The State of Self-Promotion

Posted on August 6, 2012 by


LABYRINTH Installation - Jan - Feb, 2011. Salt. 3.2 x 11m. (C) Motoi Yamamoto |

Installation – Jan – Feb, 2011.
Salt. 3.2 x 11m.
(C) Motoi Yamamoto |

He introduces me as “a writer” to his friends. I want accuracy – I say in his native tongue, clumsily, that I earn nothing. I’d like to say that I often feel like a racehorse at the starting block: Let me show you how I can run, watching other races, pacing, for months and years, while my loved ones wait in line to bet extravagant amounts of money on me as soon as my name shows up on the board, but I don’t because I’m loath to butcher his language by trying.

I’m grateful for my Something Like OCD (undiagnosed? tendencies?); it creates inescapable purpose and structures the world’s chaos. It prevents my eagerness for a successful career from turning into impatience: my path is clear because I couldn’t want anything else.

I haven’t been posting but I saw this blog post by David Hewson today and I want to make a statement, stomp my foot and scream into the playground.

Hewson’s post is about how authors promote themselves on the internet – specifically tricks that artificially boost an author’s online standing (like Amazon sock puppetry).

If I make it off the starting block you should know there are things I won’t do:

  • review my work
  • respond to others’ reviews of my work
  • make quality claims about my work
  • write under my real name
  • beg, plead, cajole
  • seek to prove my skill in any way except the most rigorous
  • supplant artistic merit with nepotism – I have friends who are publishing professionals, and they hold me to higher standards than strangers

The horse race is a misleading metaphor – I fool myself sometimes that there’s a big finale. My career path is a dance routine rather than a sprint: every footfall needs to follow the plan or the entire thing is ruined.

My pride is entirely tied up in my skill as a writer – so at every opportunity I peel myself away from my writing and leave it bare and shivering on the podium for everyone to stare at. I don’t apologise for it; I don’t make excuses for it. If it’s deformed or sickly I take it back under my wing and cure its maladies.

But hell, it doesn’t upset me when other people cover up their shitty prose with promotional efforts. I’m a misanthrope – I find it hugely entertaining. Please keep doing it.