First up, I think over the past few weeks I have found myself being seduced by the lure of self-promotion. There is no doubting that it is a learned skill and, I have nothing but admiration for the people who have it honed down to an art form, but it’s not me. I carried on regardless, however, ignoring the niggling sensation that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t actually enjoying writing that much anymore, so consumed was I with reading other writer’s blogs and tips on how to get yourself out there and make it as an indie author.
There is an endless source of information and, I’m sure it’s mostly good, but all it was doing was making me feel dizzy and overwhelmed by the amount of effort required to successfully promote a book. It was then that I happened upon a post by Clive S. Johnson, and it was like taking a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t the only person feeling adrift, as my discomfort in this sea of me me me, nagged away at me. And so it seemed like the perfect time to re-evaluate what I was doing and what I actually wanted to achieve.
I have asserted many times that I write primarily for pleasure. If someone else gets enjoyment out of anything that I have written then that is a massive bonus. What had changed then? Why had writing started to feel like a chore? It seemed to me that the problem lay in the fact that I was becoming inordinately obsessed with the idea of getting people to download my books when, in reality, none of that matters. What matters is that I enjoy and gain a sense of fulfilment from what I do.
I’m not writing to change the world. I have nothing new to say or offer. My only aim is to try and entertain and provide readers with an escape from the daily grind of their lives. My novels sit alongside countless others, all with the same intention, and the
deciding factor of what makes one more successful than another is marketing. Unfortunately, it is an area in which I have no aptitude or interest, which is why I think that I probably need to get back to what started the whole thing and simply write.
I feel an immense sense of relief in giving up pretending to market myself because really pretending is all that I was doing. I have no technical ability whatsoever and the fact that I have no motivation to acquire any really says all that needs to be said. It takes me all my time to remember to include hash tags or to include the name of the person in the tweet when I want to ensure they see it. There are lots of experts in the field of marketing indie fiction and I have benefitted from much kindness and help from many of them, particularly via twitter. Their advice though is exhausting when I can barely manage my email account let alone facebook, goodreads and all the other sites whose names I have already lost track of. I did in fact create a facebook page but rather carelessly lost it and, when you throw into the mix that I have also forgotten my password, you’ll get some idea of how truly hopeless I am.
Conversely, a lot of good has come out of my shambolic efforts. Most notably, it has made me realise that the real motivation for me has to be the pleasure principle or I can’t see the point in any of it. I don’t care if my books make any money although, once you have gone to the trouble of putting them on Amazon or its equivalent, you can’t help but think it would be quite nice if someone actually read them. The truth is I would give them all away if those dreadful free promotions weren’t so bloody
Another positive offshoot is that it has introduced me to the world of twitter. I confess, I only came to the social networking site for mercenary reasons, when friends urged me to embrace it as a marketing tool. It quickly changed into something quite different, however, something I can’t quite believe because I would have declared under oath that it wouldn’t be my kind of thing. I actually only know two of the people on my list but I find myself genuinely caring about all of the people I follow. It feels a bit like being in a club, a really nice one, where everybody is different but essentially the same. It provides a little window into people’s lives and I feel privileged to be able to check in on them from time to time. I truly believe that twitter is a force for good; kindness and generosity have been my only experience of it.
This blog is another unanticipated source of pleasure. Again, I admit I instigated it for selfish reasons when I was advised that it was the thing to do for would-be writers. Like twitter, however, it soon became an entity in its own right and I find myself really caring about what I write. Part of this, I know, comes from my unusual schizophrenic work ethic. I don’t work all of the time but, when I do, I give it all that I’ve got. I hate the thought of someone taking the trouble to visit my site and feeling short changed. The reality is people may not even read what I’ve written, let alone derive anything from it, but nobody can say that the time and effort is not there, which is all that matters to me.
I did a free book promotion yesterday and it was horrible. I became a monster. I found myself ripping phones out of people’s hands in order to compose a self promoting tweet. It was like a form of madness that came over me and I couldn’t stop it. It provided my friends with much mirth and I was roundly ridiculed as I tried to convince them of the sheer effort it all takes. And funny as it seems, it really does. It felt as though it was sucking the very life out of me. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed to be relentlessly ramming my book down people’s throats and yet that’s essentially what I was doing, over and over again.
I was heading down a path that was never going to make me happy and so, I have decided to chill out, as the young people say. I am going to stop seeing myself as a would-be writer and go back to being a person who writes. Otherwise I think there is a strong chance I could find myself being banned from twitter for boring people senseless with my incessant tweets and my friends are going to stop inviting me to lunch.