Hangin’ With the Larbalesterfelds
As long as I’m doing the mad crazy book pimp thing, let me not neglect Scott Westerfeld, whose concluding volume of the Midnighters Trilogy, Blue Noon, comes out tomorrow (but is available to order off of Amazon today). The Midnighters books are excellent YA, but you don’t have to be an angst-ridden teen to enjoy them (it just, you know, helps). Here in Scalzi-land we’ve been feeding the Midnighters books to our niece after we’re done reading them, you know, to hook another kid. It seems to have worked. Read them now before they’re turned into a TV series; that way you can say were into them when they were still in the “keepin’ it real, old school” phase.
And as long as I’ve pinged Scott, let me also ping his hubby Justine Larbalestier, who is also a fabulous YA writer and whose upcoming book Magic Lessons I will undoubtedly pimp here in another 17 days. Today, however, Justine’s thinking on self-promoting authors, and where the fine line is between appropriate and useful self-promotion and just being an annoying twit about it. This is indeed something that any writer with half a brain worries about — on one hand, how can you expect anyone to promote your work if you won’t promote yourself? But on the other hand, no one likes a jerk who can do nothing but talk about his or her own work, to the exclusion of every other topic.
I don’t want to go into this too deeply here because I think you all should visit Justine’s site and comment there, but I think here are three things I would say:
1. For everyone but authors: First-time authors/novelists get a pass. Because you know what? It’s their first time. For God’s sake, be just a little extra-tolerant and let them enjoy the moment. You can give them the “dude, you’re being a dick” speech if they’re still pulling the same stunts with book #2.
2. That said: First-time authors, try to have a sense of scale, or at the very least, keep your navel-gazing to a single, safe place — like, for example, your own blog. Some of you may recall that January 2005 was “All Old Man’s War, All The Time” here on the Whatever, which annoyed at least one other science fiction writer something fierce. But, one, it was my first novel and I was excited about it and anyone telling me to calm down about it could be invited to kiss my ass (see point number one above). Two, it was all on my site and not much of anywhere else. If you can’t do a little happy dance in your own home, virtual or otherwise, where can you? Out in the real world, however, I tried to keep the megalomania to a dull roar.
3. Authors on their second book and thereafter: If you’re worried about excessive auto-pimping, there’s a simple and equitable solution, which is that for every time you pimp yourself in any form, you pimp another writer before you pimp yourself again. Doesn’t have to be the same other writer each time, mind you. Spread the love around, friend. Also, of course, be sincere about your pimpage; don’t just name-check some random writer dude so you can start the conversational mad rush back to you, you, you. People aren’t stupid. They’ll figure that one out. Fortunately, most writers know other writers with whom they are friends and/or whose work they admire. There’s always someone to give writerly love to.
Pimping other writers does two things: first it keeps you from looking like an irritating egotistical git, and second it starts the virtuous karmic cycle of writerly regard, in which other writers will offer up the same consideration to you. So, in short, pimp onto others as you would have them pimp unto you (be very aware, however, that this should not be a “quid pro quo” thing — i.e., if you pimp someone and then keep score to see if they pimp you back, you lose all your writer karma points and in your next life you come back as a slush pile reader. Oh, stop with the screaming. You can avoid this fate).
Anyway, that’s how I think one deals with self-promotion.