I Don’t Want To Offend Anyone, But…

There’s a fine line between self-promotion and narcissism.  There are some writers today, too many, who should bear this in mind when they take to Facebook, etcetera.  I won’t name any names, but their countless daily posts containing the dull minutiae of their work and/or extolling their own apparent genius guarantees that at least this reader will never seek out any of their work, no matter how good it might actually be.

These writers appear to forget that while a personal web page is their own domain, as it were, social networking sites do not exist for the sole purpose of their self-aggrandizement.  It’s a fucking disease, people, and it’s spreading fast.  Indeed, the more writers I add to my Friends list, the more I loathe Facebook and to some extent writing.  It seems to have become a necessary part of a lot of writer’s lives – to sell and/or promote their wares on these sites.  Hell, I do it myself – questioning the merits up to and then beyond the point I press ‘RETURN.’  What I do not do – or have stopped doing if I did do such things in the past – is post the following sort of things (note:  these are examples only, I’m not directly quoting anyone):

I just happened to read something I wrote the other day and, you know what, it’s really rather good.

Sorry, no, you didn’t happen to come across anything.  It’s been 30 minutes since your last post and you went looking for something to post about.

I wrote 3000 words today.  Look here’s a picture of what I wrote. 

Yep, the picture shows a piece of paper or a laptop screen with some words across it, either too indistinct to read or from a random page of the story.  What’s the point?  Does that get anyone excited – really?

Here’s a list of all the things I’ve achieved this year/month/day/hour. 

Fine, good.  But put it on your web page and let people who visit your page to read specifically about you and your achievements read it there.  Besides – a little perspective here – if you have achieved something of real merit, do you really have to tell everyone about it?

Hey, I’m in this new magazine or book.  It contains my story, [INSERT TITLE HERE]

So, what, it’s contains only your story?  Not much of a book then, is it?  Are there other writers in this book?  Oh, there are?  You wouldn’t know that, would you?

I could go on but I won’t.  I won’t even say I’m not guilty of this kind of thing either.  What I will say is I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of the game and I’m tired of playing it.  I hate Facebook, but it seems like a necessary evil these days.  Without it, you are to some extent out of the loop.  In addition, I see too many examples of nepotism, of “mates” publishing “mates” (Kickstarter has arguably made this situation worse), but that’s a whole other topic.

Writing used to be a solitary business, but in some areas, some, it is becoming increasingly social, political, and one-sided.  As if the odds weren’t stacked high enough, right?  I hate to sound like one of them –  the conspiracy theorists – but it’s how I see things at the moment.

Of course, the easy solution would be to leave Facebook (my presence is minimal nowadays anyway) or delete people of this ilk, and I have, many, many times, but I suspect that if I continued down that road I’d have very few writer friends left.  Indeed, I’d probably find myself deleted from some lists, too – and so on, until we’d reach a friendless conclusion, just us and our profile pages.  Which tells you everything you really need to know about Facebook, I suppose.  And people.

At least, some people.

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8 thoughts on “I Don’t Want To Offend Anyone, But…

  1. Ray Cluley

    I know what you mean, Steven, though I’m guilty too, to an extent. I would argue that we have to promote our work but you’re right to point out that if it’s a publication with other writers then it’s polite to mention them too. Besides, some Facebook ‘friends’ may be fans – it might be how they were ‘added’ in the first place – so it would be a wasted opportunity not to point out when you’ have work out. A little restraint is good though, when it come to promotion – I get fed up with the same plug each week, for example.

    Personally I quite like word count updates – other people getting on with it motivates me to do the same (oh no, so-and-so has done this many words and here I am faffing on Facebook) but I don’t need photographic proof! Nor am I a fan of extracts of works in progress – I believe in them for promotion regarding finished work, but not ‘look what I just did’.

    There’s an argument here for all art being narcissistic, I guess, but maybe that’s one to have over a beer some day! (I’m narcissistically assumed you’d like that, because I am awesome.)

    Reply
  2. Kenneth Jobe

    I’m not friends with many other writers of Facebook at this point, so I don’t see as much of it there, but Twitter is just as bad. One writer in particular comes to mind—I began to wonder if he had some bot tweeting for him, always sending out tweets to buy his book every few hours, with the occasional “motivational writer quote” thrown in. I began to think if this guy can’t be any more creative than this in the tweets he sends out, how creative could his book really be?

    Reply
  3. Brian G Ross

    Very good post – an inspired diatribe that is bang on the money for the most part. I used to think I was a self-centred writer until I saw what everyone else was doing on these social networks. At least I try to contain the love I have for my own work! It was one of the reasons I gave Facebook the elbow. I want to be successful on my own terms, not those as described by others.

    Ray – I actually thought ‘won;t’ was meant to be ironic 😉

    …by the way, my Twitter handle is [censored], and my website can be reached by [censored]. I have published numerous stories and novellas, and I have several publications coming out in the next few months, which include [censored].

    Thanks!

    Reply
  4. stevenjdines Post author

    Ray – As I said, I’ve done a lot of what I’m talking about here. I hold my hands up. It just feels a little desperate or overdone sometimes. I agree, the promotion of the same book on a daily or even weekly basis is another source of complaint for me. My point – if there was one – was that some of the relentless promotion becomes self-defeating in the end, putting off potential readers. Indeed, there are one or two writers for whom I had a LOT of respect, and now I won’t read them. You mention restraint, and that’s what I feel is needed more often than not. We probably already know that so-and-so is great, but do we need to be hit over the head with it several times a day? Please, no. And I’d gladly discuss it with you over a beer someday, sir 🙂

    Ken – I should stress it is not every writer. But one thing that concerns me is the amount of people who perhaps DO buy into the hype. Personally, I want my writing career to live or die based on the quality of the work, not based on my ability to promote. Which is why I’ll never be as successful as others, I suppose. So be it. I should also say I don’t have a problem with promotion, I just feel uncomfortable with how it sometimes dominates Facebook and, no doubt, Twitter.

    Brian – I just think a lot of the stuff on Facebook should be posted on personal blogs or web sites instead. On Facebook, it seems more in your face. Maybe I’m old fashioned, maybe I’m suffering the January blues, but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts.

    Reply
  5. Wayne Haag

    You know Steve, I think a lot writers/artists trying to get traction go through this phase, to greater or lessor degrees of course. Americans naturally ‘sell’ themselves, Aussies and no doubt Brits recoil at this behavior. A lot of it has to do with social media marketing and the so called rules that accompany the process. I realised that I’d rather be authentic and post when I want, which is usually infrequent, what I want, how I want and to hell with FB… I’m even questioning Twitter..

    But it’s getting that traction, the momentum required to not have to give a shit about social media and just write/paint etc.

    Kenneth, you’re right, a lot of these guys have automatic time released Tweets.

    Brian summed it up perfectly. “I want to be successful on my own terms, not those as described by others.”

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. stevenjdines Post author

      Thanks for dropping by, Wayne. I don’t often vent my frustration on here, but it had been a bad week/month for me and I felt I had to get some of it out in order to be able to move forward. In retrospect, I have little to no right to complain about such people or practices because I probably sent them a Friend Request in the first place. If I don’t like something I see on television I change the channel. If I don’t like what I see on a social media site I should probably look elsewhere or remove the, um,…irritant from my Friends list. 95% of people on these sites are fine, but typically it seems those who yell the loudest are the ones who are most often heard. Frustrating.

      Reply

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