Today, while reading A Biography of Loneliness, by Fay Bound Alberti, I found a quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary which she’d used as a chapter epigraph:
“I have entered into a sanctuary; a nunnery; had a religious retreat; of great agony once; and always some terror; so afraid one is of loneliness; of seeing to the bottom of the vessel. That is one of the experiences I have had here in some Augusts; and got then to a consciousness of what I call ‘reality’: a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or the sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall rest and continue to exist.”
That’s a plethora of semicolons!
I felt bold when I once used two semicolons in a sentence.
Do you think she’d get away with it today?
Wouldn’t a 21st-century editor wield their red pen?
Apologies to The Stone Roses for stealing the title of one of their songs from their breakout album, which I acquired yesterday at a car boot sale. I hadn’t listened to it for a while, but I wanna be adored made me think about how we sell ourselves as writers. Lead singer Ian Brown wrote the song to admit that he’d sold out, by going for a more commercial sound—to be liked by more music fans.
In the 21st-century, we’re expected to share details of our lives as part of the process of marketing our writing. Having a blog and a website devoted to our books is practically compulsory, expected by one’s literary agent, publisher and readers. And, what about your social media posts, where you scintillate and captivate new readers?
No one likes a grouch, however good their writing. You have to play nice, at least occasionally when interviewed, if you’re going to improve sales of your books. Some people are naturally charming while retaining a depth of intelligence that shows they’re not being smarmy. I think of J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Walter Mosley and Jeanette Winterson when I say this. I’m sure that you can think of other examples of accessible authors who you enjoy hearing talking about the creative process.
I’ve spent most of 2019 building an author platform, attempting to come across as nice, for want of a better word, as well as someone worth reading. Having spent the last decade living in a flat at a petrol station, socialising and dating not at all, my life has been devoted to reading and writing. I have lots of imaginary friends! The concept of being adored is laughable, but whether I self-publish my Cornish Detective series or I get picked up by Hodder & Stoughton’s The Future Bookshelf publishing opportunity, I need to ingratiate myself with potential readers.
Some will hate my books, others will think them OK, while a few may adore them. And me?
It would be a strange situation to be in, where your fans believed in you more than you believed in yourself, demanding more and more from you.
Best not to take yourself too seriously. Neil Gaiman put it well in an interview:
“You have a very open relationship with your fans.”
“Yes. We have an open relationship. Obviously, they can see other authors if they want, and I can see other readers.”
I haven’t dated in ten years, so naughtiness has been absent from my life, but I’ve just put my foot in it with Facebook.
To celebrate becoming a pensioner in July, I bought a copy of Nick Cave’s Push The Sky Away album on eBay. I love the title track, which is a song of hope. It kept playing in my mind, as I slogged through building a blog and a website devoted to my crime novel series.
The cover shows him ordering his ex-model wife Susie Bick from the room…she’s totally nude.
It was an impromptu shot snapped by the photographer between posed sessions, which they preferred for the cover.
I’d played the song on YouTube, so decided to post it on Facebook. I chose a full-length version, not thinking too much about the nudity, for the shot was taken from 30′ away and you can’t see anything much.
It’s a running joke that Mark Zuckerberg is terrified of nipples, as so many innocent pics featuring them have been banned.
Apparently, he’s scared of pubic hair too, for though Susie Bick’s minge is barely discernible, it got my post shunted off into the sin bin for contravening Facebook’s Community Standards. A few pixels of pubes made me naughty again!
His prediction struck me as wise in an Ozymandias way:
But, it neatly deflected attention from criticism that Amazon was expanding too fast and needed to be more tightly regulated owing to their absurd power over markets—it’s reckoned that 48% of all online sales in the USA in 2019 will be from Amazon.
If you’re crushing the opposition as a business, there may well be bargains for buyers, but there are detrimental knock-on effects. In Cornwall, where I live, I know of many high streets that are plagued with empty shop units, owing to a huge supermarket being built on the edge of town.
Amazon, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for plagiarism and promoting extreme, offensive and illegal viewpoints. Attempting to police what’s uploaded to their sites is difficult. The Plagiarism Today article mentions a figure of 3,000 hours of content being uploaded to YouTube every hour. Who’s going to watch such vast amounts of footage on social media sites to decide if it contravenes regulations?
The answer is low-paid workers who wind up with PTSD:
Such hideousness makes any concerns I have pale into insignificance, but as writers, we should still be watchful.
Really, there’s not a lot we can do to prevent someone ripping us off by plagiarising our books, certainly if it happens in a foreign language. I’ve previously mentioned how an author acquaintance was told by friends travelling in India and China that her MG stories had been counterfeited. One of her friends had designed the book covers, which she noticed on a market stall, the heads changed to have Asian features. They were also available on Amazon.
Although I’ve had profiles on most social media sites for a long time, I’m currently delving into the intricacies of how they work. Facebook bewilders me in many ways, for it operates in a slow and obstructive way, yet as a parasite trading on the insecurities of users who post content for free adding to Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth it’s a brilliant con trick—as well as being an intelligence agency that rivals the FBI, CIA and MI5.
I’m also in the process of building a business page on Facebook for my crime novels, which I’ve put in maintenance mode, so it’s not searchable. This state is agitating Facebook, who keep on reminding me to make it go live, as well as pushing me to buy ad space. It’s fun baiting them!
Whatever you do on social media, don’t overshare. A friend was burgled last year, after revealing she was going away for two weeks holiday. She’d previously posted many photos showing her house, its windows, its door locks, no nearby neighbours and no burglar alarm. She had contents insurance, but her insurers checked her Facebook presence and only offered a partial payout.
How much do you use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon?
Has it been to your benefit as a person and as a writer?