Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Building the Brand

Responses to my post concerning why bloggers blogged were pretty varied: Many like Chris at The Kelworth Files , Mary at Mainewords and Trisha at WORD + STUFF mentioned the friendships and the sense of community and Michael at In Time said, “First, I've learned so much about writing. This community is so helpful and bloggers/friends go out of there way to help... [meeting] so many wonderful people who I really do consider friends." Liz Fichera said “Blogging for me is a release, of sorts. It's a way to connect with people in an otherwise very solitary profession. I do it because it's fun” And Ann Best said, “Blogging is what I had to do, said my publisher, because I could promote my book otherwise.”  Ladyfi does it for herself as she writes for a living. Talei at Musings of an Aspiring Scribe spoke about blogging helping her to develop her "writing voice- which is one of the key reasons I took it up." While Conchscooter blogs in order to show how time passes on Key West with wonderful pictures of the island. All valid reasons to blog, I think!! 

However, I am a realist, I think. And I think that we all have to face that our blogs, while being fun and a way to meet friends and being a way to practice our craft are also a way to reach out into the world. A way to promote ourselves even when we aren't really intending to-- in the same way we unintentionally tell future bosses (or voters!!!) something about ourselves when we post unfortunate photographs of ourselves on Facebook or Twitter (what were you thinking Rep Weiner!?!?!?!) After all, all someone has to do if they want to see what we're REALLY like when we're not presenting our best foot forward is to google your name and wa-la your name will pop up with more than one link. And hopefully those links will show you in the most positive light. If not, then perhaps it's the light you want to be seen in and not the light that will make future readers run the other direction! 
Orchids given to me from my daughter for Mother's Day last year brighten up my bookshelf
Ann Best (who I might add has just published her memoir In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets) is in the throes of finding out how to get her work OUT THERE. She is experiencing first hand how difficult it is to promote her book which is essentially promoting herself. You might look at her experience and write it off as being the experience of a writer who is published for the first time or who is published by a small publishing house or who's agent simply didn't get her the best deal except that... author after author speaks of the same quandary. A few weeks ago, on a local radio program, radio host David Sirota bemoaned the difficulty he was having promoting his new book. He was thanking someone who had allowed him on their show to promo his book and saying how hard it was to get the word out about a newly published book and how much he appreciated their allowing him to come on their show. That from a man who has his own radio show! 
Aubrey and girlfriend Nisa gave me this orchid for Easter- a house full of color!  
Then I read an article in the New York Times Book Review section where essayist Tony Perrottet takes all writers into his confidence, "As every author knows, writing a book is the easy part these days. It’s when the publication date looms that we have to roll up our sleeves and tackle the real literary labor: rabid self-promotion. For weeks beforehand, we are compelled to bombard every friend, relative and vague acquaintance with creative e-mails and Facebook alerts, polish up our Web sites with suspiciously youthful author photos, and, in an orgy of blogs, tweets and YouTube trailers, attempt to inform an already inundated world of our every reading, signing, review, interview and (well, one can dream!) TV ­appearance...whenever I have a new book about to come out, I have to shake the unpleasant sensation that there is something unseemly about my own clamor for attention. Peddling my work like a Viagra salesman still feels at odds with the high calling of literature." He goes on to show how writers in history have engaged in what he calls "literary whoring." 

I was surprised to find him mention Balzac. But apparently the great writer was quoted to have said For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed.” And then he quotes Stendahl who said in his autobiography “Memoirs of an Egotist,” “Great success is not possible without a certain degree of shamelessness, and even of out-and-out charlatanism.” Hmmm... well, okay, perhaps it's not just a modern problem but surely writers were rewarded more for their skill then they are today where a name gets them ahead of the game???? (How is it that Patricia Cornwell seems to have a book out every other day? The woman can't even seem to spell!) He goes on to tell this story as recounted "in “Lost Illusions,” Balzac observes that it was standard practice in Paris to bribe editors and critics with cash and lavish dinners to secure review space, while the city was plastered with loud posters advertising new releases." And then this! "In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, “Le Horla,” painted on its side."
Orchids from stepson Aubrey brighten up my kitchen window (also this spring

All right! I get it. Writers have had to promote themselves through pretty extreme measures for a long time already in order to sell books. And any illusions I have had that my book is going to leap into the hands of readers just because it is good is just naive. Because no matter how good it is it is still going to take a lot of promotion to get it into the hands of people so that they can find out it's good. SO the big question is: How do I promote my book? After all I don't even have a radio show from which to start? And I don't expect the New York Times Book Review Section is going to be asking me to write an essay on book publishing any time soon where I can add a blurb about my newly published book either. No, sadly, the only thing standing between me and the reading world at this moment is my blog. And for better or for worse, that is where it is all going to start or will start when I ready to start promoting it. The question is.... How is that gonna happen?????? 

Thus ends pt. 2... but stay tuned! More to come!!!

*Pictures taken and edited by me. Added to ease the message and add a moment of zen to your day! Hope you enjoy!  


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