As an indie author, the harsh reality that presents itself very quickly is that writing a book doesn’t mean shit. You have to market – and if you market, and you have a quality product, and you are lucky, then maybe you will sell some copies and enjoy some degree of marginal success.
The origins of this blog were a not so subtle attempt to market and/or shill my book. I also liked the idea of having a place to continue writing about self-esteem and to preserve small thoughts that I liked, but ultimately didn’t make the cut during editing.
This presents something of a moral/ethical/philosophical dilemma for me since I chose to write a book that is, in many ways, very anti-self-worship. I wrote a book about how we all should stop frantically seeking out validation and expecting people to buy into the idea of how special we are. And now I have to market the damn thing by seizing any opportunity to blow my own proverbial horn. From the highest point I can reach, I scream my own praises and anyone who shows a shred of interest gets thoroughly badgered with my thoughts and opinions. I pretty consistently do the very things I take a stand against in my book in hopes that people will notice and my message will be heard.
Marketing makes me feel like a very hypocritical snowflake.
Making what marginal effort I have to market my book has changed me, and probably for the worse. Like a diligent scientist in some B-movie I sit and watch the changes take hold, scribbling notes on scraps of paper here and there. I now kind of like the validation that accompanies a lot of people seeing my Facebook posts and liking/sharing/commenting. I had never even seen the Twitter website prior to publishing, but find myself getting excited when I have new followers.
WordPress allows me to track my blog traffic, which I sometimes impulsively check after publishing a post I think is particularly good. Even Amazon allows me to monitor my author and sales ranks in real fucking time. At any time, day or night, I can log in and (potentially) be validated by a spike in my rank or sales.
I always did like using Instagram, so I’m not overly apologetic about that one…
I feel myself being pulled further into the Skinner Box with every click, every like, every share. I can hear my ego purring with the sleepy satisfaction that accompanies a meal that exists somewhere between decadence and blasphemy. For a little bit, it was like a slot machine – I kept pulling the lever while getting just enough reinforcement to keep me playing. What I have ultimately ended up doing is consciously curbing my impulsiveness about checking things, which has gone a long way to help me extinguish my neurotic micromanagement of my sales, rank, online presence, etc.
I don’t always feel like an insufferable douche bag because of my marketing – I know that part of my job is to promote a product that I am proud of. I cling to the idea that the existence of my book makes me less snowflakey than I feel, which is usually enough to talk me down from the ledge. Like any job, there are times that I genuinely dislike it, but I will continue to walk the precariously thin line that divides self-indulgence and my obligation to myself to appropriately market my work.