Agent after agent, publisher after publisher, writer after writer, they all tell the same story. The glory days of hiding out on a small island in the Caribbean, sipping on rum, cranking out the occasional novel, and picking up the generous quarterly royalty check have officially come to an end, never to return. In this new world a writer, regardless of publishing route (traditional or indie), must promote, promote, and then promote some more.
Now, my parents raised me to help others - love your neighbor and all that. They taught me that it’s more important to give than to receive. They lived a life of never drawing attention to their many self-sacrificial deeds. When I first headed down the self-promo path it felt awkward to say the least…maybe even a little wrong. Figuring out creative ways to tell people they should buy my book seemed to prostitute creativity itself.
To put it another way, after a couple hours of promoting, I feel like a good long bath is in order. Or like I’ve been impersonating a three-year-old - jumping up and down yelling “look at me” trying to get his parent’s attention. I know some of you are thinking this guy’s an American from California, that’s ALL they know how to do! Point taken. However, I’ll just come out and say it: I’m not a huge fan of self-promoting, at least not the impersonal attention-grabbing headlines version of it.
Just to be clear, it’s not that I don’t believe my writing worth a read, because I DO, very much so. I believe my suspense/thriller to be entertaining, thought-provoking, emotionally powerful, and on a very basic level beneficial for anyone who takes the journey. And others have confirmed that. The main character, John Truman, struggles with pretty much everything, but in the deep places of his heart he yearns to know one thing: who is he and why is he. I truly think you should read it. Not because it’s the greatest novel of all time (that’s purely subjective anyway) but because underneath the suspenseful and thrilling ride it gives the reader permission to look inside and ask questions about fundamental issues in our lives…questions that need to be asked, explored, and answered.
Over the past few months I have managed to justify my self-promoting behavior by making the argument that reading my novel is an intrinsically worthwhile exercise (which is true). I also tell myself that I’m not in this just to make a buck (and that’s also quite true), so I can strike mercenary in its most technical definition from my list of motivating factors. Furthermore, I believe in each and every person following their dreams and doing what they most love, including me. So writing, for me, makes the world a better place.
On a related note, I do, very much, want to help others and see them succeed. I’m a community guy regardless of whether the community is down the street or down the e-street (shout out to my UK writer mates). I strongly believe that when one downtrodden, marginalized, oppressed soul finds freedom and love (i.e., succeeds) that we ALL gain, each and every one of us. So I’m quite comfortable pulling out my machete to assist other writers in carving out a path through their getting-noticed jungle. Besides, when I do become uber-successful I want to live in that nice place with other battle worn soldiers, sharing one another’s joy and stories…and reaching out to help the next one take that step up the ladder.
So I’m finding, or trying to find, the balance in this self-promotion-based paradigm. I believe in my calling, if you will, to write...and that what I’ve created will more than return the time-money anyone invests in it. I believe in helping others and I believe their creations to be worth the investment as well. That’s where the light goes on and everything comes together for me.
This Sunday, Superbowl Sunday, a group of fine writers from across the globe will be working hand-in-hand to promote one another. We will be tweeting/retweeting #samplesunday, highlighting fine (and free) writing samples from talented writers. And I will smile as I watch the It’s-all-about-me paradigm exit stage left to make room at center stage for the more powerful, worthwhile, and fulfilling It’s-all-about-us.
Happy Sunday! Cheers.
2 days ago