Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Pet Peeve About Struggling Desperate Authors

I just saw this Tweet on Twitter.  In honor of International Women's Day, a man is going to give a copy of his book to a lucky female IF she Retweets his Tweet about his book.  As far as I can see, the book has nothing to do with women.  It's about the 1982 World Cup Team.  The players on the cover illustration all seem to be men.

I am a writer.

I write this blog...and others.

I have written novels.

I've written screenplays.

I totally understand the huge desire to have people read your work. There's the hope of making money. There's the need for people to be interested in what you say. There's the feeling that every time your fiction is read, your characters come alive again.

It bothers me, though, when unsuccessful writers try to manipulate people into believing they're doing readers a favor by giving them a book for free.

Uh...no. 

There are a zillion things we could do with our free time instead of reading a book. We could sleep. We could exercise. We could watch Netflix. We could watch Hulu. We could go bird-watching. We could bake cupcakes. We could see what's happening on Twitter and Instagram. We could text our best friend. We could call our grandmother. We could write our own novel. We could go to the doctor and finally get that mole checked out. We could rearrange our stuffed animals on the bed. We could play fetch with our dog. We could go out and get ice-cream. We could paint our toenails.

The world is full of things to keep us busy.

But let's say we do want to read a book.

Well, there are SO many to choose from.

There are hundreds of years worth of classics to choose from.

There are current bestsellers.

There are less popular books that are still wonderful.

And there are a great number of super unpopular books that hardly anyone has ever heard of before.  Many of these would make for a great reading experience. 

If someone has written one of these super unpopular books, it is totally cool to give the book away for free.  I did it with my book.  But let's be honest about the situation.  It's not about being generous. It's about being desperate for readers.

Whether an artist is popular or not, they should understand the importance of, and appreciate, the consumers of their work.  Stephen King might not get excited each time he sees that someone has bought his book.  I would expect him to take all that for granted by now.  But I would hope in a general sense, he appreciates his readers.  When you're at my level of success, or the author of the World Cup book's level....

Well, I should speak only for myself.

I feel like each reader is a kind of miracle. 

Hardly anyone comes to my blog, and those that do usually leave as quick as they came. So when I can see, from Statcounter, that someone has stuck around for awhile it feels really good. I'm grateful.

I can't see who's buying my novels, because we're having issues with our Amazon account (annoying, long story). But back when I was able to see my books being purchased, it was a wonderful, rare treat. 

I'm glad to be humble over this. That being said, my humility has done me no favors in terms of selling my work. 

I'm horrible at self-promotion. But I can't be good at it because I cringe when other people use self-promotion.  How can I inflict on others what I can't stand seeing myself? 

Does it matter that I'm bad at it?  If I was good at it, would I be successful and wealthy?

Do people who self-promote on Twitter end up getting readers and viewers that way?  I personally don't think so, but who knows....

I rarely seek out material I've learned about via self-promotion, and if I do seek it out, it's usually out of sympathy. Or there's the idea that if I help them out by showing interest, karma will reward me. 

I know some independent writers end up finding great success.  But I doubt it's about self-promotion.

I think, first of all, it's about having a brilliant product. But there are probably MANY writers with brilliant works that are being ignored. So I think it's also about luck.  It's about the universe matching you with an enthusiastic reader who has the power and influence to convince many other people to read your work. 

My feeling is, people should cut down on the self-promotion and instead use their energy to write more, AND consume the work of other writers.  The more we read, watch TV shows and movies, go to the theater, listen to songs, etc. the more we are giving to writers who are wanting the same thing we all want—to be heard.