Conflicted Artist Bares Soul Regarding Marketing

I would rather have a root canal. Than have to do marketing.

Storybook Neighborhood
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.
Pigly cover
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.

AON cover
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 night.

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