This post, by Colleen Lindsay, originally appeared on The Swivet on 2/4/09.
A recent comment on a writing blog caused me to start mumbling under my breath and making impolite mutterings to my cats and furniture. (This is what one does when one is housebound and sick for a long time.) I’m paraphrasing the commenter here, who said something to the effect that s/he missed the good old days of publishing, when writers only had to write the books and publishers marketed them all, but alas, writers no longer live in that world and now we are (wailing and gnashing of teeth!) forced to (horrors!) self-promote!!!
I have news for you: We have never lived in that fantasy world.
Most authors have been responsible for the bulk of their own self-promotion all the way back to Dickens’ time. (And Dickens was a master of self-promotion, by the way.) Because publishing brings in such a narrow margin of profit, publishers have always relegated the bulk of their promotional resources to those books that they see as their best opportunity for a return on their investment. And the more money they have invested in the manuscript, the more they’re going to want to promote that manuscript. It’s pretty simple math.
But authors have always been expected to do their own self-promotion and outreach. It’s in every author questionnaire ever sent to an author by a publisher. It’s in every conversation an agent has with a potential new client (and if it isn’t, it should be): What will you be doing to aid in the promotional efforts for your own work?
It just seems that today I’m hearing writers complain about it a lot more.
Well, stop whining and suck it up. Every job comes with unpleasant tasks, even being a published writer.