The joy of being a writer is that you can spend a lot of time at home, safe in your own little world, trying to create something meaningful and communicate through the best way possible, that is: through words on a page.
Many writers choose this career because either a) they're shy or b) they prefer their own company anyway or c) the world seems a crazy mixed up place that doesn't need much of their involvement.
I've spent time in the past with large groups of people who desperately need each other's company - and often - to even begin to function.
I've known unfortunate souls that cry unceasingly when they have no friends to call on, or live in torment until they can chat with another. It's called being gregarious, apparently.
Thankfully, like most writers, I'm not so afflicted.
I've always liked my own company - even when I craved fame in my twenties. I used to forsake the local bars in preference to my guitar or my notebook. Many creative people are like that. We love humanity as a concept but aren't so impressed with the actual process of being a part of it.
So it comes as a great shock to writers nowadays that they are expected to not only write but then miraculously become a shameless self promoter, bouncing around like some Ritalin enhanced extrovert, telling the world about themselves and their work - and supposedly enjoying it!
Writers Do It In Private
Writing is not a spectator sport. If it was, we'd have Saturday Night Writing Live or somesuch on TV. Writers have no choice but to spend time alone - which has its own rewards - but that doesn't necessarily endear ourselves to the media.
So how then are we supposed to suddenly change character and go out and actively promote ourselves?
Publishers and agents, as a matter of course, ask us, "What do you do to promote yourself?" To be a writer is apparently not enough. We have to draw attention to ourselves too - something most writers actively avoid!
A famous writer said to me recently that, despite his acute shyness, he found that media people seemed to find him fascinating. "I only wish I was," he told me. "I spend all of my time writing. How interesting can that make me?"
I know what he means. You probably do too.
To the average writer, the interesting stuff is what's on the page. But the media needs people...
What's the Answer?
My feeling has always been that if writers are to do things that draw attention to themselves, it should be on their own terms
So here are some easy ways to promote yourself from the safety of your own home:
1. Use Press Releases
I use two methods. I have a list of email addresses and fax numbers of various media outlets. If I'm doing a localised press release, I'll use that. Otherwise I use PR Web, to blitz the world about something I'm doing. Either method ensures publicity without the need for me to actually speak to anyone.
2. Have a Website, Blog, MySpace, Facebook Page etc
Obvious this. A Net presence allows people to find out about you without the need to call you and ask questions. You can even thwart the media's initial intrusions by:
3. Having a Readymade Press Pack
This allows you to have all the questions anyone in the media might ask you, already answered. A press pack should also contain recent glamor shots of you and anything else you think might make an interesting angle for a news reporter. Put the link to your press pack on your website, free to download.
4. Use an Assistant
All celebrities have one. Why shouldn't you? The media doesn't have to know it's your mum or a good friend. Get someone to fend your calls and tell people you're busy, uh, writing is a good one. Either way, put distance between you and the media - they'll think you're more fascinating if you do!
5. For Interviews, use Technology
If someone wants to interview you, use the phone or Skype or a webcam. It's much easier to talk on the radio or give a lecture to a school etc if you're doing it from home. You can always use the old excuse that you're too busy to make the venue - or your chauffeur is sick, whatever - and you'll save heaps in gas too.
And if someone is absolutely desperate to interview you in person, tell them they can come to you! TV crews get paid expenses for these things and news reporters like a day out. Make them work to get you on tape and they're more likely to use your interview anyway.
Hope this helps
(c) Rob Parnell