It starts a solitary act. You sit alone in a room quietly typing away, but the words on the page are a conversation you’re having with the reader.
A lot of us become writers because we find that it’s how we communicate best. We’re better at sharing our ideas in the written form. A lot of that is a result of (or maybe the cause of) our shyness.
And that’s a problem, because being successful as an author requires aggressive self-promotion. Some folks aren’t comfortable with that. I haven’t always been. I was like many authors who would prefer to finish their book and lot others worry about promotion and publicity. But the fact is, unless your name is Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, publishers aren’t going to do any of that for you. Books don’t sell because they’re well written. They sell because the author promotes them.
Cartoonist Hugh MacLeod hit on that point the other day at his blog. He’s probably best known for his known for his ideas about how “Web 2.0” affects advertising and marketing. Here’s what Hugh wrote:
It always struck me as funny how people want to be artists, yet they don’t want to be marketers. To me that’s like wanting to be a pro football player, yet not wanting to keep in shape. Nice work if you can get it.
If you’re not comfortable pitching your book, doing radio shows and book signings and interviews and all of that stuff, then this isn’t the racket for you. If you’re not prepared to hear some readers say you’re an idiot and your book stinks and you’re funny looking, then you’re only interested in having a monologue. If you’re a writer, you eventually have to take the conversation out of that quiet room and directly to the readers.