Guest bloggery: WhileÂ one of Angela’s personalities isÂ arguing with Evil Monkey about who pays for the coffee, another other part is over here, hopefully posting something useful … other personalities are variously conducting a shoe-shine business in New Orleans, drinking coffee in Melbourne and complaining about the weather, and planning a jewellery heist in Paris (wherein I will ultimately be caught due to the permanent nose print I left on the glass surrounding the French Crown jewels) …
I work in a writers centre dealing on a daily basis with – surprise – writers. Some days are great: people have intelligent questions, take advice, succeed. Other days, I feel like I’m chasing my tail, talking to myself, being punished by The Universe … and I start to think ‘If I smack my head against the wall hard enough, it will all go away.’ One of the things I see a lot is writers madly self-promoting … without having written so much as a word on a cocktail napkinÂ or published even a short story or an opinion piece. Oh, they have ‘platform’ – but then, so do many of my shoes – but they have no product. And the fact that this is a problem seems to escape many of them.
And so, may I present a repost of Pondering, something I wrote last February when my brain was ‘sploding …
â€¦ the idea of self-promotion, something with which a lot ofÂ writers are quite uncomfortable.
Iâ€™ve just finished writing an article for the next edition of the Australian Writerâ€™s Marketplace on finding a literary agent â€¦ one of the points I put in there was â€˜Write first, agent secondâ€™.
If youâ€™re approaching a literary agent, you need to have a product to offer her/him. The agent is running a business, the business of selling your book to a publisher, who then sells the book to readers â€¦ and the happy outcome of all this is an income for everyone. Huzzah, puddings for all. Yet I still receive queries at least once a week from people who say â€˜Iâ€™ve been thinking about writing and I need a literary agent.â€™
Well, why? You have no product to present. You got nuthinâ€™, buddy. So, write first, agent second. And trying to find an agent in Australia? There are about 20 operating … count ’em, 20. You really need to be able to make yourself stand out.
Similarly, Iâ€™m getting a bit perplexed by newbie writers who are creating webpages for themselves, stalking other writers on FBÂ and the like in order to â€˜promoteâ€™ themselves â€¦ when they have no writing. No publications out there for a reader to go and look at â€¦ some post their writing on the site and thatâ€™s fine â€¦ but those who donâ€™t have anything there but are madly promoting themselves are a puzzle to me.
You need to have a product. You need to build a reputation based on your writing. If youâ€™re a Mafia-hitman-in-training, then surely yourÂ resume should have some instances of actually putting horse heads in beds, rather than simply saying â€œI totally want to be a Mafia hitman and put horse heads in peopleâ€™s beds, Mr Gotti.â€ Surely one must show a record of achievement.
Otherwise, whereâ€™s the substance of you as a writer? Youâ€™re just Paris Hilton, all surface, all self-pimping, no depth, no achievement. Why bother?