I actually overheard a conversation earlier where someone was saying that writers are terribly self-absorbed. I really thought about this. Then I visited the websites of numerous writer friends. Then I went back to the person who made this comment and asked how many writers he knew in person because I was curious how he came to the conclusion that writers are all absolutely stuck on themselves.
“Well, all they ever do is talk about themselves and what they’re doing,” he told me.
So I asked, “Where are they talking about themselves?”
He shrugged and said, “Facebook, blogs and twitters. All over the web.”
Ah! The self-promotion conundrum! So I asked him, “Well, what do you talk about on your facebook?”
He looked at me with a blank stare.
“What you’re doing?”
“And do you keep a blog or website?”
“Why would I? I’m not self-absorbed,” he actually said.
“So you think writers shouldn’t self promote their work or keep their fans abreast of what they’re doing?”
“They think they have all these fans…” he started.
“Well do they have fans? I bet Stephen King thinks he has fans. I bet Nora Roberts thinks she has fans, too. Especially since they sell millions of copies of their work. So is it really hard to believe other writers who are less popular still have fans?”
“I guess so,” he admitted.
“So just because someone has fans and has some books that are popular and has to self-promote by virtue of their career, does that really mean they’re a megalomaniacal asshole?” I asked. “Or does it just mean that in order to get a career and keep it a writer has to self-promote?”
“But they’re just so arrogant in the way they do it!” he said.
“Like how?” I asked.
“Like they’re always talking about great reviews they got or how their book is loved or whatever.”
“Well would you want to read books by someone who was always crying about their personal problems all over the web?” I asked, then added, “Writer’s want to be positive in what they post and what they’re doing. Personal life is personal. Career is business. Positive, upbeat notes sell books and keep fans up to date on what’s happening. Negative, downbeat notes make most people want to run in the opposite direction. It’s bad for business when what you’re selling is a product because that’s what a book and author name is. A product.”
He just looked at me dumbfounded.
“You know I’m a writer, right?”
“No sir.” He laughed.
“Yep. Over 16 books and counting and four pseudonyms,” I told him.
“How come you never said anything?” He asked. “Because you’re not like that at all.”
I grinned. “I’m saving my self-absorbed megalomania for the interwebs.”