Monday, January 23, 2012

Self-Promotion & Me & All Those Who’ve Played Their Part

While watching Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, I noticed the frequency of the self-promotion opportunities taken by the artists and writers (according to Allen’s story) portrayed in this film. Each time s/he came into contact with the protagonist, the artist in the scene gave a full accounting of talent and creation.

During the NFL Championship game Sunday afternoon, the words of Mohammed Ali formed part of a promotional video clip: “I am going to show you how good I am.” We expect these ego centric outbursts from the greats in their fields. Ali was famous for his one line stingers: “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”

But, I wonder just how confident any performer, athlete or artist really is. We are happy to promote one another, our companies, our publishers, our friends and colleagues. When it comes to putting our own talents on the stage, some of us hesitate.

Courage to say to yourself you’re good is one thing. Courage to shout it out loud is something else. More and more, writers are expected to fling their solitary work-mode into the bottom drawer and step onto the stage, limelight and greasepaint all aglow.

Before my career as a professional writer took hold, I had no qualms about promoting my marketing company to potential clients, with no sense of reserve or embarrassment. With my first published novel a mere three months from release, I am at a loss as to what I should and need to do.

Perhaps I am in a state of shock or a creative coma. My training in marketing is of no help. I know I must promote the book, myself, the story, attract readers, build suspense, start the buzz, ignite the fire. All my marketing instincts have gone on vacation, perhaps because I have no physical evidence of my Avalon novel.

I have a JPEG image of the book cover. I have a digital file of the copy-editor’s work. I have the final computer file of my revisions, but I have no book to hold in my hands. I can only imagine, by comparison to other Avalon novels I’ve read, how good my own book will be.

When a painter or sculptor or musician presents their efforts, they stand alone. The canvas or the marble or the sound are completely, utterly their own. For a writer, about to be published, the extent of the team involved becomes clear. In many ways, this makes promoting the book much easier.

Along the way, many hands add to the final product and before I tell you how much you will enjoy the story of Sylviana’s bold search of a love she lost, I want to hold the book and read again what my Avalon editor, Lia Brown, called a “terrific romance”, revel in the splendor of Matthew Simmons’s gorgeous book cover design, wonder at the stroke of fortune the I won a contract from the publisher in the first place, delight in the efforts of my copy-editor, marvel at the typesetter’s skill in composing space and line and letters on the page and be awed by the printer’s magical transformation.


Sandy Cody said...

Leigh, you've hit on a problem I think all writers deal with. I think it is especially hard for women to promote their own work - at least women of .. ahem ... a certain age. I have to keep reminding myself that it's OK to tell people about my book. Thanks for bringing it up. It helps to know others feel the same way.

By the way, your books sounds delightful. Good luck with it.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Thanks, Sandy. I think it's also the art form itself. We write in solitary, attuned to the sensibilities and feelings of others. I'm sure my friends and family have enough of my excitement and trepidations. As for complete strangers! Well, what planet do I come from?

Sheila Claydon said...

I really identified with your post Leigh. I'm just getting over the feelings that you are going through now, and it hasn't been easy. Kristen Lamb's books helped me. There are links on my website if you are interested. Even with her encouragement it still took a lot to put myself out there, however. It still does really, but it gets a little bit easier every day and I've been helped a lot by the discovery that most people are interested and ready to be helpful

Good luck with the book and the social media thing!

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Thank you, Sheila. It's a hurdle we have to jump or fall before! I'll follow those links. Much appreciated.

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

And thank you, Sheila, for linking to my Everwriting blog on Wordpress.