My friend Steven Savage is in the middle of a series of posts on his blog that are a run-up to the unveiling of his new novel A Bridge To The Quiet Planet. (#1, #2.) The idea is to provide an introduction to the world, its setting, the forces that shaped it, and the characters in it. I've not done anything that involved myself — not even for books that probably could have benefited from it, like Flight Of The Vajra — and I think now I know why.
You've probably noticed I've tended to be very reticent when it comes to promoting my work. I don't like to be too aggressive or intrusive; I hate coming off as pushy or overconfident. My longtime thought about it has been, here it is, take it or leave it. If the synopsis for a story doesn't hook you, then it's probably not for you — that or I just didn't write the blurb well enough to be interesting. Ergo, it's All My Fault.
This mostly stems from the atrocious tactics I've seen other self-published authors used to draw attention to their works. Horror stories I could tell, by the dozens. Most involved people who had no idea how to cultivate a public image pushing their works in venues not remotely suited for it, or verbally abusing the very people who might well be most responsible for helping others know about it.
So, no, I didn't want to come off as a spammer, but I ended up going a little too far in the other direction. And out of that abreaction came a great many other unquestioned assumptions — like the idea that talking about my own work in a venue that was expressly created for that was somehow bragging or conceited.
Mixed in with all that is the feeling — one that has a fair degree of legitimacy to it — that my work has at best a very small audience. That may well be true. (Hello to my fans, all six of you.) But I'm also realizing it is first and foremost going to have the size of audience that I attempt to find for it, and that there are ways to do that which aren't at all pushy or rude. It's not a sin to demand that your creations find the right audience, and to work wherever you can to make that happen. As Steve put it, you deserve more readers, but they also deserve you.
Finally, there's a part of me that absolutely hates to spoil the best parts of a story. I'm fondest of preserving the experience where you go in knowing as little as possible about something. Trouble is, that allergy to premature over-exposure has also put me in a position where even talking about the most basic aspects of my story feels like I'm giving away too much.
I'm currently mulling some ways I could "intro-post" for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned when that finally drops. (Sorry to keep you waiting; it's been a busy few months.) Some of it will be a deliberate attempt to push back on all these bad habits; mostly, it'll be a way to drive what I hope is some real excitement for the book.
Look for all that Real Soon Now.
(P.S.: I've also been redesigning the cover art for AONO — as seen in the sidebar — so expect an unveiling of that at some point soon, too.)
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Other Lives Of The Mind