Today I sent to Tachyon Publications a blurb for Jeff Vandemeer's non-fiction book Booklife. The blurb is this:
"Jeff Vandemeer has written a fascinating book on managing a writing career, including effective promotion, use of new media, career paths, resources, networking, conventions and -- not incidentally! -- balancing all of this with actual writing. Recommended for anyone who writes, wants to write, or has written and now wonders what to do next."
All of this is true; I try hard to be accurate when blurbing. However, it is not the whole truth, which includes the fact that, for me at least, Booklife raises some troubling questions. It also fills me with guilt. The questions are: How much web presence does a writer need to succeed? What if one doesn't podcast, tweet, use Facebook and/or My Space, guest-blog on prominent sites, network and contact? Is such a writer seriously damaging his or her chances for SF success?
Vandemeer writes: "The real problem isn't making contacts -- it's identifying and paying attention to the people who really matter....The database my wife and I keep includes reviewers, bloggers, artists, writers, readers, media outlets, bookstore managers, reviewers, and several other 'types,' keeping in mind that one person can be tagged as several different types. It's a robust list from which we can call up, for example, 'all U.S. reviewers who have previously covered Jeff's books.' I even try to keep a note in the log on reviewers to indicate which books of mine they've enjoyed...This helps us help our publisher identify who to court and who to ignore for a particular project."
I do none of this (hence the guilt). Vandemeer does include, in the second half of the book, valuable advice on striking a balance between the creative and PR lives. In addition, when publicist Matt Staggs was handling my book Dogs, I was thrilled with the large web notice he created for the novel. But in general, I am severely deficient in all these areas, and the number of hits on this blog is therefore pretty low. Should I spend more time building a web presence? Probably. But the truth is, I don't want to. I like blogging, love going to cons, answer all my fan mail, and remember about twice a year to query EscapePod to see if they might want to see any stories. That's pretty much it.
Guilt, guilt, guilt.