Loveland, Colo., author Harrison Hand signs a copy of one of his books. He spoke about self-publishing and editing during Fort Collins Startup Week in February 2020.
By Shelley Widhalm
Do writers need editors? Yes. Do they need a brand? Probably. Do they need a why? Most definitely.
When writers start writing, they typically plan out the plot of their book or start with a character or two or a world-building premise. Or they jump right into the writing without a plan. The two types are plotters vs. pantsers.
The Why of Writing
But what about the why of writing? Why do you care about the characters? Why do they care about the story? Why should readers care?
These “why” questions are just a start. They also have to tie into the journalist Ws of who and what, or who are you as a writer and what you want to produce. The Ws are important for the business side of writing, or the branding and marketing of a book or series.
“What is your reason for writing your book? Why should the audience listen to the author?” said Harrison Hand, author or the Skyler Tortuga series, including the latest release, “Secrets of the Dragonfly Dancer,” and owner or The Harrison Hand Studio in Loveland, Colo.
The How of Publishing
Hand spoke about The Why during his one-hour presentation about self-publishing, “How to Publish Your Book for Under $100,” which he gave Feb. 24 during Fort Collins Startup Week in Fort Collins, Colo.
“You are your brand,” Hand said, explaining that building a brand about who you are as a writer and what you create is key to marketing. “Be sure to establish your voice, owning your words and owning your place in creating.”
Voice is part of that branding, alongside the books the writer creates, Hand said.
“The audience cares about both the creator and the creations,” Hand said, explaining that the audience wants to connect with the creator. “Marketing starts with the why; that’s how you connect with people. Why do you have this voice?”
The What of Finding Voice
Writers need to find their own voice, Hand said. He looks at writing differently than many other writers, where he is breaking the rules. He says it the way he wants to say it, he said. He advised once the writing (and hopefully editing) is finished to tie the book to something.
Hand’s Skyler Tortuga series is about bullying, and he wants to empower the next generation of readers to believe in themselves, where young female heroines learn that they can complete themselves without needing a romantic figure. He conducted a heroic reader crowd funding campaign, handing out paid copies of his books to children who are readers—his target is third- to sixth-graders.
Hand found a way to not need an editor by working with early readers, getting feedback and doing his own editing. He recommended jumping into the self-publishing arena before slogging about looking for an agent.
Where to Start
“Start publishing other stuff, get a following, create some buzz and credibility, and then it’s easier to find an agent for your great American novel,” Hand said. “They let the audience determine what’s interesting.”
Writers need to get the branding and marketing in place, or they might get noticed by an agent, but either way, knowing The Why is crucial to finding, keeping and growing voice, style and story.