Being an Author: the true story. . . Think twice before you fantasize about becoming an author. In the six months leading up to the publication of my book, Inside the Flame, and for the past five months afterwards, I have been enslaved to blog writing, Facebooking, and at least five other varieties of social media.
It’s taken me as long to set up the social media sites and incessant code-governed practices required of today’s publishing—as long as it took me to actually write the book. Doing all of this is nothing short of hell, especially since most of us who write books simply wanted to write the damn thing. We didn’t want to become literary hookers selling ourselves and our ideas like so much virtual meat on any number of well-used digital platforms
Every morning I change my cover image on Facebook. Every morning I post an image, or an article, or a new mini-post about my book. On Facebook. And on LinkedIn. And on my website christinawaters.com, and on my Facebook Author site. Then I make sure I post something intriguing each week on Instagram, and on Goodreads. By Friday I’m exhausted, and still I cannot stop.
I need to create and line up at least three new posts for my Author page. Every. Week. Find images for them. And schedule them to go off like landmines all during the week.
Oh, did I forget to mention being held hostage by Constant Contact? Yes indeedy. You are not only required to create interesting content, as well as cheer-leaderesque self-promotional hypola, you’re required to package each week’s upbeat cry for attention (the weekly update) in an attractive manner. One that requires mining the internet for images. Cutting those images into the template’s preferred size. Writing excited emotionally-charged text, adding the appropriate links to places, people, and events tied into your product, i.e. The Book. Then the little announcement must be emailed out to potential, or alleged readers on your evolving email string.
And you must purchase this service using real money you may or may not actually have. Are you with me so far?
If I have a scheduled, in-person appearance, it gets worse. All the blogging, the social mediating, the posting, multiplies exponentially. Invite people. Tag people. Take pictures. Circulate the pictures. Post on friends’ sites, and when they post on mine, I immediately swoop in and thank them. “Excited!” I squeal (electronically). I feel like a needy and desperate performance artist enacting a public artwork for the benefit of a very few who have the time, the patience, and/or the inclination to dig deeper into what I’m up to than simply following my weekly food, wine, and art columns in GTWeekly.
People seem to love it when I’m irreverent, or highly opinionated, or critical of some public event which did not exactly deliver what I paid for.
People are less inclined to actually read an article, a thought-piece, or a critical essay in which I connect some intellectually or socially relevant dots and lead up to a reasoned (or at least well-illustrated) conclusion.
Here’s the deal: No one has any time. Everyone is overloaded. We are all overwhelmed with electronica, with digital obligations, with mindless FB happy talk and emoticon porno.
I’m exhausted. Worse. I’ve begun to turn on my own work.