Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Are we all sounding a bit hysterical?

This past weekend, I went back into the Type M for Murder archives. Let me tell you, it was dusty and dirty back there, but somebody had to do it. My quest was to try to get a feel for where we’ve been and how that all stacks up with where we are now.

I’d forgotten how many people have lent their thoughts and writing talent to this blog over the years. My count wasn’t exhaustive, but I came up over sixty writers and others who have either been an official part of the team or who have been guest bloggers. Often there were good things being said, interesting things. Sometimes, though, I got the feeling that we were beginning to run around, sounding suspiciously akin to Chicken Littles over some change or other in the publishing world. And yes, I do number myself among that slightly hysterical crew, much to my embarrassment.

The thing I noticed most was how intense we all are in trying to raise our profile, get to the next level, whatever you want to call it, in the publishing world. Then I began to question: is it really wise to go at it at all costs? One of the blog posting in particular, struck me as if the writer had no confidence in whether they were any good or not. The underlying message clearly came across as, “You have to believe me! I’m really, really good!! Go out and buy my books and see if I’m not correct!!!” (Those exclamation points are intentional.) In any event, methought the person did protest too much, and what came across was that this author didn’t really believe they had written anything worthwhile.

And there we come to the edge of the knifepoint: when does self-promotion become self-hysteria? When does a confident, “I think you would enjoy checking out what I’ve written,” become, “Look at me! Look at me! I’m an author and you should buy my book!”

Which brought me to the final conclusion: are we not seeing the forest for the trees? We are often so intent on promoting our books (heaven knows, it seems no one else is going to do it), that we’re losing all our perspective? When does self-promotion become off-putting? I asked myself how often I might have crossed that line.

So many crime novels are published each year that it’s downright intimidating just to have something out. Unless you’re a Big Name, or the Author Du Jour getting a major push, how do you even get your little voice noticed in the uproar of the marketplace? But let me ask all of you this: would you rather have sales at all costs, or sales because readers actually read and enjoyed your books because they’re good?

9 comments:

John R Corrigan said...

Rick, I enjoy your posts each week. This was another winner. Perspective is everything. I'm home with a sick child today. Writing is on the back burner. Writing is an outlet always, even if we are paid to do it.

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks. I appreciate the comment, John.

Donis Casey said...

This has been my question for the past couple of years. I love the writing and want to create the best piece of art I can. I enjoy parts of the PR but get bored and disgusted with it very quickly. Life is short and I have to determine why I really want to be in this line of work. Money? Creativity, Self-Expression, Art? Glory? For a higher purpose, I hope. But not entirely, I fear.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

With a new mystery novel coming out this month, I ask myself if I am doing enough to promote it.
Good chance I'll remain unknown, but after reading your blog, I don't feel terrible about it. I'll just keep on writing to the best of my ability.

Rick Blechta said...

Jacqueline and Donis, that may be the best way or least-stressful way of going about. Promotionally, you do what you can -- and you need to do it with dignity. How many of those near-hysterical authors have we met over the years? Some of us will make, some of us won't. All you can do is your best. At least if you do that, you can hold your head up.

Thanks for contributing, all of you. And may we all be pleasantly surprised by our sales!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Rick--basically, we can only get a person to read one of our books. Then we have created a fan. Or not. More promotion to that person is in vain. Our litte bookiepoo is on its own.

Diane said...

Balance, I believe that is what is required when getting the word out, in confidence in your writing skills, and in marketing. Not easy to achieve but, in my opinion, necessary.

Rick Blechta said...

Bookiepoo?

Charlotte Hinger said...

Yes, Rick, Bookiepoo. Sometimes that's what I have to call mine to keep everything in perspective, with only a trace of bitterness--to remind myself that the publication of my book is not the most important event in the universe.