I headed to Amsterdam yesterday for Dan Brown’s talk at the Paradiso. Well, as long as I was in the city anyway, I might as well go to Waterstone’s and spend those lovely book gift cards I’d received for my birthday. I’ve been waiting for Springsteen’s autobiography, the most aptly titled Born to Run, to appear in paperback. It took some digging (because I didn’t think to look in music instead of autobiographies *slaps head*), but I finally found a copy (and maybe a few other books as well).
I started thumbing through my copy while munching on my lunch before Dan Brown’s presentation. I had already been musing about how remarkable it is to go to a presentation from a writer in a large venue with a sold-out crowd. (The Paradiso is a former church now used for concerts.) That’s not what we writers do. No, we hide in the shadows in our pajamas with unwashed hair while staring at a blank computer screen.
We are not performing artists like Springsteen. Springsteen writes in the foreword in response the question about how he achieved fame and fortune:
DNA, natural ability, study of craft, development of and devotion to an aesthetic philosophy, naked desire for … fame? … love? … admiration? … attention? … women? … sex? … and oh, yeah … a buck.
These are some of the elements that will come in handy should you come face-to-face with eighty thousand (or eighty) screaming rock ‘n’ rock fans …
~ Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
Those words stopped me. Seriously, I got out my phone and took a picture of them. Not only can I never imagine standing in front of eighty-thousand fans, screaming or not, but I don’t have a naked desire for fame, love, attention, (wo)men, sex… Oh sure, I’d like to make a buck or two. And a little admiration wouldn’t go to waste either. But fame? Attention? Adoring men? Sex? I’m a writer, not a rock star.
With the exception of a few well-known writers whose novels have been adapted to the silver screen thus bringing their work to even larger audiences, writers are not performing artists. We don’t use our voices or bodies to convey our artistic message in front of an audience. But (you knew there was a but coming) in today’s digital era, we big ‘ol scaredy-cat writers are being forced to come out of our hidey-holes.
If you are self-published (or maybe if you aren’t), you are forced to create a writer platform if you want to sell books. In addition to having a website, you need to not only be on social media but be visible on several social media platforms. And you can’t just talk about your books. Oh no. Potential readers don’t want that. Nope. They want to learn about you. *Swallows large frog that suddenly appeared in her throat.* The days of writers hiding away in a small town in the New England region are, without a doubt, over.
I may never achieve the fame of Bruce Springsteen (or Dan Brown for that matter), but I’ve slowly but surely climbed out my writer hidey-hole and become more socially visible. With reluctance, I admit that the more visible I am with my writer platform, the more books I sell. If I figure out how to reach the Dan Brown fame-level, I’ll let you know (probably in a book you have to buy).