As a book writer, I understand the need for marketing. And I embrace it. But I fear becoming one of those people on social-media sites and elsewhere who overdo the self-promotion part a bit. We’ve all seen the type: twenty tweets and ten Facebook posts a day, every day, all shouting, “CHECK OUT MY LATEST – FIVE STARS! MY BEST YET!” Oh sure, there’s occasionally some pretense of foreplay: “Hi, how are you, dear friends? Listen, um ... CHECK OUT MY LATEST – FIVE STARS! MY BEST YET! (It was good for you too, right?)” By the way, that’s only 126 characters – in case anyone is casting about for their next tweet.
It’s so easy to lapse – which can be embarrassing on the Internet, but utterly disastrous in the real world. By “real world,” I mean the world outside of Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and other Internet sites. It starts when a writer turns a party or cocktail hour into a series of one-on-one sales pitches. And it soon progresses to evaluating social events solely for their publicity potential. By the way, did you know that anyone – even strangers – may get up and say a few words at a funeral? And what kinder way to help a grief-stricken captive audience than to distract them by ... oh, I don’t know, suggesting a good book?
Dear lord, I need help.
Just the other day, I received a request from a friend’s unsuspecting wife. Her husband was turning 40, and feeling a little down. She thought some letters and e-mails from his buddies and coworkers might bolster him – nothing fancy, just a few cheery and supportive birthday wishes. What a good wife, I thought. And then it occurred to me that she would probably read these aloud to the assembled family and other guests – maybe dozens of them. Well, of course I complied with her request: after all, her husband is a friend. And I thought my e-mail was perfectly appropriate. But my wife was mortified. I don’t know why. Here’s the actual e-mail (with my friend’s name redacted):
My friend and my friend’s wife, and my wife and her friends ... and their friends too haven’t spoken to me since I sent the e-mail. I know, I know. They’re probably right to be upset. I have a problem. But I’m trying to fix it – and to help other writers learn from my mistakes.
So please, don’t be THAT writer. By “THAT writer,” I mean me. And by “me,” I mean Tim Stutler, author of Hillari’s Head – coming to Amazon.com August 1st. Oh sweet Festus, I did it again. I do apologize. I'm so ashamed. I’d better just stop now.
I have some eulogies to write anyway.
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An excerpt of this article was published as a guest post on Venture Galleries Blog 5/19/13.
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