"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Self Publicity - At What Cost?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Self Publicity - At What Cost?

It's one of the problems with writing: if you want people to buy your work, you need to let them know about it.

And you have to balance this issue with how marketing can seem a bit vulgar - even desperate - sometimes.

It's like the ads on TV.

We say we don't like them but we know that TV wouldn't exist without them.

Couldn't. Nor could magazines or newspapers - or, more especially these days, the Internet.

Sorry to burst your bubble on this but if you think the Net is in any way free, you're kidding yourself.

For a start, how much do you pay your service providers EVERY month?

And how exactly do you think Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have survived for so long?

It sure ain't charity, Bub, I can tell you that much.

I know.

We'd like to think, as writers, we can be quiet, reserved, indeed anonymous - and people will somehow hear about us and buy our books - by word of mouth perhaps - or by luck or by using other people's promotional skills.

Alas those days are over - if they ever existed in the first place!

There are no talent scouts anymore. Nobody is going to take you away from all this and make you rich.

There are no literary agents or managers who have your best interests at heart.

They're all in it for the money. And 15% of your gross income is, after expenses, often more than 50% of your net income. So yes, your big shot New York agent may actually make more cash than you on your bestseller.

Fact is, being a published author doesn't pay anymore.

The latest reports show that, of the hundreds of authors signed to publishers in the last five years, only a handful have made over fifty thousand dollars. Most, 99%, made less than ten.

It's brighter for those self published on Amazon. 3640 authors made over one hundred thousand dollars last year.

For the first time in history, self published authors are making more money than their traditionally published peers.

On one proviso: the self published author MUST self publicize.

Indeed, even the Big Five publishers are as concerned about marketing as they are with publishing nowadays.

These days the marketing department is always bigger than the acquisitions department.

Writers need to have the capacity and the willingness to go out there and promote their own work.

Literary success, to put it bluntly, is now a competition of sorts - you just can't hide your light under a bushel any more if you want to be taken seriously by the public - or the writing industry.

There's no shame in being in people's faces.

Think about it. Why is it okay for Coca Cola and Nike to get in your face and come across as big corporate bullies - but somehow it's unseemly for writers to be anything less than demure?

When it comes to myself and my Academy for instance, the way I see it is that I'm not really promoting me - just my writing - which is not really me, the person, but me, the writer - two close but not entirely the same individuals. Does that make sense?

I'm shy as a person, afraid of criticism and easily hurt... but when I put together sales pages, project proposals, or movie treatments or anything I use to 'sell' my writing - I know I can seem super confident to the point of being almost 'brash'.

But that's not really me - it just helps my career. A lot.

I try to teach this aspect of writing to others - because I know it can help new writers get around this problem of having to seem self confident, worldly and wise in the ever more competitive marketplace that writing has become - when all you really want to do is sit at home and write.

I think I show that this can work. You can be both creative and open.

Like all those (apparently) insecure Hollywood actors who look good in the media but secretly crave solitude - they only do all the media stuff because it's what enables them to do what they love.

Celebrity, notoriety, call it what you will, goes with the territory.

Even as a writer, you need to connect with the marketplace.


To ignore the need to publicize yourself is to cut off your nose to spite your face.

In order to gain success, you need to get yourself - or at least your writing - out there, or you simply won't be able to afford to keep doing it!

It'a very modern dilemma.

And one that will continue to plague authors as the Internet envelopes our lives - and makes us all accountable to ourselves.

If my writing career has taught me anything it's that you simply can't rely on anyone but yourself (and your loving partner) to get you to where you want to go.

Other people will always let you down - or rip you off. Probably both.

Anyway, again I apologize for my apparent brashness sometimes - I'm really only trying to set a good example for you, my friend.

Thanks for letting me speak to you.
The Easy Way to Write
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