Bigger Than the Work

Summer reading season is an interesting time. I suppose it’s because people take vacations around this time so I guess it’s natural that books get more publicity around the warmer months, though that’s pretty sad because you can always find a little time to read, I mean, really. Come on now. Anyway, it’s interesting right now because books and e-books are at the fore so it gives you a chance to peruse some of the new titles and authors out there. It was interesting because last night I came across something didn’t shock me but made me stop and ponder a bit.

I came across a book where the name of the author – Melanie Booklady – was the focus of the cover and the title of the book – My Dumb Summer Book Of Words – was in a much smaller font beneath it. Now, I can dig that the author here had made themselves a name, a brand if you will, and that’s what will move the books. We are drawn to what we know and to commodities and properties we know, that’s just many of us are. And if you are an author you are working for years to build your library and your name brand and recognition because if people read something of yours and like it then the chances are good they will read something else by  you and will like that as well. It’s good business. The thing is though that it always freaks me out when the author is bigger than the work. As a writer I know I write to be its own thing. I would use my name and past work to entice people to check out other work but in the end it’s my hope that the book stands on its own. I would hate to feel like I was more important than the work and to promote the work that way because it feels like you don’t believe in it. Like, well, I released this, and it’s new and junk, but, you know, you should trust me because I wrote it and you’ll prolly like it. Bwah?

Being where I am a writer it’s easy to say all this stuff. I am a small guy selling my books at small shows and online. I have no marketer, no publicist, no publisher. I have me and that makes things more streamlined, yes, but it also makes things a lot, well, smaller. It means, in essence, that I am not anywhere near the leagues of these other writers. And I won’t fault any author that has built a career and brand because in this era it isn’t easy. I just wish that the work was always first, even if it was just first enough that it wasn’t downplayed on the cover of whatever the new book is. Sure, a lot of that falls on how the publisher wants to market the person but in the end the decision is their own and for me, if I am ever more important than what I am writing then as successful as I may be, well, I did something wrong along the way and need to remind myself why I fell in love with writing in the first place – the stories.

It’s always, always, always about the stories.

We writers are simply the ones that got those stories put down on paper or screen.

We all need to remember that, I think.

c

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