Sometimes, just sometimes, I regret the publishing of my books. It's like this. I like writing for its own sake. I know I am no great literary artist. I don't aspire to that, but I do love writing and I very much enjoy the letters, emails and comments of appreciation I receive when people have read and enjoyed my books. The best ones are the unsolicited emails from people I don't know who write to me out of the blue. One such was a mail I received from a woman in the US who'd read the Skipper's Child. She told me her grandfather had been a Dutch skipper and she'd loved his stories about life on the waterways. For her, reading my book brought them all to life. I was very touched and her interest was the best reward I could have.
All the same, when you publish a book these days, you have to balance the writing with the marketing and this is something I'm finding difficult. I never know how exactly to strike the right note or how much to do. I'm just not comfortable with all this self-promotion. The funny thing is I like doing it for others but not for myself. But worse than that is the time it takes away from just writing. I've calculated that I spend around two hours a day on social media in an attempt to increase my 'author profile'. That's quite a lot to spend on Facebook, Twitter and blogging (I do the rounds on a daily basis), but in fact, it seems to be little compared with what others manage to do. The point is, though, I'd rather spend that time writing something new - like my new book, for instance. I've barely touched it in the last three weeks which depresses me. Then there's also the hours it takes to look for possible venues and businesses willing to give me space for talks and book discussion. This time issue is further exacerbated because I have a very busy job so time to spare is limited and precious. I won't go into details but there are many more demands than just the contact hours of teaching when you work on limited term contracts for delivering tailor made courses.
I've been thinking about all this in particular as my publishers, Sunpenny Publishing, have just asked all their authors to complete a kind of survey on what they do and what they can still do to improve their profiles. I understand the need for this and do my best to participate and work at it. All the same, I think longingly of the days when I just wrote for fun and didn't worry too much about promotion and sales. I miss that. Do any of you miss it too?
This is another thing I'd like to spend much more time doing:
Well, to finish this slightly plaintiff post (sorry), can I suggest that if you are interested in dipping into my books about life in Africa, life on the water and life on a smallholding in rural England, you can visit my author pages on Amazon.com or Lulu.com and read some extracts they have made available.
You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.