So, here's the thing! I published my 11 books in the morning - by lunchtime I should have been a multi-millionnaire, a publishing phenomenon that agents and publishers wanted more than chocolate (or money). I expected to be more famous than the Beckhams or Pippa Middleton's backside - but that's not what happened! Where did it all go wrong?
Before we look at my modest expectations, let's first examine the problems associated with being a celebrity. First of all, you have no private life. Those awful people in the media will do anything to find out about your sordid life (notice how it's your sordid life and not mine anymore!) There is ample evidence of their underhand tricks in the controversy surrounding voicemail hacking by a certain newspaper, the sensational revelations about certain footballers and their penchant for callgirls, dirty texting to busty models, and getting friend's wives and girlfriend's into bed. Oh, I know women do it as well, but it seems that men are better (or should it be worse) at it! Also, you have to call your children Peaches, Sage Moonblood, or Pilot Inspektor! Then, you have to let the cameras into your home so that the minions can watch you brushing your teeth, eating, and abluting every week! Have I convinced you that being a celebrity is not what it's cracked up to be? No! Oh well, when you've got screaming fans pounding on your door night and day and crawling in through the catflap don't come crying to me!
As you do, I had a quick search using the nice Mr Yahoo's engine and stumbled into M. Louisa Locke's Front Parlour. She gives a wonderfully reasoned argument for 'Managing Expectations' and waxes lyrical about how, after sales dropped off she fell into the pit of despair, but has since had an attitude adjustment! I thought you had to visit your therapist at least twice a week for two years and hand over thousands of dollars to get one of those! Anyway, I digress (What a fantastic word! What the hell does it mean?) She (yes, we're still talking about Louisa here - pay attention for goodness sake!) talks about how everyone (except JA Konrath and a few others who are raking in the moolah) are generally in the same rotting wood boat (you know the one - they used it in Titanic and wouldn't let that nice Mr DiCaprio in because there wasn't enough room - pah!).
Louisa tells that it took her seven months until her book was selling well. Seven months! And she had to do a load of things to get noticed (she doesn't say what she had to do, but I've drawn a line in the sand - I drew a circle and a triangle as well, and had some ice cream also). She realised that as her sales rocketed, so did her expectations. Suddenly, when sales dropped from a hundred a day to fifty a day, she was devastated - Ha! We should all be so devastated! Anyway, she's seen her therapist, and he says that fifty sales a day is so-so!
I dropped in at the New York Times - as one does. In the dark dank underground corridors (that connect up to the Statue of Liberty, the room underneath the Amazon offices where they keep the profits from Indie Authors, and Central Perks) I found an article entitled: How Writers Build the Brand. Well, this guy that nobody likes called Tony who wrote the article, says that writing a book is the easy part. Pah - he's obviously never sweated blood over a manuscript. So, he talks about 'rabid self-promotion' (Rabid! What type of word is that to use in an article about books?) and 'an orgy of blogs, tweets, and YouTube trailers'. An orgy! I'm a bit on the wrinkly side, but I'm still game if you are? Leave a message and tell me when and where, but... I'm on these pills, so I can't get too excited, and nothing after 10 o'clock at night - I need my beauty sleep!
So, this Tony (who I've never heard of btw) puts an electron microscope to the methods writers used in the past to get their books noticed, such as Hemingway, Simenon, Whitman, and de Maupassant - to drop a few names. Well, what's clear is that if you want to be famous you have to get your hands dirty and self-promote. It's all a bit dirty though, isn't it?
Lastly, but not leastly, there's a site called The Business Rusch run by a wonderful young woman by the name of Kristine Kathryn Rusch - who sleeps during the day and likes biting necks at night (and I've still got the marks to prove it!) Anyway, Kristine tells us that all the work you're (notice how it's you again) doing on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon forums, Kindleboards, Bookbuzzr, blogging, guest blogs, book giveaways, blog tours, etcetera., are a complete waste of time. I'm so glad I'm not doing any of that rubbish!
Someone did a survey, and what sells books is:1) Author reputation 52%; 2) Personal recommendation 49% (word of mouth, scuttlebutt on the forums); 3) Price 45%; 4) Book reviews (37%); 5) Cover/blurb 22%; 6) Advertising (including online) 14%. Don'tcha just love objective evidence? You can work with data like that can'tcha - can'tcha hey? There have been some comments (see comments) that the figures don't add up to 100%! Well, it seems logical to me that people were asked to choose more than one answer - I suppose! American Booksellers Association - Check it out for yourself you unbelievers! But hey, does it really matter? For one, the truth is out there! (They should bring back the X Files). And for two, the figures (whether they add up to 100% or not) have a beauty all their own!
Hi, I'm Tim Ellis - I write a lot and I hope you enjoy what I write.