Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How I feel about publicity

I have another nice Amazon Review titled High Wire Storytelling. You know, I'm amazed I'm telling you that, and how much my attitude to publicity has changed since Balancing was published. See, I was brought up NEVER to blow my own trumpet, and when I became adult, on an intellectual level I always agreed with the idea. It was always clear to me that those who did blow their own trumpets did pretty OK in this world - it's amazing how people believe what boasters and the self-satisfied say about themselves (which has been a great source of comedy for radio plays for me!), but even when I felt proud of myself, I reckoned the true litmus test was other people, their judgment of my behaviour or, more specifically with regard to writing, my work. And how could I know what that judgment truly was if I'd gone and influenced it?

When I wrote for radio this worked beautifully. I wrote the plays and then sat back as a national broadcasting company, the BBC, deployed a host of personnel to create advance publicity, and broadcast the plays to millions as a matter of easy course. It was in writing novels published by independent presses that I could see the flaws in my approach - most especially when the publisher of my second novel was bought up halfway through the production process, putting paid to most publicity possibilities for my novel. What I learnt then is that NO ONE CAN JUDGE YOUR WORK IF THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT, and what I have learnt since is that small publishers with tiny resources need authors to help with that job of putting the knowledge out there, and indeed with marketing, which means telling people why they might like your book, which in turn involves telling them about the nice things others have said...

It's not me, after all, it's my book. (Though even boasting about my own children seems too much like boasting about myself to me!)


Group 8 said...

I am with you on this on both counts ELizabeth.
1) I find 'boasting' difficult.
2) But I need to promote my work.
I've often felt the boasting issue was becasue it is very un-Irish and very un-Catholic to be proud of your achievements. Praise was seen as wrong and 'self praise is no praise' was a regualr childhood chant.
BUT, like you, I've realised I have to get my work and myself out there in order to get anywhere in this writing world. Hence my blog and my website. Both things I resisted doing for years. Now I really enjoy them!
One needs to strike a balance - I don't want to annoy people by going on about my work or achievements but I want my books to sell and most importantly, to be read.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Absolutely, Nuala!

Anna May said...

Hello Elizabeth, your thoughts on publicity are very interesting. I am a writer and a teller and a sharer and have come to realise that if I don't promote my work it won't get read. I blog, and talk about my work a lot on radio to stimulate interest in it. Silence gets me nowhere, especially in the amazon sales rankings !
Talking about my work doesn't mean I am immodest - I know very well that there are many, many better writers than me - but I have to do my bit to support the editors who have commissioned me and to attract readers.
Also, I was FIFTY when I got published so I am amazed and excited to have the opportunity to promote my work - which I thought for a long time would never come!
And finally, as writers if we don't believe - why should readers ?
Anna May Mangan

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thanks for this, Anna May, and all the very best with promoting your work!