I received an email yesterday from Lulu. Lulu is an online site where you can self-publish your own books. They told me that a novel I had written, called The Whistle at Siete Vientos had now been published as an iBook and that anyone could download it at minimal price. I downloaded the sample chapters (don’t want to pay myself and Lulu to be honest!) and boy, it looks very nice, thank you, on an iPad (or whatever iSomething you use). I love the way you flip the pages!
It made me think of Tara Benwell, PLN member and self-publisher of a novel called The Proper Order of Things – a curiously dark and compelling tale of family dysfunction, lit by extraordinary characters and an apparently guiless heroine (but is she?!). Tara is doing amazing work publicising her novel. And so she should.
Or should she?!! See it’s a whole lot easier when someone else publishes our work. I am lucky enough to write, in the main, about what good English teachers do around the world and that somehow distances me a little bit from my ego! Furthermore it is in the publisher’s interests (not just mine) to sell as many copies as possible. So somehow it doesn’t feel so bad to, for example, give talks which will help the books on their way – although (he said defensively) I try to avoid overt commercialism because I am not sure that helps teachers – many of whom don’t make book choices anyway.
But Tara is her own publisher – as I am for my own novel. So no one else is going to do the leg work except her – or me. But it feels awkward. Please please buy my book! Pleeease! – how easy it has been to think that one is above all that when a publisher is involved, but if I want to sell my book (and Tara hers), then that’s what I have to say, I guess.
Ego! Selt-belief! Do we admire self-promoters? Is it a bit British to be vaguely disapproving of people who hawk their own wares? Certainly the Twitter self-publicists are, on the whole, thought less of than the ones who exchange information, have fun and share. Yet how else is David to get his English Garden material known if he doesn’t shout about it himself? How else can Tara expect to win the Booker prize (or Canadian equivalent) if she doesn’t promote herself shamelessly?!!
Not the first time for me of course because I made a CD with my friend Steve Bingham. But that’s easier too, because I can tell everyone what an incredible musician he is (because he really is!). With the novel there’s no shield like that!
So that’s it, really. Of course I want you to BUY MY BOOK! But that’s really NOT what this post is all about. It’s really about what is acceptable for self-publicists and how to do it without looking like a prat (DEF: a major idiot, delusional and dumb)!