THE STRANGE CASE OF THE AMAZINGLY APPEALING PHOTOGRAPH (YES, THIS ONE). WHO IS THIS GUY?
I find it truly ironic that book writers—who tend towards the solitary and introverted—now have to market themselves actively and effectively (to the extent of building up a substantial following) before an agent, let alone a publisher, will even look at them.
But what about the writing?
Frankly, in our current culture, one’s writing is irrelevant if not pre-determined—as validated by social media—to have significant sales appeal.
Do Facebook ‘likes’ in fact equate to sales? Well, that’s a whole other can of worms, but they do validate an agent’s argument when he is pushing your work—and, similarly, they justify a publisher’s acquisition committee’s decision to purchase and publish.
Yes, now that the large traditional publishers have been condensed into five corporatized bemoths (an oligopoly), committees are how it’s done these days (so don’t try and be too original).
But, on that basis—if the author has to do all the work—why have an agent and publisher? Well, to be fair, there is a great deal more to publishing a book than marketing—although marketing is the dominant requirement—but many of us are currently asking exactly that question (especially given that many writers are treated less than optimally by such middlemen). Furthermore, more than a few of us who have undertaken the task of self-publishing professionally—and with adequate resources—have done impressively well (though there is much debate about the actual figures).
Personally, I have chosen the self-publishing route—better known these days as ‘indie publishing’—and it was in furtherance of that goal that late last March, and early April, that I initiated a series of tests to try and resolve the positioning issue. I have long regarded that question as the hardest to answer. It’s more art than science.
Positioning, in essence, is how you represent your brand to the marketplace in order to maximize your sales appeal. Marketing probably has a formal definition, but that is how I see it.
To that end, I issued the above photo—somewhat reluctantly since I have never particularly liked my appearance, and have certainly never considered myself a good-looking man. In terms of ego, I’m proud of my brain—despite its eccentricities—but, in the absence of an alternative, have never more that tolerated my appearance.
As far as the photo is concerned, others would disagree. The response has been mind-boggling to the point of extraordinary.
And it is continuing.
Who is this affable looking adventurer with the laughter lines around his eyes? Does my life, as I remember it, equate to that physical appearance? I look, indeed, like a man who has had a good and interesting life—and is continuing to do so.
I have no explanation.
I can but chuckle.