I’m only comfortable with allowing the public to see so much of my body. I’m not even all that comfortable in a bathing suit. Yes, I feel self-conscious about my almost fifty body. But it’s more than that. Being nearly naked—in an age that focuses on physical perfection—makes me feel exposed. To comments, observations, and judgment. I don’t want to be judged, liked or disliked, on my body, the package—whether it’s too skinny or too saggy. I want people to focus on what’s inside. What makes me tick and what I have to offer.
Now let's apply that train of thought to my profession.
There used to be a time when writers wrote. Period. They poured their time and energy into writing the best story they could and the publisher took it from there. These days a publisher not only wants a great story, a publisher wants to know what you, yes, you—the creative artist—is going to do to market your book.
For now, let’s bypass the time and money spent on conventional promo avenues (bookmarks, print ads, mailing lists, etc.) and focus on the Internet. Don’t quote me, but I’m pretty sure it’s expected that you participate in social networking—the more the better. MySpace, Facebook and Twitter are the big ones. Then there’s Good Reads, Library Thing, Red Room, Amazon Connect … Oh, and blogs. Not only should you have your own, but you should comment on others. Maybe your publisher also has a special place on their website where you can interact with readers.
All in all, that’s a lot of interacting. That’s a boat load of time mingling when you could/should be writing. For awhile I tried to do it all. I wanted to please my publisher. Even more so, I wanted to sell as many of my books as possible. Not because I wanted to make a lot of money (although that would be nice), but because I wanted to cultivate a lot of readers. Spreading joy brings me joy. The more, the better.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who can ‘do it all’ for long periods of time. I started sweating deadlines. Big time. There were others factors, such as the day job, and family obligations/needs. There simply wasn’t/isn’t enough time in the day. But that excuse doesn’t fly far. Bottom line: Missing deadlines is bad.
Something had to go.
The day job is financially necessary. Family is vital. Spinning stories is my passion. That left ‘social networking’. I cut back a little. Then a lot. Whether or not this was wise in the career scheme of things is unclear. I think there are authors who benefit greatly and see a lift in sales because they are incredibly active in the social media circles. Then again, there are authors who seem to be enjoying moderate to great success who I never see participating in any of these Internet venues.
Truth told, aside from a time issue, I’m just not that inspired to blog everyday or to Tweet every five minutes. I’m not all that interesting folks. Also, I’m not comfortable blurting everything and everything that crosses my mind. I don’t want readers to buy and read my books based on ‘me and my life’. I want readers to escape real life and to enjoy the tales that bloomed from my imagination.
A few months ago, when I tried to convince a friend/author to join Twitter, he said to me, “But don’t you ever feel like you’re giving too much of yourself?”
It took me a month or so to comprehend the full meaning of that question. “Don’t you feel too exposed?” Today, my answer would be yes. I don’t want ‘the world’ (and folks, once you put it on the Internet, it is world-wide fodder) to know my every thought. Some things are private. Some things are for my husband only. Or my closest friends only. Or me only.
I suddenly feel very old fashioned. I worry I’m not going to cultivate as many readers as I’d like. At least, not as quickly as I’d like. I worry I’m copping out . . . but at the same time, I’m being true to myself. I’m devoting precious time to writing the stories of my heart rather than rambling on about whatever. I’m protecting my personal life, honoring my personal life, and trusting (hoping and praying) that I will build a vast readership and impressive sales based on my storytelling period. It may take me longer to get to where I want to be, but at least I’ll be content along the way.
Where do you stand on artist exposure? Are you more inclined to ‘support’ the artist’s works if you’re privy to his/her personal life/likes/beliefs? Or are you more interested in the story itself? Do you ever feel authors (actors/musicians--celebs) are over exposed? Does it ever discourage you from investing time and money into their latest project?
Where do you stand on author (actor/musician--celeb) Internet exposure... or overexposure?
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