This is a topic my mind’s been flirting with off and on for the last few years. A couple of posts on other blogs made their way around Twitter and other places over the weekend. The first from “Hi Miss Julie!” and a response with tips from Andromeda Yelton*. With those brewing in the back of my head, I found out today that an article I wrote for Library Journal was selected to be the cover article. At this point in time, I think some people would go, “of course you got the cover!” Thanks for your confidence in me! I know others are possibly wondering how they can be the next me. Well, you can’t be the next me. You can be the next you.
I’ve had a lot of doors to opportunities opened for me over the years. When I think of how long it actually has been, my mind is blown. So much of it feels like only yesterday. The great majority of these doors were shown to me after much time spent asking questions, answering questions, and talking to people about topics I was, and am, interested in. By doing this, I built a reputation. When I first graduated from library school, there was no Twitter. I participated on listserves like Fiction_L. Thanks to the contacts I made there, and through conference attendance, I was asked to be on the inaugural committee of The Reading List after the 2007 ALA Midwinter meeting. Funnily enough, at that same conference, I was also asked if I’d be willing to create a bibliography on erotica for a panel that was being held at the Annual conference that summer in DC. More on that later, though.
I got on to Twitter almost six years ago because of a passing comment a friend made about the creation of a group I was interested in. The group got its start due to a conversation on Twitter. I wanted to be where conversations like that were happening. While on Twitter, I started interacting with people who shared my interests. First library people, then romance genre people, and as an extension of romance, publishing people.
In the summer of 2010, I got back on Fiction_L and asked if anyone had changed or adjusted how they handled reader’s advisory services with the advent of ebook collections in libraries. I asked the same on Twitter. Things blew up from there. Due to relationships I had been building, I was approached to write articles for RUSQ and Romance Writers Report of the Romance Writers of America, do interviews of publishing professionals for Library Journal, and appear on a number of panels at publishing and library conferences to discuss ebooks in libraries and reader’s advisory and ebooks. My head was spinning.
Then, I changed jobs. My day-to-day duties no longer included management of an ebook collection, so I started losing touch with the immediate concerns of what was going on with that topic. Frankly, I was fine with the situation. I was getting a bit burned out.
Let’s go back to that erotica bibliography. The panel I did the bibliography for? Zane was on it. When the committee putting together the panel listed the bibliographies they planned to have on hand, erotica was not on that list. Romance was, but not erotica. When I raised my hand in the committee meeting–and I was there as a guest, mind you–I asked if they planned to incorporate erotica into romance or if they were going to do a separate bibliography. The committee chair asked if I’d be willing to write the bibliography, and without a second’s hesitation I said yes. There was no way on Earth I was going to let there be no erotica bibliography for a panel where Zane was a guest!
Friends remembered I was interested in the topic, especially when I continued to talk about what I was reading on Twitter, and talking to friends who wrote erotica and erotic romance. I also came out to some friends as being a writer of erotica. Now, most of these friends can tell you I write it, but many of them can’t remember my pseudonym. Again, this is something I’m okay with–if not exactly ecstatic about–because I have two sisters-in-law whose professions have led them to working in schools and we share the same name. I do not want what I write to at all affect their careers which is why I only refer to my alter ego as “alter ego” when writing as myself.
Around the time I was starting my current job, there was this book that was making the rounds. Anyone heard of Fifty Shades of Grey? I thought so. Leaving off my thoughts on it, librarians who knew me started asking me about erotica. First for stories/authors for them to read and for them to recommend to their patrons. One friend suggested my name to another friend of hers to be a part of a panel presentation (admittedly, the panel proposal was done in fall 2011, but the panel itself was around the time 50SOG really hit). Since that panel, three more speaking opportunities have presented themselves, though I was only able to take on two due to scheduling. Then, I was asked to write an article for LJ on the topic. That will be out in the February 15th issue and will be the cover article!
All of this because I asked some questions about the topics I was interested in. These are the topics I am and have been passionate about. I’ve let my passion shine through. The speaking opportunities were definitely helped by the fact in my previous position I was responsible for preparing and delivering continuing education classes on a regular basis. The writing opportunities were helped by the fact I routinely wrote for publication, both fiction and non-fiction. By the way, with either fiction or non-fiction, you really need to grow a thick hide and get used to having to do revisions. It *really* helps if you want repeat business. I’ve found that opportunities tend to breed other opportunities. Though, I will also admit to totally being in the right place at the right time for a good many of these same opportunities.
Ultimately, having a good and friendly attitude gets you far. I don’t mean you have to be a suck up. I *so* do not mean you have to be a suck up. That’s just as annoying as dealing with someone with a diva complex. What I do mean is: be yourself, be positive, be passionate.
*Also, I am available for speaking engagements including keynotes