Yesterday I was reading a short, fairly innocuous article about self-publishing on a random business website. It was basic stuff, nothing groundbreaking and I skimmed mostly. But when I got to the comments at the end, I noticed that the first one was yet another sneaky little dig at self-publishers.
Here’s the comment.
‘Love the fact that self-publishers ALWAYS address things like marketing and sales, but NEVER talk about their lifelong efforts to hone the craft of writing (because the vast majority aren’t career, professional writers.) Probably why 99.9% of self-published works are (charitably speaking) mediocre.’
So in other words my fellow independent authors, if you’ve ever considered marketing your work in order to boost sales, don’t you dare think of yourself as an artist/author/creative type. You’re a marketer who writes books! Go spit on yourself now. Take off your turtleneck sweater, your Che Guevara beret and go put on a suit or something square like that.
And give yourself a slap on the wrist while you’re at it. Damn you!
Now I know that most mature, independent authors are supposed to do nothing more than roll our eyes when we read comments like these. We’re supposed to just get on with the work and prove the naysayers wrong by our actions and the quality of our work.
And that is the right thing to do.
But for some reason, I couldn’t let this one go. Of course I replied, politely informing her that she was mistaken. It wasn’t so much that she was having a dig at self-publishing that bothered me. It’s the fact that she was saying in a roundabout way that being an author and an entrepreneur is somehow incompatible.
That’s the term that kept popping into my head regarding this sort of perspective. I have no idea why this person thinks that artists or creative types can’t also focus on promoting and selling their work. They’ve been doing it for donkeys years! In the early 1960s, The Beatles took off their leather jackets and dressed up in suits. Why? Because they were selling themselves. They wanted to succeed in the music industry and they knew they had a better chance of doing that by changing things up. Later on, they could do whatever they wanted but in the beginning they had to think about their image and not only their image, but the product itself. Which songs work best as a potential break out hit? That type of thing.
The Beatles, advised by their manager Brian Epstein, did this willingly. This is marketing and promotion – or am I mistaken? No one held a gun to their heads or questioned their purity as artists.
I could sit here all day and write about similar artists (and great ones too) throughout history who had to consider how to market themselves. It’s not a new thing by any means. Indie authors discuss this subject a lot because – thanks to constant technological advancement – it’s important to keep up with the latest and most effective means of getting yourself out there. Right? If you don’t then you run the risk of being left behind and if you’re an author who wants to be read then that’s not a good thing. Or are we to be looked down upon for wanting to be read?
Readers won’t automatically flock towards us. We have to find them.
Sure there are bad indie authors out there who don’t give a shit about craft. But that’s not all of us. In fact, from my experience of the indie author community, it’s a tiny percentage but it’s the bad ones the knuckle draggers like to highlight over the skilled writers. Most indies that I know care a great deal about the quality of their writing but hopefully not to the point of being pretentious assholes who spend ten years rewriting a sentence over and over again.
The person who commented on the aforementioned article was wrong. They ALWAYS address things like marketing and sales’. I don’t but I certainly give it the time it deserves. And unless I’m very much mistaken, these days the majority of traditionally published authors also have to consider marketing. Seeing as how we’re living in the digital age and all. It’s just part of the game.
She was also generalising with her use of the term ‘ALWAYS’ – (in caps too, give me a break). She was throwing us ALL into the same basket as if to talk about ONE indie author was to talk about EVERY indie author.
Generalisation is lazy thinking.
Yes, we care about marketing. But none of that stops us from working on our craft and becoming better writers. Does it? Self-publishers and traditionally published authors who focus on their marketing strategies are not turning their back on the craft of good writing. We’re just moving with the times, wearing more than one hat, and no matter what the knuckle draggers say, that’s what we’re going to keep on doing.