Although I haven’t a drop of British blood (my parents came from Vienna, my mother’s ancestors were Polish Jews and my father’s were German via Hungary), I have been feeling rather British lately. It’s that self-promotion thing. I’ve realized that most publishers aren’t going to publicize your book for you, unless you’re already famous (what is it that they take most of the profits for, again?) and that you will have to do it yourself. But that’s just not British!
Yes, I know British people hug a lot now, and squeal with excitement, and tell you their true feelings, and call lorries trucks. We are getting more and more Americanized by the moment. But still, it just doesn’t seem polite to keep pushing your book at people on Facebook and Twitter and in real life, or ‘away from keyboard’ as we are learning to say. I’m an extrovert, I like to be around people, but I’m deeply embarrassed to grab them by the lapel and say ‘I’ve written this marvellous book, you must buy it’. Almost as embarrassed as I am to say ‘You need Jesus’ (yes, I am the world’s worst evangelist - although perhaps it would be more biblical in any case to say ‘Jesus needs you’...)
Basically, we are not all born to be salespersons, and I don’t think we should have to be. The bolshie bit of me (what am I saying, the whole lot’s bolshie) wants to say ‘I’m a writer, not a sales rep; I know how to put words together and communicate, selling books is what I
have a publisher for’. But we know that’s not where we’re at any more. The writer has to be editor, proofreader, publicist, speaker and celebrity rolled into one. It’s a lot to expect.
Writing is a solitary pursuit, and sometimes it makes you forget how to be amongst people. How can we modest, humble (I’m proud of my humility), well-mannered desk-labourers become pushy, assertive marketers of our work? I’m not sure I know, otherwise I would have done it by now. And I might have sold a few more books. And lost a few more friends...
And another thing. We have to become a railway station too, and have ‘platforms’. Now I do social media - Facebook is my daily lifeline as I sit alone at my desk, and I have become more or less reconciled to Twitter. But I am about to receive my state pension, and as a ‘silver surfer’ I am only semi-literate - the moment I have to handle a picture I get a bit lost... Besides, I would think it rude to use Facebook, not for relating to friends, but for plugging my oeuvre.
Anyone else feeling like this? Is there some way in which we could help each other? Perhaps we could form a group: Shy Retiring Authors for Jesus. You see, it’s not just about sharing marketing tips; it’s about changing attitude. Can I ever become a marketer?
Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer whose latest book is Everything I know about God, I've learned from being a parent (BRF 2013). She also writes a column for Woman Alive magazine, and Bible notes for New Daylight. Veronica belongs to the only non-conservative, English speaking Mennonite church in the UK, and also blogs at reversedstandard.com