Friday, March 22, 2013

Self-Promotion and How-to Books

This is my share of a facebook discussion with Jeff VanderMeer on self-promotion and how-to writing books. I am omitting Jeff's share, because I don't have his permission. The discussion started with Jeff writing that advice on using blogs and social media for self promotion was out of date. I dislike self promotion, since it seems too damn close to bragging, and because it's hard to do well. So I wrote the following:
Nice to see my prejudices -- based on nothing in particular -- confirmed by someone who thinks about writing. I keep a blog, so people can find me on the Internet. There an email address on the blog, and a few times this has been useful. People did find me, and I was glad. I do facebook mostly because I enjoy it. But I don't expect to build an audience. There are not enough science fiction fans who love marmalade.

Decades ago the late Joel Rosenberg told me I wasn't going to enough cons. I needed to be out there building visibility and and an audience. I said, "But Joel, what if people don't like me?" I don't actually see myself as dislikable, but I am fairly introverted. I have watched introverts put themselves through hell, trying to be charming and lovable at cons. Why not do what you enjoy? You will be better at it.
Jeff has a book on writing coming out titled Wonderbook. It sounds amazing, due to remarkable images and layout. The discussion moved on this, and I wrote this:
I do read how-to writing books, even ones by Natalie Goldberg, because it's interesting to think about the process of writing and it's interesting to think about why people write. And because I keep thinking I need to reinvent myself as a writer. Start from the beginning and do it over. -- There is something really compelling to people about writing. Studs Terkel did a wonderful book titled Working, which is interviews with people about their work. He asked people what they would do, if they could do anything. The most common answers were, "I would do something that helped other people" and "I would write." I figure Patrick and I are pretty lucky. He spent most of his work life in human services, and I have written. I also did accounting. You'd be surprised how few people say, "If I could do anything, I would do accounting."


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