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In My Own Little Corner, In My Own Little Chair

You know I’ve been whoring all over god’s creation trying to sell my book. I was recently asked what exactly I’ve been doing to raise my profile. I’ve been writing articles for writerly magazines and websites. I sent out an e-card to everyone I’ve ever met, to writing programs and conferences. I’ve said yes to every gig I’ve been invited to including the local Psoriasis Society, but they flaked out. What won’t I do to spread the gospel according to me and my fat ass? I’m about to do an actual book mailing to MFA types in the tri-state area, have crafted a letter that only be described as smeg. I’ve even created an “author page” on Amazon. Oh, and I tweet. That’s a shitload of fun. I don’t do Facebook because of my stalker tendencies and my desire to keep friends at a minimum.

How important is self-promotion, I’m often asked.  Well, it’s very important.  But you want to make sure you do it right, which means that by the end of it you are completely unrecognizable to yourself, that you’ve made of yourself an asshole so blazing the angels sing. And at night, when you take off your bra and lay your weary head on your pillow, and look at the ceiling, a tear slips out of your eye as you remember the fledgling writer who couldn’t afford a copy and you gave her one, insisting she have it as gift. Or the man who brought a tattered first edition and said the book saved his life, only when you opened it, every line had been underlined and the margins were filled with swastikas.  Being a whore, none of this really makes an impression on you. You’d do a horse in Times Square if you thought it would move your Amazon rank.

What would you do for your book?

59 Responses

  1. Well, I’m a big believer in scads of swag. In my case, I guess I’d be giving out miniature corsets. Perhaps glittering tiaras. I’m pretty sure a blowjob here and there would not be out of the question. Except, oops, I’ve written a YA book. Hm. Fine, blowjobs for the dads. Good fodder for the ensuing memoir, don’t you think?

  2. As Dorothy Parker said, “And by horse you mean Leonardo DiCaprio?”

  3. I’m spreading the word. Trouble is, I haven’t finished it. Every few pages inspires me to write something else and I’m gone for another couple of days. Seriously, your book says everything a writer needs to hear. And I’m only on page 71

  4. i call myself a fucking writer. a writer fucking 😉

  5. Why the ham? Because you’ve had to ham it up or because now and then you find those little rainbows like oil slicks?

  6. Even a narcissist –¿Especially a narcissist? — is very funny when they look in the mirror.

    Memphis Trace

  7. I would sell my SOUL for my book. Doc Faustus style.

  8. Get up at 6.30am to write it, for one. I’m 11,000 words behind.

  9. I’d sit behind a rickety table in a bookstore loaded with undisturbed stacks of my debut novel, clutching a new pen with a ever-more desperate rictus-like smile on my face, while people slip past, unwilling to make eye-contact except to ask me where the bathrooms are.

    And i might travel for the opportunity to do this.

  10. Thanks Betsy. Just snorted hot coffee out of my nose laughing at the swastika dude comment.

    I’m with Phil, gotta finish the sucker first. Then I assume it’s all unicorns and rainbows.

  11. “What would you do for your book?”

    Whatever was reasonably possible, though I don’t believe I’d wear a bra. I’ve never needed one when I’ve previously gone a-whoring.

  12. Right now, I mainly think wistfully of the manuscript when I’m with my friends and avoid the manuscript when I’m alone with it. Classic commitment-phobia.

  13. Silence, exile and cunning babe.

  14. We’re planning a possible trip cross country. Over breakfast the husband asks if there’s any chance I can get a finished product before then so we can buy a thousand copies and lug them with us. He then came up with a pricing structure and marketing plan. Then he asked what dates he’ll need to be home when I’m travelling. He’s not artistic but he is business and this is his way of supporting my dream. There’s a reason the guy whips crowds into optimistic frenzies. It seems anything is possible. So, how much whoring? Oh, a lot. A lot.

  15. As I told my sons over pancakes this morning, I’d sell my children. They thought I was joking…pass the syrup, it’s delicious with ham.

  16. I gave an author talk holding a giant stuffed octopus (outside during the worse heat wave of the summer), I bought the ALA list and innundated librarians with postcards, I sent letters to key people at aquariums, etc etc. I made a cool website…not sure any of it helped, but last time I checked the books were still in print, so who knows….

  17. I’m thinking Lemonade Stand. I’ve got a pretty sturdy card table, and we get an awful lot of foot traffic around here. Really. A Lot.

  18. How books have you sold via those gigs? How many exploitable contacts have you filed? How much do you earn per book? How many hours have you wasted at events? How many days have you spent in a paralytic clutch of terror before those events? How many people have you burned, recovering from those events?

    How many words could you have written, if you hadn’t done any of that?

    The best way to promote your current book is to write your next one.

    Okay. I just opened my copy (one book sold via blog!) of FFTT (which I just realized is pronounce ‘fat’) to the Contents.

    Calling Down the Words: A Decisive Workbook for Ambivalent Writers
    The Wicked Child: How to Betray Your Family from Here to the Bestseller List
    Touching Fire: Wordsong of the Junkie Suicides
    Hedge Your Bets: A Publishing Memoir, with Extra Dollops of Cringeworthy Sex!
    Subtitle: A 25-Page $5 Ebook the Sole Purpose of Which Is To Encourage the Reader to Buy FFTT

    My books wither on the vine. I can either stand back and watch them die with a sick sort of satisfaction, or work my ass off and watch them die with a sick sort of depression. Fuck my books. I’m not a bookseller. I’m terrified of public speaking and I’ve got the charisma of a tube of anti-fungal cream. I’m a writer. I write. There’s a reason nobody’s ever confused me with a spokesmodel.

    Is anyone selling Lichtenstein-esque T shirts at writers’ conferences that say, ‘Oh my God! I forgot to develop a platform!’ ‘Oh %$#&! I forgot to get a day job!’ ‘A beginning, a middle, and a *what*?!?!”

    • Stern email from a lurker forces me to amend the above. There’s one good reason for self-promotion: to show publishers that you’re self-promoting, which helps them sleep at night secure in the knowledge that they’ve maximally exploited your labor, and encourages them to offer you another ride. Which isn’t nothing.

  19. OMG this post is timely since my novel starts walking the streets today. I’ve already done one thing in a good way that I’d never though I would do and it may even turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever done we’ll see in a few weeks.

    What wouldn’t I do …hmmm. I not going to get naked. I wouldn’t do a horse or Kanye West ( even though musically he a freaking genius) . A whole lot of other things are negotioble. We shall see…now that the rubber is hitting the road even Kanye might get to looking good.

  20. What would I do for my book. The trouble is, I’ve followed my–erhm–passion into writing books I’d be embarrassed to be caught reading. The first one is due out this month and I plan to spend that day spooning a bottle of Jim Beam under the bed, humming, “Oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…”

  21. Got this link from a writerly friend and lo and behold, I have your book!! I love your book! (although, apparently not enough to go looking for your blog! LOL my bad!) I’m not done my book yet, but I did just publish my blog….does that count?? I’m telling all and sunder. I’d do just about anything to promo my book when it comes it (when, not if, WHEN) but maybe not the whoring. My hubby might object to that! 😉

  22. I’m not sure. I think I’ll cross that bridge when I finally sell one. But I think I’ll use your approach as a template. What a world, said the evil witch as she melted. That an introverted author has to flog whatever medium he can to make his book a success. For an extrovert, it’s bring-it-on-Gunga Din. For the more retiring, it’s high school prom all over again.

  23. I would avoid going to unusual lengths to promote my book. I might show up at B&N because it’s a mile from where I live. Facebook definitely. That’s at least 100 copies. Local TV yes. I believe in word of mouth. I believe in wearing buttons that say ask me about my book.

  24. I’m easy, all I need is an invitation, but I draw the line at cruise ship lectures. At least, I THINK I draw the line at cruise ship lectures.

    I’ll have to wait until I get a call from Princess or Carnival to know for sure. But for SURE, I won’t do a Caribbean cruise.

    I think.

    • The QE2 has a lecture circuit. I’ve been angling to get on it for three years, baby.

    • I just read somewhere that Margaret Atwood is doing a cruise. Had never heard of such a thing before.

      • oh, she pimps herself out on a variety of cruises. picture it. margaret atwood by the ice carvings. maybe the iceman carves one out special, thematically speaking. i’m thinking sexual politics.

  25. Given that I have been on the agent search for months now (even though I HAD an agent already and never dreamed it would be this hard to just get back to the place I was before) I have been asking myself this very question quite a lot lately. How far would I go to get readers? Would I give up on the this version of the dream and just self-publish it as an e-book and work my ass off to get some attention, go full on shameless? Would I turn it into an iPhone app? Tweet it sentence by sentence?

    What would I do for my book? How far would I go? I don’t know but I have the sickening sense that I’m nowhere near the bottom yet.

  26. I’ll wax the brows but I won’t dye the hair–there are limits people.

  27. As an ebook author solely responsible for promoting my books, I’d do a whole herd of horses on the front steps of the White House with one caveat: They must all be geldings.

  28. Write it.

  29. I would give up mint chocolate chip ice cream. And that is saying a lot as it is currently my main way to de-stress four months before my wedding.

  30. Two of the main characters in my novel-in-progress are currently lecturing on a cruise ship. Seriously, I was working on that just this morning. Stop reading my mind, people.

  31. Ask not what you would do for your book but why—

    would you

    a) jump out of tree stump and read on national tv

    b) turn your car ( if you have one finally) into a billboard with giant book cover magnet as you drive from town to town

    c) brag and tweet that today your last book was shortlisted as CLA book of the year even if not available in the USA

    d) pray that it finds the readers you want to read it

    e) go onto the next

    f) yes ,to all of the above

  32. i would not eat a ham sandwich.
    i would fix the sentences a lot.

  33. “You’d do a horse in Times Square if you thought it would move your Amazon rank.”

    Best line I will read all day.

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