Monday, 20 February 2012
Most people would describe me as outgoing. Loud. Energetic. Confident. Even my closest friends and family see me this way, yet it's often the most 'out there' people who crave quiet and reflection. And indeed - maybe even need it the most.
Sometimes this 'confidence' is actually false bravado. As Tina Fey once said "confidence is 10% hard work and 90% delusion”. Hear hear.
I've only admitted to a handful of people that I actually don't like being in the spotlight. I'll admit I want my WORK to be in the spotlight - yes, I do. And the reason I want it to be in the spotlight is because I want to succeed. Of course I do. Who doesn't?
I want my work to sell well, I want my work to become well-known - YES I do . . . because a) it brings me untold pleasure knowing my writing may touch people in some way (or encourage kids to read), and b) because I live and breathe writing, and have spent a lifetime wanting to be a full time writer. Succeeding at it, earning some money from it, will allow that dream to continue.
But having your work in the spotlight also means YOU, as the author, needs to be in the spotlight. This hasn't always been the way. Until very recently, being an author was a relatively anonymous profession, and in my early years of writing, I thrived on this anonymity. I'm an intensely private person, but will share parts of my world, my writing processes and my work because that's what is expected now - that's part of the author package.
It's been said that the difference between a successful modern author and a less successful one is how well they can market themselves. Like many professions in the Arts, everyone wants to do it - everyone wants to write - and indeed, modern technology has allowed virtually everyone to publish their work in some format, even if only on a blog.
So, the need to stand out in a world crammed with published work is vital - not only in terms of the quality of the work, but in terms of market saturation. You need to get a little pushy. You need to self-promote, you need to put yourself out there in ways you may not even enjoy. And frankly, I'll be honest, dear reader. I don't enjoy it. My video for Beijing Tai Tai is a case in point - I found this agonising, so made a parody of it.
Though I think it's certainly not Doom and Gloom, the book market hasn't been in a good place. Woeful sales, publishing cuts and under-staffing, however, have not seen a reduction in competition for a slice of the market pie. This has meant publishers require more of their authors. They need authors to get on board. To get out there. To push and sell and market themselves and their work, full force.
So, we are stuck. We have to do it. We have to push and promote ourselves, open ourselves, make ourselves vulnerable. We have to get market saturation at all costs, or we'll get lost in the fray. And if we get lost in the fray, our work could potentially disappear, too.
Sure, there are people who want fame and money from writing, but they rarely last long or are one-hit wonders. I've been writing professionally for 25 years (and have only made it 'full time' these past 5 years). Trust me when I say I take it seriously and am not in it for the money nor personal glory. Yet it seems a new undercurrent of hate towards anyone intent on publicising their work is surfacing. I'm not the only author to be experiencing this - others are, too; yes, we are talking about it.
I DO NOT find self-promotion easy and I absolutely feel pressured into 'putting myself out there'. I know I must do it if I want to be taken seriously and if I want my work to become well-known but it doesn't mean I want to be adored and feted over and 'famous'.
So, to the person who left a comment (anonymously, as is always the way of the weak) on this blog asking me if I was ever going to post anything that wasn't about 'me me me' - I have to say this: it seems you inadvertently found yourself in the wrong place for the information you seemingly sought regarding a recent book award event (that I attended). I know it may be hard to believe because it SO looks like one, but this is actually NOT an international news website and is NOT the website belonging to the award in question. This is a personal blog, that's, er ... ABOUT ME and my work and my life. I know it's deceptive because this personal blog really does appear like a national statistics government website, but - yes, sorry to say - it IS about me me me.
I also have to say that it seems you haven't yet found your passion. You are not following your dreams. You do not have the slightest inkling of an understanding of the book industry and its players, otherwise you would never have left that awful comment.
You do not know me. You will never know me because I could sniff out a person like you at 20 paces. You have also forgotten that I am not a photograph on the internet - I am flesh and blood, with feelings and heart. Your suggesting I am self-absorbed, vain and blindingly self-promoting is so far off the mark, I cannot even tell you how wrong you are. I promote MY WORK via my own PERSONAL blog, and to intimate that work could be promoted without the author also making an appearance is incredibly unrealistic, short-sighted and just plain ugly and mean.
If you have an issue with the way us perpetually 'struggling' authors self-promote, please send me an email and reveal your identity to me. Boy, would I love to chat with you.
I have two books coming out these next two months, so alas, you may just see me and my ugly mug and my book covers on the internet or in papers or mags even more so than usual. If you, anonymous snark, or anyone else, for that matter, gets jack of seeing me, then please just click away. I won't take offence but I will not apologise for writing books and putting myself [most necessarily] out there. I just want to write books and I want to CONTINUE to write, so please just let me do what I love. No need to hold it against me. No need to hate.
It's a tough gig being an author, but someone's gotta do it. And to my friends who love this industry, who understand it, and who are going through similar things - I'm holding your hand and I'm behind you all the way.
Let's not let the turkeys (and I truly mean turkeys) get us down. Hopefully they'll find their own passion soon and won't need to spend their empty time trolling.