So I was moseying along through Facebook when I came upon a repost of a blog entry called something like "Why I Won't Try To Sell You My Book."
To which I thought, "Wazzamattayou?"
But...to be fair...I read further into it, and a few things resonated.
Despite the tone, which was a bit cloying in its sweetness and light ("I honestly AM happy for others when they succeed!"), the writer made excellent points, in that she talked about a great, great number of authors out there who use the Internet and social networking for only one thing: commercials. And how that's become such a turn-off that she, and many like her, aren't bothering to read lots of blogs or tweets or updates anymore. Even from people who are their friends.
Because those people have decided that since the social network is all about Networking...
...which is a nice way of saying it's about buttonholing every single solitary person who happens by and giving them a sales pitch...
...by golly, that's what they dare not miss a chance to DO.
And so in the end, what could be a presence of a person online becomes nothing more than the presence of a carnival hawker or snake-oil vendor.
It becomes a series of tweets about "Guess what number my book is on Amazon today????!!!!"
It becomes status updates that talk about "Want tips on success in the writing biz? See my info offer!!!!"
And nothing else.
Who's responsible for this embarrassing phenomenon?
Various people opined that it's partially traditional publishing's fault.
N.B.: whenever someone refers to "traditional publishing," almost inevitably it's gonna be the beginning of an insult and/or slam to same publishing venue. It happens so often that it's become a cliche by now, so just be forewarned, and keep the salt shaker handy. Just sayin'.
That notwithstanding, these criticisms are largely fair. Brick and mortar publishing has, for a long time, shifted the majority of what should have been a marketing department's responsibility onto the prospective author. They want multiple pages of marketing plans, they want "proof" that you will self-promote at all times, and they read all of this as a barometer of how "serious" you are about your publishing career. The fact that all this "stuff" tends to be outdated nonsense never enters their heads; it just becomes yet another hurdle an author is expected to get over in order to "prove" that he or she is worthy of publishing dollars invested in the work.
What about the work itself? Does spending years of solitary writing, subjecting oneself to criticisms and contests and critiques and workshops and classes and submissions and rejections not count as showing seriousness of purpose? Apparently not. Sizzle is the new steak in publishing...or at least the meat they figure they need to emphasize to survive.
What you put in doesn't matter, honey. What are you gonna do to get it out there?
So authors go figuratively nuts trying to keep up with all the "networking." And heaven forbid they let anyone pass by without subjecting him or her to an exposure to The Book, or The Books (in the case of multipubs) or The Reissues (in the case of really lucky people who are actually seeing backlists released again). By golly, if you get any message at all, it's gonna be that they're an author and they deserve to have your money spent on them!
Now, no one says you shouldn't care about selling books. (Well, some people do, but I don't believe that any more than I believe that professional jealousy never enters their heads, either.) Selling books enables your publisher to stay open. To stay publishing. And hopefully, selling books helps you keep body and soul together, indulge your penchant for Indoor Living, and all the rest.
Heck, I want to sell books like crazy. I want every single person in this country and around the world to get a copy of Voice of Innocence. I want to make a ton of money, and I want my publisher to make a ton of money from it. But that doesn't mean that all I want is for people to meet me and have the sudden urge to shell out $5.99 for my work, either.
Not if that's all they know of me.
If I become a supercilious moron in the process, I don't deserve to have them shell out those bucks.
Fact is, I'm way, way more than just an author of a romantic suspense book and an inspirational romance.
I'm an amateur foodie, a musician, a sports fanatic, an occasional gardener, a swimmer, and a cat lady...among other things.
But for a long time, I worried about trying to keep that stuff off my blog. I disciplined myself to keep it off. Which meant that for long periods of time, I didn't blog at all...because what I was thinking about at the time may not have been writing business, the whole writing business, and nothing but the writing business.
Sometimes, I just want to sit at a football game and eat hot dogs. :-)
That, in many circles, was a supreme no-no. It was pounded into many of us over time that personal stuff--what you're cooking for dinner, whom you're cheering in the bowl games, what your pets or kids or both are up to--has no place in a writing blog. It should be business. Period. If it ain't business, put it in a second blog that's about you as a person.
(Right. Like any working writer and normal person has time for two blogs?)
So a whole bunch of people did just that..and in the process...they've become snake oil.
And now, lo and behold, what comes along but readers who say, "I don't want to read endless sales pitches from you. I want to know you as a person. I want to like you. Then I'll be inclined to buy your stuff. But if all I ever hear about is your sales figures, or your latest promotional gimmick, or your latest splashy launch...I'm gonna lose interest in you."
In the effort to use networking to its maximum benefit, ironically enough, the pundits forgot one of the basic premises of good selling: that no one is going to care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Yep, it's a cliche.
But it's true.
And it's what's been forgotten in the networking/promotion frenzy. Everyone wants to promote her book. Everyone is desperate to sell that book, and any other peripherals she can come up with. And everyone's been told that you need at least seven encounters of any sales message before it "sinks in."
So that's what you get outta these people.
Only I never have been successful at making myself do that.
And recently I gave myself permission to once again go back to writing about things other than strictly The Writing Business.
Putting in thoughts, feelings, events...
...an occasional squawk...
...and pretty soon, I'm gonna get back to putting food in here, as I did a couple of years ago.
Because I'm made up of all that.
As an author and as a person.
It all goes into the pot.
It all contributes.
But most of all, it conveys who I am to my readers...and who I am will in the long run sell me more books, and get me more true reader friends, than tweeting about my Amazon sales.
Sharing my thoughts here has gone further with my potential readership than any other sales tool I could use, with the exception of pure advertising--which also has its place.
It just shouldn't be all I'm about.
I've been "erring" on the side of a blog about...everything...for a long time.
Seems that that "error" was, actually, doing it right.
It's nice to have landed on the right side of the debate for a change.
I'm looking forward to continuing to be a whole person here.
If you like that whole person, maybe you'll buy my books, too. I hope so.
If you consider this whole person a nattering imbecile, you won't buy the books.
But that's just as well...because you'd hate them anyway. And you'd write negative reviews...and...Well, let's just not go there.
Let's stay real.
I'm not gonna try to sell you my book at every turn.
If you like this place well enough, you'll find the links on the sidebar and investigate it for yourself. But even if you don't, I hope you enjoy these visits anyway. Because I plan to be real--foodie-isms, raving about sports, musical interludes, squawks, and all.
Oh, and yes...writing stuff, too. :-)
I hope this is a breath of fresh air for those of you weary of snake oil.