What Would You Like to Know?

By John Gilstrap

Last week, when I published the January issue of Dispatches, my Jonathan Grave newsletter, I asked for guidance from my readership on how frequently the newsletter should come out. We all get pummeled by unwanted email, and I never want to tip over the line into the spam category.  The overwhelming consensus among the 30 or so respondents was for quarterly updates. (Click here if you’d like to subscribe.  I’d love to have you.)

A solid handful of people who wrote back to me also said that they would like to have links to videos or other media that show what a writer’s life is like. It’s easy to shrug off a request like that with the observation that the writing life is not significantly different than any other life that involves long hours of quiet contemplation at a desk, but I understand where they are coming from.  I recognize that I am blessed to be able to spend my days living the dream I’ve dreamed since childhood, and that alone puts writers in exotic real estate, especially in the perception of readers.  It explains why the pictures on my website of my office is one of the most frequently visited pages. I get it.  I respect it. In fact, one of my favorite pictures of another author is that of Stephen King working in a cluttered space with his feet propped up on the desk. It’s nice to get that peek behind the curtain.

I had the opportunity to bring this up over the weekend during a conclave of sorts with other authors, hoping to find some idea of what the subject of such videos might be, and I was introduced to the concept of Facebook Live, which, as I understand it, is pretty much what it sounds like: live audio-video streaming over Facebook, during which there can be direct and immediate interaction with viewers. With decent promotion of the event ahead of time, I could see that as a good way to stay closer to fans.

The big question, of course, is what I would talk about. Some suggested that I could do talks about guns and explosives, and while that clearly is a topic that interests me, I questioned whether or not it would do anything to promote or sell books. Perhaps I could read a chapter or a section from one of my books, kind of a fireside chat. The consensus was that the main goal was simply to be real to readers.  I’m going to give it a shot.

So, now I ask you: If you’re going to spend a half hour or so in direct contact with an author–it doesn’t have to be me specifically–what would you like the focus to be?  What information would you like to know?

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