Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26 2014: A culture of self-promotion that makes me uneasy—even if it is required behavior for an author today. Are we forever doomed to have to try to out-promote each other? Or should we just chill, and enjoy the game?

“Don't think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine.”

Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

“Well more than two thirds of the press releases from Douglas MacArthur's command reference only one person – himself.”

Stanley Weintraub, Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941

“Heroes must see to their own fame. No one else will.”

 Gore Vidal, Julian

I feel like something of a hypocrite for even raising this matter because blogging—in itself—is clearly a form of self-promotion, so you could well argue that I’m protesting too much (being a hypocrite).

Not my intention. I’m more puzzled. I think we are faced with a genuine dilemma here and I wish I could see some answers.

On a national level, I do think there is a great deal we could do to rein in the unceasing barrage of promotion we are exposed to. Everything doesn’t have to be paid for through advertising. Europe has already demonstrated that commercialism—and promotion (its seemingly inevitable byproduct), can be restrained in numerous ways while still encouraging a vigorous economy. Here, it is worth mentioning that Northern Europe—despite its constraints on commercialism—is doing better than us economically, and has been doing so for some time.

What are such constraints? Here are a few examples:

  • Limited shop opening hours.
  • Superior consumer protection through legislation.
  • Numerous restraints on advertising in the media.
  • Alternative means of financing the media.

Where writers are concerned, I don’t see such straightforward solutions.

  • The book market is over-crowded to a fault—and the situation only looks like getting worse for the indefinite future.
  • There is abundant evidence that the quality of a book alone will not normally result in significant sales.
  • Word of mouth is hugely important, but that rarely happens by accident.. It is a consequence of marketing. Best Sellers in the U.S. are largely made.

My concerns about self-promotion are:

  • It takes up a vast amount of time which I feel should be spent on writing.
  • I feel our efforts are largely self-canceling.
  • I’m not innately comfortable doing it. I was brought up to regard self-promotion was bad form—“just not done”—so I have something of a cultural problem here.
  • I don’t feel I have a natural talent for it.

But here is the twist. Over time, I find I’m becoming vastly more comfortable with the whole crazy business. I still have the strongest reservations, but I have learned to love blogging—and now regard it as an essential part of my writing life.

Recently, I have been carrying out a series of tests in social media—and, lo and behold, have suddenly found I’m comfortable in the milieu.

As for my new web site, I have put huge effort into it, and am downright excited about it. No, it is not uploaded yet.

I guess the bottom line is that, deplore self-promotion though I do intellectually; I now accept its inevitability—and the fact that it’s all communication.

And communication—normally by way of the written word—is what I do—and enjoy.

As for radio, TV, press interviews, and public speaking, these have not become an issue as yet. However, I’m not entirely inexperienced in these areas—and actually like engaging an audience. It gets the adrenalin going.

Watch this space.



No comments:

Post a Comment