I love words. I love how easy it is to manipulate them to mean something they never meant to mean, and I love how they roll off my tongue when I read a good piece of writing aloud. As a novelist, nailing the essence of a character’s feelings at a particular moment in the story pleases me greatly. I write because I can’t not write.
Lately, however, I have found myself writing less and less as I’m tied down to a task that I not only take no pleasure in whatsoever but which seems pointless to the point of pain. Marketing. Promoting. Selling the artistic soul. Yeah, that. And for what?
Here’s how it is for the self-published author. You write the book. If you lack the ability or the gift, you pay someone else to edit and proofread the book, design the cover for the book, set up the interior layout of the book and, ultimately, make sure the book all comes together as a cohesive whole. And that, it turns out, is only the beginning.
Or the end. Because before you ever sat down to write that book, you should have been blogging and signing up for every social media site available. You should have had a platform ready to go before you knew what a platform was. The platform, they say, is key to establishing your brand, and establishing your brand is paramount to success in self-publishing.
Or, so they say.
The reality is somewhat removed from all the articles (hundreds upon hundreds, perhaps thousands) written almost daily regarding how to do all that marketing stuff and how if you just do as “I” say (whoever “I” is), you’ll see your sales increase tenfold—nay—a hundredfold.
Yeah, right. In the end, it’s just so much BS.
Imagine yourself in a room filled with people—and I do mean filled with people. To the point where breathing is but a distant memory and you wonder if you’ll ever know the refreshment of a cool breeze on your skin again because no place on your body is untouched by part of someone else’s body. All of that crushing humanity, and everyone shouting incessantly, “BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!! BUY MY BOOK!!!”
That’s what my Facebook news feed and my Twitter feed look like. The weight of humanity landing on my social media accounts, yelling directly in my ear that the pictured book in the link to Amazon with the guy and his six- or eight-pack abs on the cover is definitely the book I want to buy. (I use this particular illustration because romance seems to be the bestseller of bestsellers in the indie world—most poorly written, pushed out half a dozen a year by any individual author and beloved by their readers. I have to admit that as a feminist, I find this appalling, and as a writer…well, you get the picture.)
I read a blog today called “Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work,” and I took Delilah S. Dawson’s cautionary tale as the call of a liberator unlocking and opening the door to the marketing cage. I’m stepping out of the room where all the hawkers screech and returning to writing. I’m totally finished with Instagram, and Twitter will mostly languish. I’ll stay in touch with friends on Facebook, but my “author” presence will diminish a bit.
As Ms. Dawson goes into marvelous detail about why social media doesn’t work, I refer you to her and her blog on the topic to defend my decision and, perhaps, to allow you to hear the call and decide for yourself.
(And note, as I did when I went to link to the blog post, that she’s added a new one today discussing what she knows about being marketed to from a reader’s perspective. Also good stuff.)