Yes, after much introspection, soul-searching, and a brief argument with a Magic 8-ball, I have come to a painfully obvious conclusion:
I suck as an author.
Oh, not as a writer. As a writer, I consider myself to be fairly decent, if a bit slow. I’m no Hemingway or Tolkien, of course, but my Jaben’s Rift trilogy generally gets good reviews (even from readers who don’t know me). I’ve gotten compliments on my descriptions, my dialogue, story line, etc. So, while there’s always something that can be improved upon, I figure I must be doing something right somewhere.
But as an author?
Not so much.
Because, in this day and age of publishing, being an author is so much more than just sitting down and writing a good story (if you’re going the self-publishing route, throw editing and artwork into the mix too). After the book is ready to be set free into the world—actually, even before the book is finished—today’s authors must put on a multitude of other hats. Once the writing is done, the real work begins. The author has to take off the writer’s hat and put on the marketer’s hat, the promoter’s hat, the press agent’s hate, the salesmanship hat. That goes for the traditionally published authors too. Unless your publisher thinks you’re the next Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or someone along those lines, a large part of the marketing and promotion is going to be on your shoulders.
Bottom line: Once the writing is done, authors have to start doing everything an introvert like me hates doing: putting ourselves out in front of the world.
Just so you know, I’m not good an initiating first contact. If we were in the same room together, I probably wouldn’t talk to you unless you spoke to me first. Not because I don’t want to talk to you, but because, in my head, I’m never sure that anyone wants to talk to me, and I don’t want to feel like I’m pushing myself on someone. Unfortunately, that’s a large part of what marketing and promotion seems to be these days. Thousands of authors and promoters on their virtual dust specks shouting “We are here! We are here!” trying to catch the reading Horton’s attention. Oh, the best marketers/authors don’t push themselves on others, of course. They masterfully weave words and descriptions to make others come to them. But they seem to be in the minority.
I see so much of this on the social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a dozen others. I do “tweet” about my books occasionally, but not too often (again, not wanting to push myself on my followers), and, as much as my limited budget will allow, I’ve done Amazon Ads and considered Facebook ads and other venues. But every time I look at those ads, tweets, and statuses streaming along my timelines, the only image that comes to mind is someone throwing a snowball into an avalanche, and hoping someone else picks out their snowball before it gets buried under all the other snowballs. So, although I try to put the word out as best I can without feeling uncomfortable about it, I can’t help but wonder if I’m wasting my time. But that’s part of the job, getting the word out, so I guess I’ll keep tossing those snowballs.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of the Jaben’s Rift trilogy. It may not be the next Chronicles of Narnia, or make some existential commentary on the human condition, but it’s a good fantasy for when you simply want to get away from the real world.
I’m just not sure if anyone, other than a few intrepid readers—and those who picked it up when I ran promotions and giveaways—is ever really going to see it.
So, yeah, I’m a decent writer.
But author? As an introvert who doesn’t want to feel like I’m pushing myself on others, I’ve clearly got my work cut out for me.
I suppose time will tell.
Incidentally, if you’re looking for an excellent book on how to use today’s social media the right way, I can’t recommend enough Kristen Lamb’s outstanding book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World. Pick it up. Some great stuff in it.