The Creative (and busy!) Professional

Keeping things professional is a priority for any person who wants to be successful in the independent creative sphere. When it comes to authors and narrators, this comes up time and again. Doing a long-term project such as a book series or a multi-season podcast requires professional interaction with readers/listeners, but it’s a challenge when things get busy or complicated. This past week, the Dead Robots’ Society podcast approached this topic with a lot of experience and diverse viewpoints. I make no excuses for being what amounts to a DRS “fangirl” with my weekly listening and Facebook page participation; Justin, Terry, Paul, and Scott (yes, we’ll keep the mustached intern in mind!) are wonderful authors and creatives in their own individual spheres, and they are incredibly respectful of the narrator role in the production of audiobooks.

Disclosure: I’ve narrated or am in the process of narrating books for all of these gentlemen. They are wonderful to work with, and I don’t hesitate to agree to projects with them. Biased? Maybe, but I’m biased toward awesome.

During the most recent podcast (Episode #330) the guys talked about the need for authors (and by extension, creatives) to be professional in their interactions with fans as well as with fellow creatives. The guys talk about managing comments from fans regarding “the next work” as well as “more free work” and “why aren’t you writing?” They also discuss the need to keep a line between the personal and professional, and how much information to share with readers/listeners, especially via social media.

Much of this episode hit home for me, considering my status with the Secret World Chronicles podcast novel series. As both the narrator and producer, the podcast falls to me. Once the authors have finalized their words, I am left to record, edit, and release episodes out into the wild. While this is some very welcome freedom, it also means that I must create my own schedule and treat the podcast just like any other recording project. There are timelines and deadlines, and they must fit in with previously scheduled projects And, they must fit in around all of the other non-creative projects that fill my 168 hours each week.

As both narrator and producer, I am generally the first person to be tagged in a Facebook question in our SWC group that addressed the issue of the ‘next episode.’ Most of the time, people are politely inquiring about the status of the podcast because they enjoy the story and want more.

(See, right there it’s humbling. People want to hear something I read. Still trying to wrap my brain around that some days… but that’s my issue and not anyone else’s problem.)

Sometimes, I get a more insistent request about a firm date. On rare occasions, there are demands for more podcast episodes, because if I have time to be on Facebook or writing my own work, then that time should be devoted to recording and producing more SWC episodes. When those kinds of messages come my way, I confess to staring at the screen and wondering, “Am I lazy? Will we lose listeners if I don’t get something out right now? Why do they think I’m such a slacker?” And I sit back, reach for my coffee, and take a deep breath. It’s important to be polite. I don’t have to snap or be snarky when someone asks… even if the ask isn’t presented in the best way.

The representation online and in social media is a sliver of the real person. While it would be wonderful to write and narrate full time, that’s not my reality. The guys at DRS represent all sides of that situation, and they’ve had to explain to their fans and readers that at the moment, writing can’t pay all of the bills and some of that writing time has to go to a dayjob. When it comes to the free work, sometimes the writing or narration time needs to go toward paid work. To make a living from the craft, something has to be sold. We can’t sell a free podcast, so the free podcast may come after we finish the paid book. And as much as one wants to say, “well, you can’t always get free stuff, go buy something I’ve created rather than wait for the free stuff,” that’s not necessary. It’s not helpful, and it’s certainly not kind. The best response is a polite nod (of sorts) and a reminder that there are episodes in the queue, and that we’ve not abandoned the project.

That’s my current situation. As much as I would love to write and record more, there are other priorities. I don’t shy away from reminding people that I’m a mom, a wife, a university instructor and midlevel administrator (gah, shudder at that), and a doctoral student in addition to being a writer and a narrator. I put my family and my studies ahead of many pasttimes, and I maintain a steady recording schedule so I can complete audiobooks. If I had more contracts and could match my dayjob income with recording, I’d be all over it… but, that means that people need to buy the books I’ve narrated. Facts of life and all.

The DRS guys talk about keeping the personal to a minimum as well. I try to do that, only because I’ve been burned in the past by individuals who have demanded too much of my personal information and too much of my personal time. I don’t friend people much anymore on Facebook; instead, I direct them to my artist page. That tends to make things manageable.

The episode made me feel better about telling people to just wait, that I will record as I work through my narration priorities and projects. Others can respect my schedule, or they can come back when we’ve got more episodes, and I can be polite and gracious that people are still asking about the episodes. I’m always grateful when folks subscribe and listen to any of the work that I’ve done. The truth of it is that I’m busy because I want to make time in my life to record and write, and the harder that I work for my doctorate, the faster I can finish it and free up the time and open up opportunities to narrate and write.

But… well, if you’ve heard, you know. As always, thank you for listening.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 8:39 pm and is filed under writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “The Creative (and busy!) Professional”

  1. Anne Elizabeth Baldwin Says:

    I’m enjoying reading Broken. I wish I could listen to it, but… Yeah, I could read along on this one, which would make a world of difference. I just have to convince myself it’s worth the self-consciousness that tends to come along with that. It makes me feel like I’m back in Kindergarten, which makes me wonder about the intervening four decades. {rueful look}

    There always will be people who expect far more than I think is reasonable. Their perspective tends to turn out be narrower, or at least severely slanted compared to mine. It’s frustrating, but I agree that the only thing you can do is try to be polite but firm. {Sympathetic Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. Doc Coleman Says:

    Good work takes time. Much as people want what they want, they don’t want a sloppy product.