It’s been a long time since my last BigOther post, but I hope to make up for it, a bit, in the next week or three. My apologies for the somewhat promotional aspect of this post, yet, as you’ll see, that bit is built into the topic.
I also would like to extend the invite for any other BigOther contributors to join in, and post your own entry, if you like.
When the first invitation to participate in the author-promotion meme called “The Next Big Thing…” hit my inbox, my first reaction was to offer a kind, “No thanks.” When the second came, less than an hour later, I took a closer look.
The idea is simple: an author completes and posts a self-interview, tags writers who will do the same interview approximately one week later. The loving vibes spread, as a Chicago-writer friend noted to me via email, in the form of a “Ponzi promotion.”
Yep, it’s a chain letter, sort of. While I have never been one for chain letters, this is not a chain where you must engage in a private act of letter-writing futility nor simply forward the special offer from Bill Gates to beta-test his email service.
No, you self-promote; mention how you picked up the chain and whom you’ve tagged for future glory. I suppose the entire roster of participants eventually raises the level of the discourse from crass self-promotion to a thing everyone cool is doing. I imagine the space where that line changes, from one reader or participant to the next, remains open to serious debate. I wondered, as I sent out my invitation for a future tag to a slate of writers I admire — some of whom chose not to play — whether others would perceive this enterprise as either an opportunity to promote their work unbounded by the usual accusations of self-promotion, or a thing too close to the stigma of many self-published or vanity enterprises.
Of course, I realize that’s it 2013, and an active social network presence is essential for most writers. And yet, I’m 38 and no stranger to this internet-thing-that-lets-you-do-stuff-on-computers, but I have noticed a near-constant talking point of many writers of my generation and older: Anxiety with the intensity of social networking expectations for promotion of one’s own work, with curmudgeonly recourse to J.D. Salinger-style laments about privacy and the almost-fascist importance of “the work.”
I share this anxiety only to the extent that I also lament the amount of time I spend staring at screens, and often feel unable to put them down, and therefore wish that there were ways to minimize this screen time when “working it” for a new book. It’s not that I think I am missing out on some exciting happening in my own yard late at night (raccoon family, let’s just agree to disagree), or that I am taking time away from my children, it’s just that my entire sense of “relaxation” is geared almost entirely to electronic pursuits.
I suspect I am not alone.