I love that song, "I Don't Give a Damn About My Bad Reputation." But when it comes to writing and success, a lot rides on a good reputation.
One of my most favorite things to do is speak at conventions. There is so much excitement and Adventure, not to mention attention! It is every extrovert's dream! I also really enjoy my time there. I love interacting with the other guests as well as the fans. The costumes are phenomenal and where else can you stay up all night drinking and eating M&Ms with your friends and then have breakfast in the morning with the likes of Jacqueline Carey and Voltaire? Where else is Vic Milan going to chide you for not sneaking into the SFWA party?
Cons are, by far, my favorite authorial perk. It is where I can really shine and it is where I can make connections and network and it is where I get to see the people who buy my book face to face. This makes me the happiest of all.
And I have developed, over the past year and a half, a very good reputation among conventions. Such that, I have been asked back year after year. Sure they are expensive and a bit of a headache to plan around, but I have seen a marked increase in my sales as well as a healthy dose of name recognition. (Plus they make me deliriously happy to attend!) Slowly I am building my way to Mostly Famous (I would consider myself Nearly Famous right now!) and then I can be Really And Truly Famous (with a nice royalty check to match! Goodbye student loans!).
Even my wonderfully frugal fiance who watches our every penny has to admit that my momentum has caught on and it would be foolish to stop this snowball once it has started to roll downhill. So, more conventions for me! Yay for a sterling reputation!
In addition to building a good reputation for making appearances and being a valuable addition to conventions and other events, I have been developing a network of people for whom I have written and who are always willing to take a look at more of my work. This started with non-fiction and costume history writing. This has now begun to cross over into fiction where small publishers are requesting work from me. Now, if only I had it ready to give, I'd be set! I think that maybe I ought to finish this up and complete my grading and get home to log more words!
But long story short (too late!), a reputation is a valuable thing. It is precious and should be guarded and nurtured. I started this process in June 2006 and have seen excellent results, but it was certainly not an overnight process!
Be aware that writing is a business and you are more than just representing yourelf, you are representing yourself as a brand, as a marketable commodity. I think about that whenever I step foot out of my hotel room and out into the public convention space. I put such thought into my clothing, my hair, my perfume, like dressing a character for a play. It all plays into my reputation.
And without a good reputation, all the talent in the world can only take you so far.