Fear of Marketing

I love to write–I hate to market. I can’t be alone in this, but all you ever read about in articles about writing are the success stories. People who were published because they learned how to promote themselves, through queries, submissions and networking.

All I’ve ever wanted to do was write, and I don’t even mind being left in my own little world in order to do so. But I admit that there’s a part of me that needs more: I want to be read. I want to make my mark on the world, no matter how small.

I have been published a few times, but being published at all is like a drug: once experienced, you want to experience it again. And again and again. And that’s besides the need you may have to make money. Like me, you just want to be read. The money is frosting on the cake.

I wouldn’t turn down the money, but what I really want is fame. I want to become a word-of-mouth writer, to have people recommend my writing to others. But I don’t take the steps necessary to be read. I’m overwhelmed by the marketing process.

First of all, I have trouble picking out suitable markets. If I find something before I write, I get twisted into knots trying to cater my writing to that publication. If I find a market for something I’ve already written, I’m afraid it’s not quite right and will just be rejected. And it’s not so much that I fear the rejections–okay, it is partly that. But mostly I need the feedback (which you don’t usually get in rejection letters anyway). I need encouragement and validation. Publication gives you that. Hiding your work under a bushel gets you nothing.

Almost all of us have special readers: friends, family, fellow writers. But it’s easy to dismiss their judgments because they know you and might not want to hurt your feelings. The opinions of editors and unknown readers carry more weight. I’d love to get those outside opinions–I crave them, as a matter of fact. That’s one reason I write for my blogs. But how do you get readers if they don’t know you’re there?

I don’t know how many times I’ve read that if your writing is good, you will eventually get published. I tend to think that my writing must not be any good, because I’m not getting published. It hardly ever occurs to me that I can’t get published unless I put my work out there. And not in some blog that people only discover by accident.

Don’t get me wrong: I love to write posts for my blogs. Because it gives me practice, it gives me an outlet for my writer and it gives me the illusion of being published. But that’s just it: it is an illusion. I didn’t have to pass muster with any editor or make money to prove that I’m a writer.

But I have to admit that I feel like the tree that falls in the forest: if there’s no one to hear, does it make any sound?

My Blogs

Most of the writing I’ve been doing these days is posting to my blogs. I actually have five, but rarely write in two of them. They are:
This one: miteypen.blogspot.com
ADD Women
German(e) and Human(e)

The first one is a feminist blog. I’ve considered myself a feminist since 1971 and lately have become much more interested in feminist issues. Recently I’ve been writing a lot about politics (what else?): Hillary, Sarah Palin, Obama, and mothers’ political movements.

The second one is about city living. I moved into the city (of Columbus, Ohio–yes, it is a city) about ten years ago and I love it. It’s not for everyone, but I use this blog to encourage those who are thinking about a similar move.

The third is about writing. I have been a writer all of my life, but only in the past sixteen years have I taken myself seriously as one. Still, I struggle with the whole process and that’s what this “sounding board” is all about.

The fourth is about women with ADD. I was diagnosed with ADD eight years ago, when I was 48. It’s not widely accepted that adults can have ADD, nor do most people think of it being something that females have very often. I like to shine a light on those misconceptions.

And the fourth is about all things German. I call it “German(e) and Human(e)” because its premise is to show that the German people don’t deserve the prejudice that is often leveled at them. (Even though I understand it.)

Posting to these blogs is great exercise for a writer, but it is also an escape from my other writing. When I’m having trouble writing an essay or working on my novel, I find that I can almost always think of something to write about for one of my blogs. Whether or not what I write is interesting to others is something I have yet to discover. I have received only two or three comments among them. But one of my posts was cited on Mothers Book Bag in connection with a review of The Maternal is Political. (“Taking Mothers Seriously,” Femagination, July 15, 2008). I felt very good about that.

I don’t know how bloggers get their blogs noticed. I keep hoping that someone will stumble across one of mine some day and spread the word. But in the meantime I’m going to keep on “bloggin’.”