The Internet can be a challenge for writers. We have to avoid its distractions while writing, only to be besieged with expectations that we will utilize it to promote our books. Writers are thrust into a semi-public life when we publish and have to contend with people saying all sorts of things about us and our books, which can be thrilling on the one hand and unnerving on the other.
How should writers navigate this world? I talked with Sarah McCarry, author of the brilliant novel All Our Pretty Songs, and blogging star at The Rejectionist.
Nathan: There are so many pressures on authors these days to be on the Internet, do all The Social Media, to promote your own books because you can't necessarily count on your publisher, and oh by the way you have to write the books too, which is made all the more more difficult by all the distractions. Do you think writers are better off with social media and the Internet or are we all tweeting while Rome burns?
Sarah: Ha! You think because I am a Pessimist you can provoke me into a Franzenesque condemnation of the kids today and their platforms, but there you are mistaken, sirrah. I like to approach social media as a kind of mutual aid arrangement; I love promoting other people's work and building connections with other writers and like-minded humans. But it's definitely challenging to put on one's little marketing hat and suddenly be all like ACTUALLY CAN EVERYONE PLEASE BUY MY BOOK, ALSO. I'm not very good at it, to tell you the truth. And I am somewhat suspicious of most of the more conventional social promotion activities that many publishers push, like blog tours and book trailers and goodreads giveaways and what have you--I mean, if you enjoy that stuff, absolutely do it, but I would be pretty surprised if many of those tactics had any real impact on book sales. I find my own energy is more usefully spent elsewhere.
Nathan: What I find interesting about your Internet presence is that you are someone who embraced social media very early and I originally met you because we were blog friends, and yet I know you to be very ambivalent at best about e-books, cell phones that do things other than tell time, and the multinational corporations that are speeding those things along. How do you differentiate between the types of technology to embrace and those to be wary of?