What we learn from our mistakes
More and more, it is an author’s responsibility to deal with promotion, publicity, public engagement and networking. Which means lots of time spent on mailing lists, virtual surfing, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat…. these forums can become as familiar to us as our breakfast cereal, and we can have lots of fun with them.
But inside every author who networks is a creative who wants to write, freed from the distraction of an increasingly hectic schedule. So it is natural to hope that others will fill the gaps in practical experience that we try to cover. Despite now having most of the essential e-kit – a website, FB and twitter accounts, a presence on Goodreads…. – I am not a natural techie.
We thought that agents would find us speaking engagements, we thought that our publisher would set up book signings and tours and all the rest…..well, some do. But it is not like you see on tv, with the presenter’s agent finding you air time, interviews and radio slots, booking a suite at the Warminster five star hotel suite and inviting the press to chat. That is Hollywood, where the richest and best can pay for the publicity machine to follow them around.
Should we just give up, now, then? We finally found an agent, but s/he doesn’t do promotion, so we are going to forget it? We found a publisher but their resources are already at the full stretch and they are publishing new books all the time. After all, as an author, a wife and mother (and a disabled one, at that) living in Edinburgh, Scotland, it is challenging to suppose I can promote my book in the United States by making all the necessary arrangements and getting myself on the next flight into Newark, New Jersey.
I have a husband, a child, I have housework and writing to do, and I have a million things which take me away from publicity. From any rational point of view, the added expectation that I can and will be my own publicity machine is likely to kill my dreams stone dead. So, really, I should just forget it.
I read about other people going on glamorous photo-shoots, and getting signing tours, and all that jazz. But not me, so I best forget it. Right?
We don’t write or create because we expect to be famous one day. We write because we are basically obsessed with words, which keep us awake at night, force us to work at unsocial hours and put up with discomfort, the loss of family time and the very slim prospect of any financial reward.
If networking is what we have to do to help us flesh out our dreams into reality, eventually we learn that our efforts are good enough, while we hope for the best and a few miracles along the way. To encourage a process of growth and renewal, we stay awake to every possibility, while taking the time to enjoy each step of the journey.