Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Labor of Hate That Makes Me Want to Vomit

I hate self-promotion! I hate it with the passion that Casanova loved women; hate it with the fury of a rabid wolverine. I hate it like Cylons hate Humans, like Red Sox fans hate the Yankees, like reptiles hate winter, et cetera; et cetera; in a freaking cashmere sweater.
I consider self-promotion to be a necessary evil within the all-access paradigm of today’s creative arts world; I consider it to be a labor of hate. That’s right, labor of hate. I know the popular expression is labor of love, but I reserve that phrase for such noble pursuits as raising children, or actually writing stories and novels for writing’s sake. No, self-promotion is something that I have to do, sort of like men of a certain age have to get rectal exams. In both endeavors, one must spread ‘em and hope for the best.
Why do I hate self-promotion so much? The biggest reason is that time spent self-promoting and thinking of effective ways to self-promote keeps me away from the creative endeavor that I enjoy so much: writing stories. Man, I wish the publishing industry still operated like it did when writers I admire (like Stephen King and Walter Dean Myers) made their bones. Back then (so I hear, anyway), writers just kept sending out query letters and manuscripts until they found agents/publishing houses who thought their stuff was good enough to publish. Nowadays, it’s not just a question of whether a writer’s stuff is any good, but whether it is damn near guaranteed to sell. That’s what agents and houses seem to want- guaranteed sales. They want writers to have a freaking “platform” (a platform- what is this- a construction site?), before they invest any time and money into publishing the writer’s work. Even after a writer builds that “platform”, he or she is expected to do much of the promotional legwork. Oh, well. No use crying over milk I never tasted.
I want to eventually earn a living solely as a writer, so I’m out here- in the real and virtual world, hustling my wares, as it were. I blog; I do social media; I get book trailers made, and all that other self-promotional type of crap (By the way, I can’t think of a more ridiculous concept than a book trailer. I mean- you’re not going to watch the book- are you? Why not just read a few pages of the book to see if the story grabs you? Is that too 20th Century? Anyway, if that sort of thing floats your boat- check out the book trailer for my novel, Dirty Hands. I’d rather you just buy the book, though.). I just want everyone who reads this post to know that I really dislike doing it. Hell, my goal as a writer is to reach that status where my name sustains itself. I want people to know I have a new book or e-book out and buy it just because they’re accustomed to loving my work. I tell you, people, if I ever reach that status, I will gladly become a literary recluse. J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee had the right idea, in my humble opinion, folks. The only aspect of their reclusiveness that I reject is that they both stopped writing (or at least publishing new work). I don’t think I could ever stop writing, but I would have no problem in ceasing to intentionally draw attention to myself.

I hardly think I’m alone among my chosen creative populace in my distaste for self-promotion. Whether they profess it in a blog post or not- many authors are introspective, introverted, and just plain uninterested in discussing themselves. I mean, you have to pretty much be by yourself to write well, people. I don’t know too many extroverted people who enjoy isolating themselves in pursuit of a task.  In my opinion, an extroverted writer is just like overkill from God. The existence of such a person is completely unfair to others in the same field, like how Lebron James is the fastest, strongest, highest jumper, and best passer on a basketball court. I think that if you’re a great speaker, you should become a motivational speaker and leave the rubble of the publishing industry to us those of us who best express ourselves in writing. Oh, I forgot, a motivational speaker (or a reality T.V. star, or an athlete, or a guy who cut his own arm off to escape from being trapped by a builder) is more likely to get tapped for a big publishing deal than an aspiring author without a proven “platform.” But I digress. In conclusion (and reiteration), the ongoing process of self-promotion sickens me and I’m only doing it in hopes of reaching a level of literary notoriety that would preclude me from having to toot my own horn. If that ever happens, look out, folks!
I mean that, literally. You’ll have to look out for me. You’ll have to look really hard, because I intend to be 20,000 Leagues under the radar. (Get it? That’s a literary allusion, people.)

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