A Love Letter to Authors

heart 2Dear Authors,

I love you.

Really.

I know, you must be thinking the holiday season has gone to my head, pumping me with Hallmark joy and wrapping-paper cheer.   Or that I’m promiscuous — a floozy who hops too easily from one love interest to the next: The job publicizing businesses, the job publicizing authors and books.  The kids, the family, the stolen time writing fiction here and there and the regular hook-ups with voice lessons, ballet and yoga classes.  When you look at it that way, I guess it does sound kind of shady.

But truth be told, it’s my work with authors that holds it all together, giving purpose and meaning to the rest.  Staying faithful to only business PR would be like coming home from the office each evening only to slip into a suit and a tie.  Singing, dancing and downward-dogging are nice treats, but at my age, well, they tend not to go very far. As for family life, don’t we all need a little something on the side?  And when it comes to fiction, this once-obsession has evolved into a healthier partnership in which prose and story ideas inform and inspire everything I do but no longer define or possess me night and day.

Still don’t believe me?  Maybe that’s because in good writerly style you fear that nobody will love you, not even me.  Or maybe you’re so wrapped up in your characters’ lives and ways that you don’t notice some of the most endearing aspects of your own.  So let me tell you a bit about why working with you is such a joy:

  • You bring me your hopes and dreams, entrusting me with the delicate but immensely rewarding task of helping shape them.
  • You come as you are, no suits or ties, no rhetoric or jockeying for power.  If you’re nervous or doubtful, you tell me.  You don’t pretend.
  • You know how to laugh at yourselves, at me, at your agents, your editors, and to share that laughter until together we’re wiping tears from our eyes.
  • When I ask probing personal questions in order to get to the heart of a blog post or article you’ve drafted, you dig deep, searching for — and giving – your most honest, often painful answer, bringing us both to tears for real.
  • Your boundaries between professional and personal life are refreshingly thin.  We have conversations while you nurse babies, get your car fixed or your nails done and even when you’ve just given birth.  You’ve shared the story of that birth and have introduced me to your spouse, your parents, your siblings and kids, making me feel like part of the family.
  • You talk dirty, walking me unflinchingly through your books’ scenes of sniffing panties in dark closets, masturbation, the thrills of discovering same-sex dating and cheating on a spouse.
  • You talk writing: voice and narrative, drafts and revisions, word choice, structure and plot – stirring up that passion for me all over again and making it an exhilarating part of each day’s work.
  • We have fun together, meeting up for coffee on the fly, drinking too much wine at launch parties and banging out emails so fast when press requests come in that we can hardly remember what the point was in the first place.
  • One of you is a friend from childhood. In junior high and high school — long before the days of texting — we used to stay up late at night gabbing on the phone, comparing bra sizes, crushes and all sorts of firsts. Brought back in touch by Facebook, we haven’t met in person since 1984 but now, even when we talk about the scenes of death and illness in your memoir, we somehow wind up giggling.

And I guess that’s what it comes down to in the end: Camaraderie and friendship — a rare breed of each I’ve rarely found anywhere else. Because like flings, publicity campaigns may start and end, but long after they’ve finished you, Authors, remain dear friends for everything we’ve shared.

Thank you.

 

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About Sharon Bially

Sharon Bially (@SharonBially) is the founder and president of BookSavvy PR, a public relations firm devoted to authors and books. Author of the novel Veronica’s Nap, she’s an active member of Grub Street, Inc., the nation’s 2nd largest independent writing center, and writes for the Grub Street Daily.

Comments

  1. says

    I love love LOVE this piece! I have just picked up “my book” (ha ha – yes – I read your post about this) – ok – I’ll rephrase – I’ve just picked up LYING OUT LOUD for yet another significant revision before I start the query process again – and your post came in – and it is like a hug from a friend who I didn’t even know that I have – saying “yes yes – keep writing – this is a GOOD thing!” So Thank you, Sharon, for taking the time to write all that you did. If you ever find yourself in Cape Cod or Boston, I’d be delighted to buy you a cup of coffee/wine/tea… with thanks for your inspiration!!! Mimi (http://mimischlichter.blogspot.com)

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  2. says

    I couldn’t agree more!! I was so moved by Sharon’s piece and the timing of it (I too am completing another revision Mimi Schlichter) that I had to call and thank her. I was reading the post quickly and thinking, “Yes, yes, who wrote this??” and get to the bottom only to see Sharon’s beautiful, smiling face. Thank you—-Sharon, and everyone else who is on this crazy ride.

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    • says

      Another thing about authors: you actually do pick up the phone to call when you have something like that to share. Thanks, Wendy! What a treat it was to hear from you today! :-)

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  3. says

    Sharon-

    Ah, skip the mushy stuff. Send money.

    LOL. Christmastime brings out the best in us, doesn’t it? Thanks for voicing something I feel (almost) every day: writers are great to work with. At conferences and here, I feel like I’m with my tribe.

    While I haven’t experienced the dirty talk–is that yet another gender advantage that women have?–I have found, like you, that writers are open, alert, aware, smart and craft hungry. For so lonely a professional they are wonderfully social and supportive.

    On the downside, they also can be insecure, dependent, industry ignorant and ironically unaware of the psychological mechanisms inside themselves that they portray so well in their characters.

    To your list of pleasures I’d add this: Writers tell great stories, both on the page and at the bar. And what is better than that?

    Never mind about money. A gift card will do. Or if not that, then maybe a terrific story. Yes, I think I like that the best.

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    • says

      Donald, re the insecurity etc., that’s definitely one of the reasons the task is so delicate! But the nurturer in me seems to like the hand-holding that comes with. Most of the time…. :-)

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  4. says

    “Still don’t believe me? Maybe that’s because in good writerly style you fear that nobody will love you, not even me.”

    THIS.

    I’ve been having a one-on-one with my ego this morning. It’s wet and cold in my usually sunny climate. Thanks for the endearments.

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  5. says

    Thanks for the grin. Personally, I love knowing there are others like me who should be settling into middle age and fighting a good beer gut, but instead choose to dream big and chase rainbows.

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  6. Denise Willson says

    Nice to hear, Sharon, thank you. We (writers) are a largely misunderstood bunch, so it’s nice to hear there really are people out there who GET us. :)

    Denise Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth

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  7. says

    Sorry I missed the love-fest yesterday, Sharon, but wanted to tell you how much I love this essay. I also love that I’ve gotten to know you IRL. I can picture you saying these things perfectly, in your voice. That’s a gift.

    Makes me really look forward to the WU retreat next year, so more of us can share that gift. And won’t the stories at the bar be great?

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  8. says

    What a wonderful post, Sharon! While I’m envious that you get to have so much interaction with authors, at the same time, I’m not sure I could even come close to handling all that you do. Nor want to. Are you sure you actually sleep? ;)

    Thank you for letting me share in the love and look forward to what comes our way in 2014!

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  9. says

    Sharon, this is such a wonderful piece – and as someone who works with you daily I have to say that not only are you outstanding in your field, you really do make it FUN, and that means everything in an industry full of so much real (and potential) angst and disappointment!

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