I Heart Indies

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to Be a Literary Luminary

What’s it mean to be a literary luminary, and why should you become one? The simple answer is that acquiring a reputation, even within a small circle, as a person who knows about writers and writing creates credibility for yourself as an author. When your book is published, you have a built in audience receptive to the idea of reading it. Even more importantly, as a serious writer, you have specialized knowledge, talents, and a unique perspective you can share with readers and other writers.

So far, what have I done to make myself a literary luminary? I interview Georgia authors for GPB’s radio program, Cover to Cover. This not only allows me to get my own name mentioned on the airwaves, I get to bring other writers to the attention of the public. This is a real privilege; writers are the most intriguing, charming, and intelligent people I know. Getting to talk to them about their work is always a pleasure. I have often benefited from the generosity of my fellow authors, and it gratifies me to “pay it forward,” even in a small way.

In February, I’ll be teaching a Sunday school class on the writings of Flannery O’Connor. She is a writer whose work I’ve come to admire relatively late in life, and I look forward to the chance to explore some of her short stories in depth.

This all leads to the point, that ultimately, self-promotion is an act of generosity. It means giving of what you have, making yourself available and open to your public.

I’d love to hear your ideas for becoming a literary luminary in your own community: do you volunteer at the library, do read-alouds at your local school, conduct a writers’ workshop, or run a book club. Let me know.

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