This goes to at least partly explain the instinctive revulsion I feel when being pitched a book by a brash, seemingly over-confident individual. Part of me thinks "Oh fuck you.", and part of me (if truth be told, to an equal extent) feels "Oh fuck me." as I realize that yet another person is waaaayyyy ahead of me in the self-promotion stakes, and that I have really been a total failure in that department. There is a cliché out there which says that writing the book is the easy part. Well, perhaps there's some truth in the sentiment, but of course writing a book is a different experience for everybody. Recently, I was sarcastically harangued online for asking a simple question (it was perhaps a dufus question - but then I'm a publishing dufus). The sarcasm was entirely misplaced and unnecessary - tending to mark the speaker down as something of a piece of male genitalia - but then the personal foul was compounded by an unsolicited comment about the fact that she had published three books since the start of the year, and written a couple more, and why hadn't I?.
Well, I thought, fuck you (and of course, also fuck me). This petit contretemps illustrated a few things to me, however. Firstly, some people write books very, very quickly (I have no idea about the length or, more importantly, quality of the work so produced, but I have my suspicions - but then all judgements are subjective, so maybe I should just shut up) - I could never produce work at that level, and would never try to. Second, some people who profess to be steeped in the literary world have the empathetic abilities of a cat flea, and third, I stand absolutely no chance of getting my voice heard against the clamour created by such loud-mouthed and self-assured people (I think my hyphen key just died...). It's a lot like being the quiet kid in class with his hand raised in the air while much more loud and assertive people yell out answers or offer questions.
Oddly enough, I was never a quiet kid at school...there must be tens of thousands of dollars in therapy sitting behind my eyes.
BUT, I thought - in capital letters - who ever does what a good teacher/trainer would do, and makes sure that the quiet ones have a voice? Yes, there are individuals and groups out there in the social media world who profess to be there for the 'Indie' author, but my experience has been that they too are dominated by the loud, the brash and the frankly obnoxious - in fact it was on just such a group's page that this verbal crossing of swords took place. It seems odd to me that not yelling about how good we are, about how awesome our work is or being able to put together compelling reasons for buying our work should be a quality that is punished by the literary world - but it seems to be. It's a hurdle that I find - and I don't think that I'm alone (indeed, I have a sneaking feeling that there is a large, reticent majority of authors who feel similarly) - very difficult to overcome.
Bluntly, I don't know how to tell the world how good my book is (I don't know that it is, but I hope so, based on some independent feedback). My brain seizes up when I try to put together something zingy or confident. I can't help feeling that there are a lot of writers out there who feel the same way, and for whom the kind of help currently on offer (Buy this! Buy that! Become a marketing monster!) is as repellant as the idea of becoming a used-car sales person (with apologies to used-car sales people). It's not who we are.
Like so much of society today, the rewards seem to be reserved for the largest egos, and I suspect that as a result, there is an astonishing amount of excellent writing being ignored by the major publishing houses. I hope that I'm wrong, but I have a nagging feeling that I'm not.
Anyway, if you're trawling through Amazon's listings, I'm currently the kid at the back of the classroom with his hand in the air...