about writing and life and God

Compare and compute

on August 22, 2012

Actually I mean compare and compete. That’s what all this social media networking seems to be about. And I’ve got hooked in so I check my stats and my followers and make sure I comment on other people’s blogs and tweet frequently and retweet and…

I know. Authors have to do much of their own marketing these days, whether they’ve self-published or not. Just writing the book is no longer enough. You don’t deliver it like a baby for someone else to bring up. You have to pitch in and keep it alive.

This demands a change in the authorial mind-set. And it isn’t easy. Those of us over a certain age who began our writing/publishing careers with companies which had marketing departments and a fleet of sales reps thought our job was the writing bit, being co-operative and friendly authors who didn’t moan about the covers or groan about the blurbs, but did what we were told, turned the queries and the proofs round within the time allocated and expressed our gratitude in winsome acknowledgements.

No longer. We need to build our platform before we deliver the book and then make sure we keep our brand nicely polished and our name in the public gaze so our books will sell themselves off the Amazon warehouse shelves or fly through the ether to our readers’ Kindles. And somehow we’re supposed to write the next book and deliver it by the agreed deadline.

Yes, you detect a degree of tetch. Even a degree of weariness with this not-so-merry-go-round.

Many authors are introverts, like me. Puffing our own stuff, strutting our stuff – whether face to face or over the internet – is foreign to us, uncomfortable. But all the newbies are doing it. It is blatantly obvious these days that you don’t have to be a decent writer (or even write grammatical English) so long as you self-publish/Kindle-publish and know how to work the social media networks to get the stats right and the punters purchasing.

There’s an old saying: ‘Jack of all trades but master of none.’ When does self-publishing and self-marketing become a kind of publishing Jack-of-all-trades and the mastery of the written word is lost in in the process?



One response to “Compare and compute

  1. Pat says:

    Got to get with the programme, I’m afraid. The one goes with t’other these days.
    And once upon a time, everyone all wrote longhand, with a quill pen in the beginning, then on a typewriter and now with the jolly old computer, and even that’s often a laptop now.
    Writers coped with that transition. I’m sure they’re up for the next one.

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