For whatever growth God has granted Speculative Faith, and now the Lorehaven project, we might attribute this one manmade reason:
We have chosen to focus on fans, not writers.
Beyond the ‘writicism’
Back in 2013, I codified this renewed focus in the article The Forgotten Reader. In this article, I recalled:
Seven years ago I attended my first writers’ conference. That was a heady experience:
Wow here are other writers just like me who like writing about actual science fiction and things like that and best of all from a Christian perspective so where do I sign up and will you listen to my very naïve science-fiction novel proposal please with a minimum of laughing?
It bore fruit. That’s how I made real- and aspiring-author friends. I joined Speculative Faith. That site grew. Other sites, networks, independent publishers, and even some traditional Christian publishers’ slow acceptance of some fantasy, also grew. That’s fantastic. And it’s likely true that any growth here may be better than none.
But this can reach a plateau. Many websites and writers neglect the main reason they should grow. They turn into what I’ll call Writers Who Write about Writing for Writers Who also Write about Writing. Writers end up practicing writicism.
No, I’m not saying this is sin. I’m saying it’s limiting. It’s shooting ourselves in the foot.
We’re doing the same thing we’d do if we decided: Hey, let’s try not to reach out to regular readers.
Focus on the fan-ily
Some years ago, this focus on fans, not writers focus became more of a guiding policy here at SpecFaith.
At least, this was certainly my hope as the writer who helped reboot the site in 2010.1
- We began encouraging guest writers to focus on universal story ideas, not writing tips and tricks.
- We all but banned professional industry-talk about agents, editing, publishing, and such-like.
- For my part, I became near-legalistic about SpecFaith writers’ phrases like “as writers, we …”
- (In such legalisms, I became a nonfiction Editor, and I have no regrets.)
How did this fan-focus help SpecFaith and later, Lorehaven?
This decision to focus on fans, not writers, probably brought short-term loss but long-term gains.
By “short-term loss,” I mean that for a large segment of dedicated writers who spend a lot of time on websites, they may have felt SpecFaith became less practically useful to them.2 As we became more fan-focused, you couldn’t come here expecting to learn about verb tenses and protagonist arcs. For proposal formatting and agent-seeking, you’d have to look elsewhere (such as the fine folks at Realm Makers!).
But by “long-term gains,” I mean that our audience has certainly grown thanks to our emphasis on fans.
- We still talk about stories in-depth, but from a place of mainly receiving them, not just making them.
- Generally (for my part) I think we try to avoid authorly jargon. Disregard protagonists; acquire heroes.
- We put far more time into cultivating the Lorehaven library and especially the reviews section.
Break out of the echo chamber
On this I’ve much more to say. However, I’d also love to hear your thoughts as fans, authors, and anyone in between.
Therefore, I invite you to join us this Thursday, June 11, for a special livestream event at Realm Makers on Crowdcast.
What and why: When writers only write for other writers about writing, we ignore readers! Join this quest to overcome “writicism” in our marketing so our stories can find more fans.
Where: Realm Makers on Crowdcast
When: Thursday, June 11 at 8 p.m. (7 Central)
How: Sign up for your place in line here. You can get notifications when the event goes live, and for future Realm Makers livestream events. Crowdcast watchers can interact in chat, answer the poll question, and pose their own questions. (The video will also be mirrored at the Realm Makers page on Facebook, but without the interactive options.)
Meanwhile: Hear how top authors address ‘PG-13’-rated story content
To be sure, we share plenty of fantastic behind-the-scenes content across the Lorehaven star system.
The latest such craft-building delight just dropped today at the Fantastical Truth podcast. In our latest episode, you can hear how authors Terry Brooks, Brent Weeks, Robert Liparulo, C. W. Briar, and myself explore that constant challenge of “PG-13”-rated (or worse) content in fiction. That’s courtesy of our friends and allies at Realm Makers, who provided the panel recording from last year’s Realm Makers conference.
Get the full show notes, or listen below to the complete episode 19.
- I make these mild disclaimers about the reader (not writer) focus because SpecFaith has volunteer writers who choose their own topics. Apart from light touches for headlines and social media shares, we have no editorial structure for regular writers. Heavier edits are reserved for reader-submitted reviews and guest articles. Lorehaven magazine also has a set editorial structure. By the way, this is partly why we don’t have an open submissions policy for Lorehaven magazine articles and reviews. ↩
- I base this on general observation about trends, and no specific feedback. ↩