The Agonies of Self-Promotion
There’s been a long gap between my last post and this. Plenty has happened; mostly in the area of a buzz about the book amongst friends who have been reading it on Kindles or, bless them, on their phones. I feel guilty for all the squinting.
I can also report that when I last looked, at least 550 people had downloaded the book. A little thrill when the stats show me that People I Don’t Know in India, Canada, Germany, France — as well as the UK and the US – are reading the book. In truth, the majority of those downloads have been on free promotion days via Kindle publishing. And… this may work for or against me… Amazon sees fit to file my book under ‘Horror’. Which it is not. I keep re-posting it under ‘Mysticism and visionary’, and ‘Supernatural and spiritual’ which are the closest available genre-tags.
I am unclear as to whether rubbing cyber-shoulders with the likes of ‘Teen Bloodsuckers Axe Revenge Massacre’ is working for or against me. Maybe some of the downloaders will be sorely disappointed? But Paulo Coelho and Hermann Hesse have also seemed to wander in there, flanking me on the Horror shelves. Amazon behaves like a very quixotic bookseller sometimes. But…. I have received my first royalties. (Thanks Mr. Amazon. Of course, I will be paying tax on that income. But I won’t bitch for too long about your accounting habits.)
I have been agonisingly hesitant to write the stuff the self-promotion gurus exhort me to post. It just isn’t me. I have tried to pull myself out of shape and get on with it. I have read lots of well-meaning stuff about self-published authors needing to create social media presence, blah-blah. And I have taken on board the fact that if I don’t self-promote, then there is the chance that the book will slide into oblivion. And I would then be like a bad parent who allowed her offspring to starve, neglected in the gutter. “If you don’t do it, nobody will” etc etc.
But it is such anathema to vaunt the book about. It seems somehow horribly brazen. That’s what agents are for. Try getting an agent? Alright alright. Next step. It took a gigantic effort of ‘getting over myself’ to set up this blog and write chirpy posts. That is what you have to do, apparently, before an agent will even look at you, you self-published pondlife .
To be truthful, having spent more than ten years writing the book, amidst all manner of tragedies and lots of major fun going on in life, it just seemed like such a huge relief. Like childbirth in many ways. Which makes you very, very tired just at the time when you are responsible for a new life. And now, dealing with the aftermath, I am supposed to carry on nurturing it? It seems savagely demanding. At least with childcare, there is a billiion years of evolution behind you to tell you how to do it. And yet…. how will the book thrive without my continued attention? Little book-baby, why can I not let you find your own path? Why is it not over?
I am encouraged by the gurus (those people not writing their own fiction, as that doesn’t pay, but writing how-to books for the struggling artist) to create a presence in the media. To post continually about book-related topics. More blah-blah. All good advice. So why am I paralysed at the thought? Maybe because natural modesty, or deep-seated English self-effacement genes prevent me from enthusing publicly over my own brainchild. Maybe because I feel that I have birthed the damn book, so it can get on and create its own momentum….shift for itself. Tough love.
I look around and see friends who are brilliant at self-promotion; their novel, their business, their websites, their band.
They do it themselves, or get people in to help them. They just get on with it, making it look easy. And I feel wrong and weedy for not getting down to it and finding it all a soul-sapping chore. I talk myself into a session with my laptop, designing a postcard handout to give to people I discuss it with, to leave in shops and cafes etc. A really good idea. But why am I soon crying with the tedium of it all?
Laziness – says my onboard Work Ethic.
I had already beaten myself up daily with this one in order to get the Manuscript Kindle-ready. And then I managed to put the thing out there in the world. And still it’s not enough for my Inner Critic. Now I am still lazy for not cheerfully throwing myself into the self-publicity maw. o for a techie friend who likes doing this. Anyone out there interested? I could do your horoscope in return…or write some music for you….draw your portrait? Anything but engage with “creating a social media presence”.