How much is too much?

January 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm (Publishing) (, , )

I had an interesting discussion with two friends who are writers the other day, about how much marketing yourself and public speaking and attending events etc are expected these days from authors. It was a little disheartening to hear, in some cases, how important this is now to publishers, and how little your work itself weighs in if you aren’t deemed “marketable”… I’d like to think that’s not true, but we certainly are in rapidly changing times, and most courses I’ve done or articles I’ve read recommend being on Twitter and doing talks and being part of all kinds of social media marketing things that really are not my forte. I have so much admiration for writers who can do talks and workshops and such – but I (and many amazing writers I know) would much rather be able to write our books and let them speak for themselves – that’s why I’m a writer anyway, because I’m shy and would rather express myself through writing…

I’m also curious about how much it actually helps if you do bare your soul, Tweet all day, blog more regularly than me (ha ha), learn to speak in public and do it, network (I hate that word) etc… Does it translate to sales? Or do people just know your name but not read/buy your books/CDs/art etc? Can you be too available and have a negative impact on your book sales? I think (or would like to think) that maybe all the new styles of promotion are part of it, but are much less vital than is portrayed. Anne Tyler does very few interviews and has no blog or Twitter account, but sells millions of books (and inspires blogs – there’s a good one here). Debora Geary‘s wonderful A Modern Witch series is a massive success on Amazon, mostly thanks to word of mouth because they’re great books that people recommend to their friends. Writer Steven Lewis has lots of readers of his wonderful site and informative blog, but some people have had the nerve to complain if he puts a link to one of the books he has for sale – they want to take advantage of all his free content, but won’t buy his books. There are bands with tens of thousands of “friends” who can’t get anyone to a gig. A friend’s band has thousands of hits on YouTube, but has only sold a few copies of the record. So does social media and networking actually work?

There’s an interesting blog about it by writer Yvonne Coppard about the topic, and Harper Lee, here, and I’ve read a few others recently that I’ll try to find and add here… Update: One discussion was this one, which is an Amazon forum…

And now, back to my writing. Not much point with all the other stuff if it stops you from doing that! xx

Funny – when I hit “publish” on this, a quote by Anne Rice appeared on the side. (I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. — Anne Rice) I’d been thinking of her as I wrote this one – she’s always been one of my favourite authors, and has remained quite private – but didn’t include her as an example… But now I have…

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