Friday, September 25, 2009

No, you can't be JD Salinger because you're not JD Salinger

Word of the Day: cavort - 1. To bound or prance about. 2. To have lively or boisterous fun; to behave in a high-spirited, festive manner.

What a fun word for a Friday! I hope to be doing some cavorting myself. This morning I cavorted over to Rachelle Gardner's blog, where she was posing an interesting question about this Washington Post article: does self-promotion affect your desires to be published?

Well, no. I know the old methodology of writers was to slink around behind the scenes, creating the masterpieces, while the marketing machines of the publishers cranked out all the materials necessary to make their book a hit. I know many authors today still fantasize about this, claiming they are shy and not very good at talking about themselves. To which I politely cry "pants on fire!" 99% of people love to talk about themselves and their books, they just don't like to look like they like to talk about themselves and their books.

Most importantly, you need to look at your book like a business. If you owned a restaurant, would you not create a website, seek out local reviews, offer special deals to entice people into your joint, or shack up with some online groups like Groupon and local favorite Austin Tidbits? The answer to that is a resounding yes, I would do all of the above and more, because this is how I make my money and I'm going to do everything possible to make sure it's a success so I can pay my bills. A book is the exact same thing. If you were just doing this to entertain yourself you would never query. But you do, so clearly you want to make this thing your bread and butter. Which is great, but if you're not willing to do everything humanly possible to make it a success, what makes you think anyone else will?

Just because something is a creative endeavor doesn't mean you have to take it so personally. This is not your baby; or rather, this is your baby but you've entered her in a beauty contest for money. So your little Jon Benet (what, still too soon?) is out there working her moneymaker. Are you going to put her up on that stage in her footie pjs and rat's nest beehive? Uh, no. You're going to slap some bright red lipstick on, her, curl those baby fines and pack as many sequins into one tiny dress as possible. Same with your book. If you don't give people a reason to look, they won't. Act as shy as you like, but that won't put food on the table or paperbacks in people's hands.

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