Twitter. Blogs (Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, etc). YouTube (or Vimeo). Website promotion. Triberr. Forums (they are legion). Facebook. GoodReads. Library Thing. Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Smashwords. And maybe Pinterest.
I’m sure there are far more other things that should go on that list, but we’ll leave it at that for now. How ever long the list, promoting your work is what it is all about today and if you don’t have an account at all the things I listed above, then you are probably not a successful author.
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts lately about how authors need to be more aggressive about their work, how they need to hone their platform, and how to leverage the free internet tools at our disposal. All of these posts assume one thing: you want to be as widely read as possible.
That’s a fair assumption.
I mean, why do we write if not to be read? Writing is a two-way street. Yes, I might conjure up a story for the sake of the story only, but once I put my thoughts on paper (or on the screen), I instinctively expect someone (okay, maybe only my mum) will read it some day. And, whether I admit it to myself or not, I hope that they’ll like it.
But do I really have to become an internet whore to be an author? Let me qualify that question: Do I really have to become an internet whore to be a successful author?
Let me ask a different question: How do you define a successful author? Once you have the definition in mind, ask yourself one more question: Is that who you want to be?
My answer is no. The base assumption that I want my work to be read as widely as possible (an adequate definition for a successful author as any seeing that it includes all that being widely read would entail; i.e., lots of sales and awards) is wrong. It’s wrong for me.
I understand the need for authors to self-promote, and I whole heartily agree that if you plan to make writing your career, you had better learn how to pimp yourself. If you don’t, you’re not really writing. Remember, writing is a two-way street. No readers, no writing.
But what about those of us who write as a hobby? I like to write, and I sure as hell like it when someone says they enjoyed something I wrote, but this is not my career. It might turn into one, someday, but it doesn’t pay the bills now nor will it in the foreseeable future. Why do I need to navigate the internet red-light district trying to woo (reader) John and Jane?
I wish I had the answer to that. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground for us hobby-authors. You either get your act together and lay out your wares with all the sparkle and strut you can manage, or you flounder and fail, never to be read and left to die a junkie’s spasmodic death from a lack of the one drug we can’t do without: attention.
You tell me. What’s the answer. Should I lose a few pounds, doll myself up, and hit the catwalk? Or should I be content to swim in the shallow end of the pool, getting an occasional visit from someone taking a breather from the scary, deep end?
(Side question: how many more metaphors do you think I could have used in this post?)
- In which I compare blogging to prostitution. (icanhasopinions.wordpress.com)
- You Are Your Author Platform (turndogmillionaire.com)
- You’re Not Working Hard Enough. (laneymcmann.com)