3.30.2012

Writerly Navel Gazing in Three Parts

Part One

There has been a huge shift in the publishing industry over the past few years; authors are responsible for a good portion of our own promotion. The new school of marketing claims people would rather hear from authors directly, yadda yadda yadda.

So, I have been thinking a lot about promoting my book. And (obviously) actually promoting it. I've learned that this leg of the publishing journey is rather exhausting - even worse than the nitty-gritty revisions I was working on during maternity leave (which is to say: the nitty-gritty revisions I was working on with a newborn strapped to my chest and a three-year-old asking for more goldfish crackers).

Inasmuch as book promotion is me expressing my very real excitement that I WROTE A BOOK! AND IT HAS THIS AWESOME COVER! AND DID YOU SEE WHO ENDORSED IT!?, I'm okay. I really do feel this incredible excitement and am fairly sure that there are people who read this who are excited with/for me. But I very much dislike the sensation that there's, like, a new channel on any day a beautiful change (the blog): the shopping network for Any Day a Beautiful Change (the book).

It feels skeevy to self-promote. Which is why I was very grateful for Donald Miller's blog post yesterday, Some Thoughts on Self Promotion and Why Arrogant People Think It's Wrong. Among other things, he says: I used to think I was humble, but then I realized I didn’t want to be one of those info-mercial guys and so my motivation was anything but humility. I was the opposite, I was proud. Too proud and too cool to sell anything.

Snap, Donald Miller. Snap.

He also says he self-promotes because he believes in his work; it helps people. I hope I can say the same thing.

Part Two

I briefly referred, in Part One, to the people who read this. Sitemeter reassures me that this little blog still has a modest readership, and there are way more subscribers than there used to be. But I don't have a strong sense of who is reading this anymore - not the way I did back in the blogging heyday, when there were ongoing conversations in the comments section. I miss that interactivity.

Books don't have comment sections at all.

Reader, who are you? The writer wonders.

Part Three

What kind of writer am I, anyway? I've written this book. There's theology in it, but it isn't a theology book. It was recently the 54th most popular book in the Church Leadership section on Amazon, but you would not read it to learn about leadership techniques. It's about marriage, but not in a Five Love Languages kind of way; it's about parenting, but not in a Ministry of Motherhood kind of way.

It's a memoir, more or less.

Testimony.

I don't have a platform. I'm not marketing a program for making something better - your marriage, your church, your health, your faith, your toddler. I am an avid consumer of those books and blogs, personally and professionally. Maybe I would feel less ambivalent about marketing if I were selling a practical idea than, essentially, the story of my life.

One of the questions I tried to answer for my author Q&A was "What do you hope readers will take away from your book?" I sat there thinking, "I dunno..." for a good afternoon.

And then I found this essay by Richard Lischer, the author of a marvelous memoir. He writes, "The Divinity School includes Confessions and other memoirs and autobiographies in several areas of the curriculum because literary nonfiction evokes another, valuable kind of learning: not a rule but a fleshly instance of a rule. Not a definition of grace to be memorized, but the experience of grace as perceived through the window of another person’s life. Who is to say which comes first: the Rule or the Life? We read the stories of others and temporarily cross over to meet them. There we encounter another person’s experience of faith in a world very different from our own. Then we cross back into our own time and place of ministry, newly enriched by a deeper spiritual understanding and better prepared for our own life of faith."

Yes: that. That is what I hope. What an embarrassingly high-falutin' hope. But there it is.

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