Paginations

I’m an author unwilling to talk about himself…

This just in: I’m uncomfortable talking about myself. The problem? It may be the only way to succeed as an independent author…

Hi, I’m Steve, and I’m an author.

[audience: Hi Steve…]

That’s about all I’m usually prepared to say. I mean, who cares who I am, what I do, where I’ve been? My wife, kids, family, friends, they know the answers (and most of the time don’t really care anyway) but now that I’ve jumped in to writing with both feet, I find it’s a necessity to promote my book as a product, me as a brand.

Yes, that’s how I view it. The book I wrote, Gabriel’s Redemption, is a product that needs to be promoted. I’m totally fine with that; I’ve been in some form of sales or another most of my adult life, and most of those years as a business owner. I could easily step up to a podium in front of a hundred industry professionals (my company’s industry, not writing!) and wax philosophically about the benefits of swim-up bars, beach waiters, and mojitos (bet you’re now curious what I do, aren’t you?) without batting an eyelash. However, if I had to stand up there and speak about me, who I am, there would be a plethora of “uhhhs” and “ummms” being uttered. It’s just not me. I don’t feel I’m important (or famous) enough for anyone to care.

However, I can’t keep hiding behind that veil of anonymity. For a self-published author to succeed, he or she must promote not only the product, but the brand itself – the author. And yes, the author is a brand. Say Stephen King, or Tom Clancy, or Stephenie Meyer, or Dan Brown (ugh), and a brand comes to mind. Not really a person (although in King’s case he’s done well for himself as a ‘face’ brand), but a name, a product line. And they’ve done that on purpose. Building a brand means promoting oneself as a name, and that name needs background. A story.

The reason I wrote this post is that I’m currently in the middle of completing an author interview sent to me by one of my great online friends. I just completed one two weeks ago, another two days ago, and I have two more in the near future I will be working on. Each and every one of them not only asks about the product, but also the brand. Me. And I’m forced to talk about myself. I have to tip my cap to Emlyn Chand, as her “twitterview” of me in February, after having been published for a matter of days, was the first time anyone had thought enough of me to want to interview, and it got me off the sidelines.

I’m not one to walk into a room and take over the conversation. I don’t normally think of myself as having an outsized personality, or dominant presence. But in these interviews, I need to! Building a brand means forcefully and truthfully relating who I am to the readers in order to let them know who I really am. How I came up with the motivations for the story. Showing them the face/person behind the name on the front cover of the book. And it’s damned difficult. No, I’m certainly not complaining – I am truly flattered that anyone would even consider the possibility of interviewing me (again my mindset is, who the hell am I?) but it’s trying to put words on paper describing myself that’s causing some angst…

I think I need a bigger ego…

18 comments

  1. Catana - April 28, 2011 12:21 pm

    The more I read about this business of “you have to reveal yourself to succeed,” the more I think it’s nothing but BS. Readers aren’t entitled to any more than you want to put out there about yourself. Successful writers have written under pseudonyms, have lived as reclusives who refuse to give interviews or give out any biographical information. There are plenty of other ways to make sure people want to read your books.

    Reply
    • Steve - April 28, 2011 12:36 pm

      “Successful writers have written under pseudonyms, have lived as reclusives who refuse to give interviews or give out any biographical information. ”

      Agreed – and thousands upon thousands of aspiring authors will languish in obscurity because they haven’t made a connection with their audiences. That’s really what I’m putting out in this post; not entitled readers, but more open authors, namely myself. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be interviewed if I didn’t make good connections, and a published online interview, I feel, is a fantastic way to further get the ‘brand’ name out there and expose the product to more potential readers.

      I don’t find it intrusive (I’m not answering questions like ‘who do you find sexier, Ryan Reynolds or Scarlett Johannsen?’) I’m more than willing to find more and more outlets to promote through, but some involve talking myself up, something I’m still getting used to…

      Thanks for the comments!

      ~Steve

      Reply
  2. B.C. Young - April 28, 2011 12:27 pm

    Catana makes a good point. I think it can go both ways.

    Reply
  3. articlestogo - April 28, 2011 12:37 pm

    I understand exactly how you feel. Of course once I get to the point of trying to discuss how great I am as a writer to my family that’s the extent of it because they aren’t at all interested and so I wonder why would anyone else care. I write because it is my passion and if I did become famous I’d probably hide behind a fake persona so the world wouldn’t know me.
    Liked your post a lot. T

    Reply
  4. Catana - April 28, 2011 12:45 pm

    I’d say that most of those thousands of writers who languish in obscurity simply aren’t good enough to make an impression. What the current prescription ignores is that you can strip yourself bare, even become famous for five minutes, and still fail because your books don’t impress the readers.

    It really doesn’t matter what the current trends are for promotion, most writers are mediocre to terrible. And that’s always been true. Look through the depressing proof in any large used-book store. Those who flourish in spite of having nothing new or interesting, or well-written, do so briefly, thanks to the majority of readers, who treat books like a disposable.

    Reply
  5. Tina Toler-Keel - April 28, 2011 1:21 pm

    First, I am impressed you have done interviews! I haven’t made it to that point yet. I have a Teen Devotional Book out and one short story, so I am not a “self published success” … YET!

    I do a personal blog and never know what to write. i have a lot I could ramble about; things that bug me, things that make me happy, things I see and hear, drama with kids, etc, but I can’t help but wonder, “WHO CARES?” It’s hard to get yourself out there.

    I also agree. People want and expect you to market YOURSELF and not just your book. It’s a new world we are living in and we must do all we can to get out there. Good luck!!

    Reply
    • Steve - April 28, 2011 1:38 pm

      I’m actually really enjoying the interviews; it’s making me step back and think about who I am as a writer, and try to describe it to others, to further get the word out. It’s a challenge, that’s for sure!

      ~Steve

      Reply
  6. Janice Maddox - April 28, 2011 1:23 pm

    This is what I’ve been working through. I talk about it in my last three blog posts. I’ve gotten tons of feedback that my nonfiction book needs to be more warm and personal and maybe I could share more personal stories. Same with the blog. This last post, nobody responded to it when it was just information, so I went back and added personal information about myself, and now people like it. I think it has something to do with current culture. I feel like I’m saying, “Okay, here, have my soul.. here’s my underwear…” But, it is what is needed for people to connect, for some reason. I don’t completely understand it, but it’s real. Now I’m a “Blog Whore” with no personal boundaries, but I’m very private by nature.

    Reply
    • Steve - April 28, 2011 1:32 pm

      Janice, I feel the same – it’s a wide-open type of society anymore, with instant status updates, live feeds, etc. and I think people are looking for more of a personal connection. I just want to try to put a face/person on the product!

      ~Steve

      Reply
  7. D. Ryan Leask - April 28, 2011 1:26 pm

    Doing readings, answering question, signing books all that stuff I actually really enjoyed when I self published. Once you get into the swing of it it’s a lot easier. What I hate is having to set all of that stuff up, the marketing aspect. That is the hard part for me.

    Oh, I like your Dan Brown (uhg) comment.

    Reply
    • Steve - April 28, 2011 1:36 pm

      I’ve spent much more time on marketing than in writing the actual novel…and now I find myself behind on Book 2 because of it. Tough balance to try to achieve – building the platform, or writing additional stories.

      Some may say don’t worry about who/how many people buy the book, just keep writing for writing’s sake. Well, honestly, I’d like this to eventually be my ‘real job’, so I do have to concern myself with the sales. Putting myself out there as the brand, I feel, can only help. Maybe I make that extra connection people won’t have with ‘corporate’ types of authors. Maybe the person debating between my novel and a famous author’s on the shelf remembers a nice blog post or tweet I made…

      ~Steve

      Reply
  8. @RebeccaLacko - April 28, 2011 1:32 pm

    I just read another post about this–the difference between the very private process of writing and the public act of publishing/publicity–all this use of “pub” as a root reminds me of #pubwrite, but I digress.
    I’m with you Steve. It’s an uncomfortable process akin to bragging on the playground about your offspring. You could talk about your wee beloved or book for hours, of course, but not without a healthy sense of humility and no amount of it makes you come across as a better parent or writer.

    Reply
    • Steve - April 28, 2011 1:37 pm

      That’s a good analogy, bragging about kids! However I find that MUCH easier than talking about myself; I could blab on for hours about how incredible my two boys are, but if someone says, “tell me about yourself” there’s a long pause…something I have to work to overcome I suppose!

      ~Steve

      Reply
  9. Lisa Nowak - April 28, 2011 4:34 pm

    I can sympathize. I’m really good about promoting my friends, but it seems so wrong to do the same thing for myself. BTW, thanks for having a WordPress blog. Blogger isn’t letting me leave comments for anyone today, so you lucked out by not using their evil services. 🙂

    Reply
  10. AJ Powers - April 28, 2011 5:12 pm

    Well said, Steve. I’m the same way. I like to always be a bit more of a silent hero (not saying I’m always a hero but have that mentality.) I like to stay out of the spotlight and be someone who works hard, but doesn’t need to have that fifteen minutes of fame. But I am learning the same thing, having people know me as a person/author is just as important as them knowing about my books. It’s something I am still working on breaking out of; slowly but surely.

    Reply
  11. rinnziegler - April 29, 2011 12:02 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this very question lately. Not because interviewers are pounding at my door, but because it will come up eventually and I’m pretty private about my life and protective of my family.

    It is nice to know I’m not to only author who is struggling with the knowledge that there must be a “brand” and the desire to be private.

    Reply
  12. R.A. Evans writes... - May 12, 2011 8:23 am

    I encourage you to talk more about yourself, Steve. You’re a talented writer, an expert in self-publishing, and a good friend. You don;t have to give up your privacy to promote your brand.

    Reply
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