It is clear that an author’s life and work are related, but the relation is never simple: the life does not entirely explain the work, nor does the work explain the life. Octavio Paz
Today, I am wondering about the gap between me and my work. As I prepare to launch a new book, I am back in my most uncomfortable spot – promotion and marketing.
Now, I have never made money from writing. My goal is always to break even, cover whatever costs are involved in actually producing the book. (Obviously, this means the hundreds of hours spent actually creating the book are volunteer hours!)
When I published with a traditional publisher, I didn’t spend much, but I also didn’t make much. And in the case of my first book, the only royalties I received came after I had poked, cajoled, reminded, begged, and finally, threatened.
The first time I self published it cost too much and my generous patron never did break even. This time, I am trying to do it the cheapest way possible, on my own, and I am already down a couple thousand before the book is even ready.
Point being, this is too expensive to be a hobby so I need to sell some books. That means marketing, and the mere mention of the word makes my stomach clench.
I have watched a lot of writing webcasts and on-line lectures and workshops. What is available in this day and age is less about craft and more about how to sell your books.
If I was interested in sales, I would be in sales. If I was interested in marketing, I would be in marketing.
I am interested in writing. And it erodes my soul to spend the majority of my time trying to figure out how to navigate the various social media platforms that are “absolutely necessary” for selling books. (For those of you who are wondering, even if you publish with a traditional publisher, you are expected to do your own publicity and marketing. Many publishers require you to submit your “marketing plan” right alongside your manuscript!)
Worse yet, the marketing experts tell us that we need to sell ourselves in order to sell our work. And I think this is where I hit the wall.
I think the quote I began with is talking about a healthy gap between personal and professional worlds. As I write that, I think about my years as a teacher. When I began teaching, I was in the closet. There was no choice if I wanted to keep working in my field. Over time, I was able to shorten the gap between my personal and professional selves. In the final years of my teaching career, there was almost no gap at all and I cherished that integration. But in the classroom, the “consumers” are kids that I know, love, and trust. In my writing life, the consumers are strangers and as much as I would like to believe that I’m brave enough to share my heart with the world, I’m not.
So here I am, trying to “mind the gap” and still follow all the bazillion shoulds and shouldn’ts of marketing books. Of marketing myself.
Today, I’m wondering about this wall I’m staring at. It is a go a different way kinda wall? Or is it a challenges make us better kinda wall?
Won’t know for sure until I take a run at it.
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