Saturday, June 02, 2007

Anne Frasier's take on self-promotion gone mad

Ed here:I asked that most excellent crime novelist Anne Frasier if I could reprint her most excellent piece from Crimespace and she was nice enough to say yes. I'm reprinting it because I agree with it

Anne Frasier:

I’m worried. Really worried.

About how self promotion has become not only expected but required. The more the better. I recently heard a small-press publicist say their writers should invest more than their advance on promotion. Two years ago it was suggested that I start blogging, attend conferences, get involved in more online groups and online events, give talks at libraries, travel to small towns and speak, consider making a book trailer, have online contests, maybe a writing competition, join more organizations, enter my books in more contests, do a monthly newsletter, put together a mailing list, visit more bookstores. I’m sure I’ve left out a few things. The argument for all of this is that publishers have no idea if any of it helps, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Wrong.

The few who agree with me about the futility of self promotion usually say it takes away from a writer’s writing time.

That wasn't my problem.

It took away my leisure time. I’m exhausted, and I’m afraid it’s going to take me a very long time to recover.

It wouldn’t be so bad if my efforts had mattered, but we are all just kids at our individual Kool-Aid stands, holding up our signs, begging people to stop and buy. And on every corner is another Kool-Aid stand serving up another version of cherry-flavored anxiety.

Our family and neighbors shuffle over. But mainly we just stand around and drink our own stuff and go check out the other stands to see what flavors they’re selling that day. And while we stand there delivery trucks go by taking Kool-Aid to stores all over the country.

The national decline in reading isn’t our fault, and we can’t fix the problem by opening a Kool-Aid stand.

I’m giving myself permission to write. Just write. And maybe enjoy life a little bit while I’m at it.

6 comments:

Chap O'Keefe said...

It is exhausting. It does take time you might prefer to spend on writing or "other life". The only answer I've found is to try to have some fun while you do it and let the promotion range beyond self, which I suspect is a quick way to drive yourself to frustration, boredom and worse.

Bill Crider said...

I agree, too, Ed. And besides, I hate putting myself on display. I guess I'm never going to hit the bestseller list.

Dave Zeltserman said...

I guess this is all part of the byproduct of NY houses unwillingness to give writers time to develop and find their audiences. Makes you wonder if some of the greats from the 50s and 60s--writers like Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, Charles Williams, etc., would've bothered if they had to deal with today's climate.

Anonymous said...

Miss Frasier's viewpoint may yet yield her benefits. Readers still love a good book, and still find a good book by word of mouth or other means. Let her write magic, and let the sales take care of themselves.

I am simply too old and tired to huckster books. In whatever time is left me I hope to write a memorable novel or two, even if it is read only by a few people. That is the important thing, after all, for anyone who loves our unique craft and rich heritage.

Richard S. Wheeler

GB said...

I just read your "Montana Hitch." That was a memorable novel if I ever read one. I'm sure this hucksterism must be annoying to authors who would rather be writing and have the stingy publishing houses spend some money on promotion. However, I believe we readers gain a lot by being able to interact with you, something that wasn't that easy just a decade ago. For example, the fact that you posted a few things at the "2 Blowhards" site made me aware of you. I decided to check out your books and now I'm ready to read some more even though Westerns were never my top pick.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Another story, following on from what gb says. Just yesterday, the UK anthologist and bibliographer Mike Ashley, a veteran of his craft if there ever was one, emailed me:
"I didn't mention in my earlier e-mail but I had once tried to contact you something like 25 years or so ago, but in those pre-internet days it didn't prove easy and I hadn't realised you'd gone to New Zealand. Yesterday when I thought I ought to renew my search it took just 30 seconds to find the link to you. Now that's progress!"