nodding their head in agreement, or watch them as they share the article with their friends. You don’t hear them mutter obscenities if they don’t agree with what you’ve written. Any feedback you get is often delayed: silent words on a page or a number that clicks over.

Which is why, when an actual real-life human approaches you and starts to talk about enjoying your article it can be a special moment. Except lately, people only seem to be talking to me about my post about peeing when I was jumping on a trampoline with my four year old. Not my finest moment.

People assume that because you have shared an intimate moment online where millions of people can read it, also means you are willing to discuss it in person.

Here’s the thing: that’s not actually true. Comment by all means online, but let’s keep those comments virtual.

I often write painful, embarrassing, humiliating, intimate or just plain disgusting things online because I want to share, and let people know ‘yes, it happened to me too. You’re not alone.’ But I don’t necessarily want to rehash those painful, embarrassing, humiliating, intimate or just plain disgusting things in person.

Probably because they’re painful, embarrassing, humiliating, intimate or just plain disgusting.

So now I’m considering a coding system on my stories: green for ‘let’s talk about this one’ and red for ‘let’s never mention this again.’

 

For the record, this one is GREEN.