Yesterday a friend called and by her hesitant manner, I knew she wanted a favor. Eventually, she got to her point. She wanted me to have coffee with her friend who was writing her first book and who wanted my advice on how to proceed. I agreed to meet this friend, of course. Advice comes cheap enough. But each time someone wants me to coach them about becoming a writer, I feel like a fraud. I’m not a success myself. If I had to live off my sales, I’d starve. What’s more, there’s no trick to publishing a book these days. I’ve said it many times: electronic printing makes publishing within almost anyone’s reach. The trick is to sell books once they’re in print, and that takes marketing know-how which I don’t have.
To begin with, who reads my work is a mystery to me. Recently, l came in for a shock when a longtime blog subscriber asked me to unsubscribe him. I don’t know why. Was he bored? Or had I said something to give offense? Of late, I’d written about a 90 year-old Madame who was still providing leggy “companions” for the rich and famous. (Blog 9/29/14) I thought the story was amusing, but perhaps my blog reader didn’t agree. Perhaps, he was offended by what I’d written. Which returns me to my point about marketing. The first question a writer should ask is what persona does he or she wish to project? Astute marketers are careful about their image. To attract readers who will buy their books, they project a face that is friendly and without controversy. They could be axe murderers in reality. The point of a persona is to remain hidden.
I see nothing wrong in being careful with one’s image, by the way. That’s the point of marketing. But turning myself into Betty Crocker or Mrs. Sees isn’t what I’m about. At 78, I have warts like everyone else. I ask my readers to forgive me if my views diverge from theirs; but they mustn’t ask me to pretend.
Am I behaving with integrity to complain of masks? Or am I a fool to forget we all wear one?
I regret I’m not old enough to have answers to my questions, and they are important if one intends to be a successful writer. Nonetheless, the bulk of my life has been spent in self discovery. Who am I as a person? How to chose a face as a writer, baffles me — which is why I am the last person to give anyone marketing advice. All I know is that I chose to be myself and I hope that will be good enough for my readers.