Don't get me wrong, I want people to buy my books. I want people to read my work, I really do. I write because I love creating worlds, characters, settings, dialogue, emotions. And I'm good at it. I've won a few awards, got some great reviews without too much effort, and worked with some wonderful authors and publishers, all who enjoy taking me on because I care about the quality of my work.
But I'm not easy to work with when the end goal is "bestseller." I hate advertisements. When they come on the radio, I switch the station, when they roll across my screen, I close the window I had open. No recipe, article or story is so important to me that I'll deal with an intrusive add that covers half the article I'm trying to scroll through. I don't have a tv; commercials actually make me physically angry. When I'm at my parent's house and my children run the chorus of "I want that," an anthem that goes hand in hand with the deluge of adds that pop up during children's shows, I grit my teeth.
There's not a time when we, as a society, are online, on our phone, on the tv, listening to the radio, at the store, driving, that we aren't being sold to. It makes me sad to be a part of that flood.
Every friend I have on Facebook and Twitter is a salesperson, now. I know that everyone is just doing the best they can to provide for their family, and I don't blame them. I just don't want to be a friend making friends in order to sell them something. It's hard for me to make and keep friends as it is. I'm skeptical of people, not mentally steady and can be standoffish. The constant sales pitches have made this worse.
My novels take years to write, in between my mood swings, mothering, full-time job, house cleaning, pet care and being a partner. I use hard-earned money to make my work shine, get the books edited, formatted, and looking nice. I put hours of labor, daily, into what I do. I believe my work is worth buying and I have a small group of fans who agree, and who buy them because they love my words. And that is a precious feeling. I appreciate that so much.
I understand that some people may never read my work if I don't take part in advertising it. I know that's why many of my friends put forth equal if not more effort into advertising their work. But it takes time away from what I want to do, one of the things that brings me true peace: writing. And it replaces it with another fucking chore, something that makes me crazier than I already am (fuck it; I can call my bi-polar mind crazy if I want because it's my crazy): advertising.
Call it marketing; that's fine. I don't care what you call it. And I don't care to hear this or that reason why I ought to just get over it and do it. I can make a choice, a choice others might not be willing to make: I can write books, enjoy writing them, and not inundate my feed with hints of them in this or that post about "depression." I know how to subtly create me as an author people with mood disorders, fantasy fanatics, and women might pick out of a pile. But I don't feel right about it.
I can't explain why I don't. It is just another thing that brings me down. So, lately, I've made the choice not to work up the bestseller ranks, possibly let my work fall to anonymity. And I'm okay with that choice. Sixty percent of my joy comes in creation of the work, ten more in editing it and making it shine, thirty percent is knowing that someone will appreciate it. I hope at least a few people do, but that other 70 percent still brings me a lot of joy.
Booksellers aren't okay with this. Publishers are cringing right now. I understand that. It's their job to make money on books. Even a lot of my author friends aren't alright with my decision to be silent. I get why. They want people to experience their work, and they work hard to make sure they're marketing the smart way.
For many of them it's a job. And they enjoy their job. Some people are good at writing quickly, marketing their strengths, getting their circle of friends/readers/relatives to give them a boost. And I'm happy for anyone who is happy so doing.
But I'm not. It makes me miserable. I don't like my writing to be another job.
For me, it's an obsession, a passion, a piece of my soul. It's only a job if I make it one. I already have too many jobs. I don't want to take my "me" activity and make it "work."
Writing's what I'm good at, sure, but I'm good at a lot of things. I'm a good teacher; I'm a fast learning; I'm a multi-tasker; I'm good at delegating, planning, thinking on my feet. I could even be good at advertising, but I don't want to be. So I doubt I ever will be. I apologize to my publishers on that front. You don't have to take me on. I'll do it on my own because I can. Like I said, I'm good at a lot of things.
You may ask, "If you don't care about making money, why not give your books away for free?" First, I didn't say I don't want to make money, just that it's not likely I will without participating in the advertising I loathe.
Mostly, I don't give my books away for free because I don't think it's right to berate the labor I put into my work, nor the work of others who work their asses off to make money writing (even if I'm not one of them).
How about you spend hours on a labor of love and I tell you: If you don't want to advertise this, you might as well just give it to me for free. That's a dick move. Just because an artist doesn't want to promote herself doesn't mean that her work isn't worth anything.
I understand that I live in a capitalist country in a larger global society that is increasingly capitalist. I realize that my country is run like a business. But not all aspects of my life have to be. I am sorry if this upsets others, those who are working with the system and doing what they can to make it a profitable enterprise. I'm not passing judgement; I'm just not interested in doing it.
Buy my work or don't. I'll still write it, and I might even write if faster if I'm not worried about advertising it.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.