I posted this on Crimespace a few days ago, and thought I'd also post it here.
I’m worried. Really worried.
About how self-promotion has become not only expected but required. And the more the better. I recently heard a small-press publicist say their writers should invest more than their advance on promotion. Three years ago I was presented with a verbal list of possible self-promotion ideas:
Start a blog, attend conferences, get involved in more online groups and online events, give talks at libraries, travel to small towns and speak, make a book trailer, have online contests and possibly a writing competition, join more organizations, enter my books in more contests, do a monthly newsletter, put together a mailing list, visit more bookstores.
The argument for all of this is that publishers have no idea if any of it helps, but it certainly can’t hurt.
The few who agree with me about the futility of self promotion usually say it takes away from a writer’s writing time.
It took away all of my free time and left me mentally exhausted.
It wouldn’t be so bad if my efforts had mattered, but we are all just kids at our individual Kool-Aid stands, holding up our signs, begging people to stop and buy. And on every corner is another Kool-Aid stand serving up another version of cherry-flavored anxiety.
Our family and neighbors shuffle over. But mainly we just stand around and drink our own stuff and go check out the other stands to see what flavors they’re selling that day. And while we’re there, delivery trucks go by taking Kool-Aid to stores all over the country.
Is our willingness to wear ten different hats, no matter how poorly, giving publishing houses more of a reason to step back and do less? As a group, are we hurting ourselves? Especially when publishing houses already have a system in place that we can never come close to touching no matter how hard we work or how much money we spend.
The national decline in reading can’t be fixed by opening a Kool-Aid stand.
I’m giving myself permission to write. Just write. And maybe enjoy life a little bit while I’m at it.