Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Self Promotion versus Self Objectification

On one side you have MJ Rose, J.A Konrath, Barry Eisler, and a slew of other writers who try to hammer home the point that authors have to beat the ground in order to sell their books. They must literally promote themselves, the sentiment being that publishers either can't or won't do as much for you as needs to be done, and a smart author will pick up the slack and then some.

Their mantra is Evanovich...Patterson....

On the other you have Steve Almond, Chuck Klosterman and Neal Pollack, whose writings tend to focus on the intensely personal, or as some call it the "Too Much Information" complex whereby an author spills his or her guts about anything and everything assuming the majority of literates want to know what color their infant daughter's spit up is. They self promote mainly through their writing, the hope being that the more the reader feels they know the person, the more they'll want to read their work.

Their mantra is Sedaris...Burroughs...

Both camps have their supporters and detractors. Some feel self-promotion denigrates the very notion of being an author, that art and commerce should only be connected by one's publisher (if even that). Many feel self objectification is unabashedly shameless and conceitied, that only the most self absorbed writers would think their daily dietary habits are desired reading fodder for the masses.

Unless they have a blog or pen a memoir, novelists tend to fall into the first camp. I'm wondering what the public's general feeling is about the acts of self-promotion and self-objectification. Do people prefer one over the other? Feel there is rhyme and reason for both?


Blogger Keith Snyder said...

And then there are those who think blogs are for whatever we feel like saying at the moment, for whoever feels like reading it, and don't care whether they're useful promotional tools or not.

I compete with myself to top whatever I did last, and that's hard enough. I don't care whose blog gets the most hits.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Spy Scribbler said...

Well, I'm not sure it's always a matter of thinking TMI is interesting to everyone else. Sometimes it's just a matter of "this is my diary, and I'll say what I want."

I feel there's a rhyme or reason to both, but I'm more a fan of the content blogs. I definitely allow them up to 40% self-indulgence, LOL. It's their blog!

3:54 PM  
Blogger MJRose said...

I'm not quite sure I agree that there are only two camps.

And I totally don't think that every writer should be self promoting. In fact I don't think we should be "self-promoting" at all.

It's such a negative term and implies self-agrandizing and bragging, talking about ourselves and our books all the time all over the place.

What I think is that an author should form a partnership with her publisher and learn how far the publisher is going to go in marketing the book and then adding to that marketing plan in totally professional ways.

I don't think most of us can even be good at self promoting. And that we can do our books an injustice by doing the wrong kind of promotion.

Like anything else, this is a really complicated issue, made all the more complicated becuase media is in a state of flux, and book sales are static and authors are not all treated equally or even all told the truth about how their houses are giong to work with them and their books.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Celeste said...

You know, it's interesting. I started blogging anonymously, just for something to do between research, revisions and the actual creative process that I originally thought writing was. I did it because ironically, I missed writing, but I wasn't ready to take the plunge into being google-able.

Of course I AM google-able (and an incredible dork). And I'd much rather my writing pop up than the things that do.

I guess I do think there is something positive to be said for having an internet presence that accurately reflects who you are and what your product is/does - and one really shouldn't be shy about doing that. But I do hope that I never get so wound up about blog hits that I stop thinking about my best marketing tactic ever - to write another great book QUICK!

9:50 PM  

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