Thursday, May 21, 2009

To Promote or Not to Promote

I am an author, and I would like to stay an author. It's one of the things I feel called to do.

But to get published and stay published, publishers want you to be self-promoting. It's one of the things you hear over and over. Like in this interview with my friend who's an aquisitions editor at NavPress, and like my marketer at Group has brought up several times.

But though God has given me a love of writing, he has given me a loathing, a deep slimy loathing, of promoting. I hate it. I really do. I am the exact opposite of a marketer. And have you met many writers? We're not all exactly social whizzes, flitting about our finesse at the parties. Heck, I'm not even the one in the corner at the party. I'm the one at home in my old college T-shirt blissfully eating cereal from the box and watching What Not to Wear reruns.
And I like it that way.

So I find myself in a quandary. Do I shout my name from the rooftops. Do I start a web site devoted to me, Me, ME! Do I seek out as many public speaking opportunities as possible? Do I make this site: Clever Phrase Here: Amber Van Schooneveld Is So Hot Right Now! Do I Twitter my status to tens of adoring fans who want to know that I just clipped my toenails?

I would rather eat the mortar Mike is scrubbing on the floor right now. Yet I feel the pressure. They unholy pressure I create for myself: That tightening of the chest. What if I don't get out there and get mine? But also the justified pressure: Publishers can't abide hermit authors in a time when you hear of another publishing layoff every month.

It's not about getting mine. If the world passes me by, I'll be all the happier. But the two realities remain: I feel compelled to write, but I hate to promote.


Jen said...

That Amber...she's so hot right now. She could take a crap, wrap it in tinfoil, put a couple fish hooks on it and sell it to Queen Elizabeth as earrings.

I apologize for the crudeness, but I couldn't pass up the quote!

Amber, I get the same loathing when it comes to review time here at work.

We have to write down all our accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses (which no one seems to really have, just silly weaknesses like "i'm a perfectionist, I just can't let something go if it's not right"). So many people take it as a time to gloat and try to get a promotion (aka...more money and status) instead of the true nature which is to take credit for what you do, but also to get some feedback on how to be better at what you do. The part that i hate about it is the self-promotion, "i'm-so-much-better-than-so-and-so" side of it, where my manager works with me to help it put me in the best I do well in the rating and promotion part of it..... Can't I just do my job and let the results speak for themselves??

I'll be president of your fan club and the first one to sign up for your twitter updates if it comes to that!!! I'd even the above mentioned earrings for you.

Jon The Hart said...

I like 'Do I Twitter my status to tens of adoring fans...'

Being a naturally confident and prideful person, I struggle to identify with your problem. However, I think that there are plenty of hermit writers who get their books published. The self-promotion might alter the rate at which you become popular as an author, but in the end it's all about product. Some authors are completely anonymous, I remember reading Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule and in the back it had a picture of him and said 'Terry Goodkind lives in the western United States.' And that was all it said... that's not anonymity, but it led me to believe that he was a fairly private fellow. I think you can succeed doing as much or little self-promotion as you feel comfortable with. Heck, some people don't even meet with publishers, but have an agent that does that for them.

Publishers may like authors that are self-promoting, as it's less work for them to do, but at the end of the day they are in business to make money and if your self-promotion was the difference in their mind between a profitable book and an unprofitable book, they wouldn't pay you to write it. Their confidence in your ideas and your ability as a writer are what they are investing in, and if they can convince you to work more by self-promoting then that's icing on the cake for them.

So just be you, do what you do.