Authors, Social Media and the Allure of Magical Thinking

Editorial by Daniel Kalder

So anyway, I’ve got a great idea. Times are hard for publishers, therefore publicists should write books. No, really: they know what’s hot better than anyone. So they should write — maybe Harry Potter knock — offs like Percy Jackson, or political hate books on the villain of the hour. It doesn’t matter — just write something hot. What’s that? Writing and promoting require entirely different skill sets? Boo-hoo. Publicists will have to adapt if they want to keep their jobs. Oh yeah, and they should do this extra work for free.

Does that sound ridiculous to you? That’s because it is — which is why I always feel slightly skeptical when I read editorials from publishing professionals exhorting writers to perform the reverse metamorphosis. Yes, these pieces are often very inspiring. Last week’s editorial by Betsy Lerner“Should I Tweet?” was excellent and contained much good advice. But to attain the right level of fist bumping feel-good magic, it is necessary to elide some inconvenient truths:

1) Authors are often very weird people.
2) As JG Ballard observed, authors are not only weird but can also be very boring.
3) Authors may be naturally retiring souls and thus psychologically unable to puff their own (perhaps imagined) accomplishments.
4) Most authors lack substantial media contacts.
5) Authors may actually have jobs and children and thus not be able to take on a second, unpaid time-consuming job.

All of the above points are substantial obstacles faced by the author hopeful of mutating into a PR and communications professional.

Tough! It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and authors must learn new tricks if they don’t want their books to die. And in fact, in spite of the six obstacles listed above, I agree. Publishers don’t do market research. Publicists are overworked and underfunded. Fido must learn to perform tasks for which nature never intended him. Walk on your hind legs, Fido! Dance, Fido!

Whoever said life was fair?

Read the rest of this editorial at Authors, Social Media and the Allure of Magical Thinking.