Gina Penn, unabridged.

Attention Whore

I read a fantastic blog post today from my World Fantasy Convention friend Livia Blackburne about self-promotion. If you’re a writer, then I suggest you take five minutes out of your day and read her blog post, which you can find here.

If you’re a smart writer, then you’ll subscribe to her blog and read her posts religiously.

Anyhow, this blog got me thinking. I HATE self-promotion. Hate. Hate. I hate it more than the average person. Attention has never been something I’ve been comfortable with, however, I do fake it rather well. The wall-flower child, that’s me. I’m passive and quiet by nature, so whenever someone asks me about my writing, my muscles clench all the way down to my inner eye. I almost lost a job because I refused to pimp the company’s products. It’s not me. When the book of Gina was being written, the chapter on extrovertedness ended up in the editor’s trash can.

This isn’t the way it works in the book world. I can write books all day long. I can bend your ear until it breaks off with a terrific yarn, leaving you satisfied yet wanting more. I love every process of writing books; some I favor more than others but I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences for all the quid in England. Yet, when it comes to this one part, this one, tiny, itty-bitty, teeny, miniscule piece, I cower like a nerd who has offended the school bully. “Please, officer, I’ll tell you anything you want to know, anything at all, but please don’t make me tell you about my book!”

Any agent reading this post has now clicked away.

One of the main reasons why I hate promoting my work is because I’m filled with self-doubt. I’m very fortunate and unfortunate to have a slew of extremely talented friends that are writers and when you’re surrounded by that much talent all the time, you feel like Forrest Gump at an M.I.T. party. Stephen King could tell me my writing is great and I still wouldn’t believe him. This self-doubt isn’t singular to me and I know it-lots of writers have this crippling anxiety-but it keeps me from getting my work out there and getting noticed by potential readers.

Part of me is okay with this. I’m not about the money. I don’t live extravagantly and I don’t aspire to. Sure, the money is a nice side-effect but it’s not the goal. I just want to have fun.

But the other part, after reading Livia’s blog, now feels a little bad about this. Personally, I would be a little upset if a great book was out there and I didn’t know about it simply because the writer was too chickenshit to tell me about it.  I know that I should get out there and scream about my books on the tallest building on the highest mountain in Colorado but I like the Bartleby defense: I prefer not to (shame on you if you don’t get the reference, especially if you’re a writer). In my perfect world, those who would enjoy my work would stumble upon it purely by accident, or by word of mouth, or accidental word of mouth. But it’s not a perfect world and a lot of people could be missing out. That I can’t have.

I am going to work on supporting the stuff that is baked fresh from my brain and onto the page. I am going to try to be more confident, even when green-eyed lurkers in my life have nothing better to do than post fake reviews about me. I won’t tweet about them 24/7, I absolutely abhor people who do that but I will make a point to talk about them more often.

Now, go to the links at the top and buy my books, dammit!

3 responses

  1. Penny

    Pimping, yep you can do it I have seen it and well I can relate to it as well. Know that this FAN pimps you every chance she gets!
    BING!
    -P

    September 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

  2. Great post, Gina! I think you’re right that self doubt is a lot of what’s going on. On the upside, I think self doubt gets a lot easier to deal with after you get your first few sets of positive feedback from readers.

    September 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

  3. KCarey

    I write and do some other things and find it odd to sometimes… Toot my own horn about saying ‘Hey, you should check out this and buy it’, cause I feel desperate. There’s a difference between Attention Whore and Shamless Plugging… The latter works and is not bad.

    October 24, 2011 at 3:18 pm

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