As an author, I was advised by tons of people to have an author FB page as well as a newsletter. Those are good ideas and I have both. It’s a great way to keep people informed about what I’m doing as well as preserve my private page for generally non-professional asshattery.
But the understanding seems to be that I need to devote hours and hours to both page and newsletter, posting constantly to “keep interest” and to generate page views and likes. But I was never very good at chasing popularity. I’m lazy. Plus, I feel gross chasing after admiration. More than gross, it makes me feel all stabby and ragey. Why can’t I just write things and people can seek me out if they like what I write? Apparently this isn’t how writing works in the 21st century. It seems that I need to develop a “brand”. There are all kinds of amazing coaches out there who can help you do this but the problem is twofold – one, that this takes an enormous amount of time away from writing, and two, that branding, essentially being marketing, is never really going to be about a writer and their ideas but more about subjugating those ideas to market trends and base desires.
What kind of “branding” would ever really work for me? If my work could be distilled down to a single idea or theme, it would probably be that of ignoring systems of power and domination as a means to self-knowledge. How do you brand that? I’d become a much more palatable thing, a sort of toothless “girl power” rebel with a stylized logo.
How do you brand someone who is currently writing this blog post on her phone as she sits on the couch in her pajamas, hair unwashed, teeth unbrushed, at 3pm? Someone who sure as shit won’t even edit this before going live? Will I get a sort of cutesy shabby chic personna? The lovable Cathyesque “real woman” treatment? Maybe my logo will be a cartoon frazzle haired woman.
I did try for a little while though. I dutifully sent out my newsletter once a month and I set up a Facebook group based on subjects I write about. But it wasn’t really sustainable. Whether it’s just my personality or a penchant for self-destruction, I just couldn’t keep up. I’d open my laptop and just feel the seretonin levels dropping. I hated it. I hated the idea of getting sucked into the “like” machine on Facebook. I felt like a whore chasing those likes, seeking the momentary admiration of strangers. I belong to a Facebook group for women writers where once a week we are encouraged to post a link to our page for other authors to like. No one looks to see what you write. They just click like. And now I can’t look at an author’s page anymore without knowing that at least half, if not more, of their followers don’t give a fuck about them or what they write, don’t even KNOW what they write.
I get it though. I absolutely get why authors get sucked into the machine. If you want to write full time you HAVE to submit to the market. I don’t (always) fault people for doing this. But, for me, I’d rather keep my mind free and my life simple, even if it means answering phones for part of the week, even if it means remaining obscure.
I still have my newsletter and my Facebook page. I think both are incredibly useful tools. But you won’t be hearing from me unless I have anything useful to say.