Artist Bares Soul Regarding Marketing
I would rather have a root canal. Than have to do marketing.
I feel weary when I have to let people know when and where an
upcoming book-signing will be. (6 to 8 p.m., December 6th, at the
Books & Brews in Brownsburg, IN. There, I'm exhausted.)
I cringe when I have to tell you how
much I charge for my coloring
book, ($24, because it's hand-printed and hand-bound, I am
quick to explain. I am slower to mention that the scenes in it
will transport the color-er to two dozen wonderful places, full
of castles and gardens and mystery and stories. I am more
comfortable explaining drawbacks than advantages.)
People are very kind to us artists, almost like we're idiot
savants who must be treated gently. They are quick to say they
can't imagine where we come up with our ideas (in my case, talking
pigs! discover their great-great grandfather! has left them a
life-changing legacy!! See The
Piglys and the Hundred-Year Mystery for details.
It costs $16. It's been a hit with middle-readers, its intended
audience. But here's the thing: my brilliant friend Dr. Fair read
it five times, and had it at her bedside when she passed away.
That's the part I forget to mention on this one.)
People like to tell me they can't draw a straight line,
and frankly, neither can I; that's what rulers are for. They say
they don't know where I find the patience to stipple a
lawn's-worth of grass with a technical pen; I say I don't
have the patience to balance a checkbook. To these kind people I
also reply that for every ten talented and imaginative artists in
the world, there is (maybe) one person who has a gift for
marketing. Like I said, maybe.
My wonderful writers' group has one cherished member who
forges ahead with marketing, wowing the rest of us who muddle
through, relishing the pain of writing, but not so much the pain
of putting ourselves and our work on the line.
In Ken Burns' documentary on country music, Marty Stuart explains
its success by saying the city of Nashville always had a guitar in
one hand, and a (business-savvy) briefcase in the other.
Otherwise, it all would have folded in on itself, long ago. They
were never shy about marketing.
Here's a glimmer of hope: I love to toss my work out to the world
on social media. And I don't worry too much about how many "likes"
it gets, although I appreciate every single one of them (so please
don't stop liking my stuff.) But what really motivates me is the
fun of putting thoughts and sketches out in the realm of real
people, and seeing where the journey takes me. The process of
writing posts like this one led to my newest book (The
Art of Noticing, $10) which is a collection of
things I put online in 2017. Then, once again exhausted, I took
almost two years off from writing. Me & Kanye West.
I guess the bottom line, now that I've probed around the painful
"marketing" corner of my soul, is that I love sharing my work, but
don't love the process of turning it into a transaction. I feel
like the shyster in the trench coat lined with two-dollar watches.
Like most of the people in my writers' group, I will nonetheless
forge ahead, because I've just finished a NEW BOOK, Feathergill's
Fabulous Emporium, (no idea how much it will sell for,
as it is not yet in print.)
As always, thank you for reading, for "liking," for clicking and
commenting and doing all the internet-ty things that brighten an
artist's life. And, please do come out to that book signing Friday
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and I'll keep you posted on how this adventure continues!