Hours of sweating over a story, hours of researching markets for your story, hours of composing cover letters and queries…and that’s just for the chance to be rejected by some gatekeeper.
It’s easy to forget the thrill of sharing a story directly with a reader.
That’s why I organize an annual virtual literary festival, StoryFest, for the people who participate in StoryADay May. And, in this post, I’m going to explain why I do it, how I do it and why you might want to do something similar for your community of writer-friends.
While my wish for all writers is to be generously compensated for their artistic efforts, I’ve come to realize that sometimes it’s just as important to experience that thrill of being read. Hearing feedback from readers (especially readers who aren’t related to us) reminded us of the power of story.
It’s not all about editors and character arcs and raising the stakes.
Telling stories is about connecting with another mind, creating emotions in another heart, sharing this human experience in a deep way.
No better feeling than when someone GETS me Even just one person. Makes a huge difference.
So, What is a Virtual Literary Festival?
It’s one weekend when stories, nominated by writers and readers in the community, take over the front page of my website.
Everyone who is showcasing a story in the ‘festival’ tells their friends and invites them to come and check out all the stories.
What’s The Point?
In my case, I want to celebrate the extraordinary effort of the writers in my community, who labor to produce a story a day for a month. They need a sort of ‘recital’ at the end, as a reward.
But don’t we all deserve that kind of celebration from time to time?
By mounting a literary festival online, I allow my writers to share their work far and wide, without anyone having to travel or worry about the weather, or commit to a whole afternoon of literary events.
The best part about a virtual literary festival is the shared audience:
- My friends come to the site to find a link to my story.
- While they’re there, they may become intrigued by the title or summary of your story too.
- If they read your story and love it, they become not just my friend, but your fan.
Each writer in the festival brings potential new readers to every other writer. We each increase our reader base by supporting each other.
Moreover, we get to share our work with each other and with readers. It’s incredibly thrilling to know your story is being read by people who are strangers!
And it is not just a thrill, it’s useful to experience that. It helps us remember that we are writing for readers, not simply trying to please an editor with their own business needs and personal preferences.
Focusing on delighting the reader can be reinvigorating to a writer who has become too caught up in the business side of things.
And, from the reader’s point of view, being part of a limited-time event is exciting! The deadline gives them a reason to check out your stories NOW, while the virtual literary festival is happening, and not to simply add it to a To Be Read list.