There’s a lot to get used to in this new world of indie publishing.
Take interviews. They used to be part of the daydream of getting published. One day, after you’d received glowing reviews on your third or fourth book, after you’d been accepted into the elite circle of known and accomplished writers, someone, maybe a newspaper reporter, would call you for an interview.
You’d be on guard, of course, because you’d heard they could trick you or twist your words. And if you met over breakfast or lunch, you’d be careful not to order something messy.
A few weeks later, there you’d be, in the Style or Entertainment Section, below the fold, with a photo in front of your bookshelves holding your cat. A writer.
But the point was, you’d earned the interview. Through your work. Either several well-written books or one breakthrough, debut novel that was breathtaking.
In other words, an interview meant something. It not only meant you’d achieved something in your writing, it also meant that people would be interested in learning more about you. Readers who’d loved your book, other authors who hoped to achieve the same success.
The Selfie Interview
Cut to today’s world and it’s a whole different story. You can interview yourself on your blog or on Smashwords or in your press release that you send out yourself. Or you can answer pat interview questions on hundreds of book-promoting websites.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first book, if you’re only beginning to gain readers, if your book, to be honest, isn’t all that great--you get an interview. And your interview gets published.
You get to reveal your inspiration. Your favorite books. Your thoughts on life and literature, even philosophy and the economy if you want.
Years ago I read an excellent article in Esquire and unfortunately never saved it. It was about the difference between being serious about yourself and taking yourself too seriously. The writer said it better than I can, but the gist was that it’s okay to be serious about your work, to set aside time to write, to keep on improving, but not so much to take yourself as a “Writer” too seriously. Self-inflation gets in the way of being creative.
When I read through these current “interviews,” I keep thinking about that article. So many writers taking themselves so seriously so soon in their careers. So eager to talk about their influences and where they came up with titles for their books, what they like best about writing, and what writers they admire. As if there’s an audience.
Much as I love most of what’s happening in publishing today, there are aspects of it that give me pause. How can a writer keep on improving if he or she is already granted the privileges that used to come from really learning what it takes to write a really good book?
To answer my own question, building a platform isn’t the same as honing your craft. Maybe it’s not serving anyone--readers, writers, publishers--to place so much emphasis on marketing so soon in a writer’s career. Good books are still worth much more than great platforms.
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