I want to be a writer. I’m studying to be an English teacher, and I’ll probably spend much of my life in a classroom, but writing is my true passion.
Why become an English teacher instead of a professional writer? It’s extremely difficult to make a living as a writer, particularly a writer of fiction. Most novelists have full- or part-time jobs. As much as I’d love to spend eight hours a day writing fiction, it’s probably not going to happen.
Even so, I do hope to become a novelist. I’ve finished a novel, a wry fantasy about an Oxford student who is summoned to another world by a magician who had been trying to summon a completely different person. The novel, The Trials of Lance Eliot, is currently in search of a publisher, like a ship drifting through stormy seas in search of a safe harbor.
I’m tremendously excited about my novel, but there’s something else I’m not excited about at all: self-promotion.
Publishers expect authors to promote themselves through websites, book signings, public readings and so forth. Most authors must sell themselves in order to succeed. That bothers me. I can’t claim to be a particularly humble person—the truth is that I struggle with vanity and conceit—but I can honestly admit to being a modest person. I don’t like making a fuss about myself, my writing or anything remotely connected with me.
A few months ago a friend sent me a link to a quirky online graphic novel titled Ratfist. (It’s a zany superhero comic with surprisingly profound philosophical themes; if you’re interested, you can check it out here.) The cartoonist, Doug TenNapel, comments on each page of the novel, and one of his statements made me stop and think.
“I have no problem with shameless self-promotion. It’s not for my good, it’s for you. I like making stuff. It’s not as fun to make stuff if people don’t see it. Entertainers entertain.”
This comment helped me see self-promotion from a different perspective. There’s not much point in making stuff (in my case, novels and blog posts) unless people see it. People won’t see it unless someone promotes it. No one else will promote it unless I pay them. Since I’m a poor college student, that leaves me with only two options: be modest and write stuff that few people will read, or promote myself and write stuff that more than a few people will read.
That said, I’m going to ask a favor of you. Yes, dear reader, you. I’d be honored if you’d give TMTF a shout out. Do you like the blog? Awesome! Let us know what you like about it! Do you think the blog is the worst thing since Rebecca Black’s music? Slightly-less-but-still-somewhat awesome! Let us know what you don’t like about it! Whether you mention TMTF on your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter account or in some other way, the Typewriter Monkey Task Force and I would be very grateful.
I write TMTF to share my passion for the things I’m passionate about: the goodness of God, the eccentricity of gaming culture, the humor of everyday life and a thousand other things. The purpose of this blog is to impart hope or understanding or inspiration—or at the very least a healthy laugh—to someone who needs it. I’m really excited about TMTF and my other writing projects. But there’s not much point in writing unless someone actually reads it. As that Julian Smith guy from YouTube so often says, “I made this for you!”
So please consider giving TMTF a good word on your blog or Facebook page or Twitter account! Always feel free to comment on blog posts! (My typewriter monkeys love comments on their work.)
You are the reason I write, dear reader. Whether or not you choose to give this blog a mention, thank you for being awesome and giving me a reason to write.
don’t be discouraged … keep up the good work. I read your guest post at SCL today and enjoyed it enough to come over and read a few entries and I’ve already thought of some friends who I think would enjoy this blog.
In regards to this post … I highly recommend following Michael Hyatt’s blog, He has some of the best practical advice I’ve ever read about creating a platform. Here is just one of his takes on the subject ….. http://michaelhyatt.com/marketing-is-dead.html
As a brand-spanking-new-wet-behind-the-ear blogger, I really like your viewpoint on self promotion. No one will ever advocate for you (or a cause you believe in) better than you can. With only 7 posts under my belt, I was doing backflips when I had my first comment last week. I’ve had none since, which I expect, but if I don’t at least let people know I exist, how will anyone ever find me? At this point, I had mentioned to some others that I would welcome spam, as it would indicate some form of site visits!
I love your point that there is no point in creating stuff if no one sees it. Others say that your primary audience to please should be you, but if it never expands beyond that, you’re writing nothing more than an online journal. I see both sides, but without some sort of self-advocacy, how can you build an audience?
I love the diversity of the blog, covering many subjects you are passionate about. That is the angle I am striving for, and it’s nice to see that it CAN work, because it certainly does here! Great job!
If you have a Facebook account, you can publicize each of your blog posts on your Facebook profile; that’s how I let people know about the existence of TMTF when I started the blog. Thanks for your kind words about TMTF, and the best of luck in writing and promoting your own blog!
Not usually good for the verbose but an excellent way of self-promotion is to have a twitter account linked to your blog. People get a taste of content then read the rest of what you have to say. Do you have a Twitter account?
I don’t have a Twitter account, but it’s an excellent idea. I might have to bite the bullet and get a Twitter account sometime soon. Thanks for the suggestion!