An attention seeker by any other name…

If self-publishing can be analogised as pregnancy, I'm experiencing labour pains.

If self-publishing can be analogised as pregnancy, I’m experiencing labour pains.

Part one:

Since self-publishing went digital, people (writers who self-publish mostly) have been coming up with ways of referring to themselves that don’t have the old derogatory connotations of traditional vanity publishing attached to them. No one wants to be tainted with that label. The publishing industry has always looked down its collective nose at such enterprise. Vanity publishing is conventionally associated with people who believed they could write, were not able to get traditionally published and who then paid to have a print run of their books produced. These they would often try to shift themselves only to end up with large numbers of books in their garages awaiting processing for mouse-nest bedding. Even in the digital age it still goes on.

On my email signature I refer to myself as an ‘author-publisher’. I think I got that from Joe Konrath, a phenomenal success in the self-publishing business and something of a self-appointed champion/mouthpiece for self-publishing, like him or loathe him. I thought if it’s good enough for Uncle Jo, it’s good enough for me. It is, I think, tinged with a little more respectability than a term with the word vanity in it. Vanity smacks of attention seeking. But are we self-publishers in the digital age conceptually any different to the vanity publishers of old and new, regardless of how we label ourselves? Are we not all seeking attention for our work and therefore for ourselves?

It occurred to me a little while ago that I wished I hadn’t self-published under my own name. The more I have come to think about it the more I see that as the single defining standard regarding whether one is a vanity publisher, as putting the vanity into vanity publishing – is the author self-publishing under his/her own name? I’m referring to those of us who are going it alone from nowhere in the hope that we might receive some positive reader attention, maybe even be ‘discovered’. Of course, we want attention for our writing. None of us is writing to be ignored. But I can’t help equating self-publishing under one’s own name with walking around sporting face piercings and exposed arms covered in tattoos – things that shout look at me!

Hindsight is often a wonderful thing. I wish I could start again. I would write under a pseudonym because writing under my own name makes me feel like an attention seeker in a bad way. And the older I get the more I dislike attention seekers and attention seeking.  I don’t know what pen name I would have used and there is no point wasting time on that aspect of this attention seeking lament now.

Being honest, part of why I decided to write under my own name was that when I was in my first flush of self-publishing youth I hoped that enough readers would like my books enough and then I might make something of a name for myself. I was seeking attention for my name. It’s vanity. It’s ego. It’s narcissism. It’s self-importance. I feel like doing a penance. Has that hair shirt been through the wash, I wonder.

Part two:

Last weekend I received Smoke & Mirrors (Acer Sansom #3) back from the gentleman who proofreads my books. That gave me a decision to make: devote my time to looking at his comments, corrections and suggestions with a view to getting the book on to Amazon post-haste, or finish my own final read throughs of He Made Me (B&C #2) so that I can get it off to him. I flipped a coin and option B won. So, this week I have made the best that I think I can out of He Made Me and sent it off. Now I can turn my full attention to Smoke & Mirrors. I’m looking forward to it. All being well it’ll be out shortly.

I’ve been working on the Amazon blurb and it’s looking like this:

Reeling and vulnerable from news regarding the sudden death of a woman who he thought he might have had another chance at life with, Acer Sansom has agreed to do a one off job for Crouch of British Intelligence. He’s not doing it for money. He’s not doing it for his country. He’s doing it for the children.

Acer has gone undercover in Iran in search of evidence that British scientists believed dead are, in fact, alive and being forced to work in one of the regime’s nuclear facilities. 

A straightforward reconnaissance assignment becomes something far more involved, more complicated and more dangerous. In light of new knowledge and reason, Acer finds himself with no alternative but to risk his life and the lives of others with a change of plan.

8 thoughts on “An attention seeker by any other name…

  1. First off, let me say that the name you write under was, I really thought, an alias. So you had me fooled right from the get-go. Oliver Tidy has a certain ring to it…for God’s sake don’t change it now.

    Now then, you knew that whatever choice you made regarding the Acer or the B&C book would be wrong to some of us (your growing band of readers and promoters). Personally, I couldn’t give a rat’s whatsit which one you chose….just stop the procrastinating and get a damned book out!!! I’ve missed you!!! I have my pennies all saved up and can’t wait to spend them on either book. Well, actually, it will be on both books. If they are as good as the all the others I, and all who read here, will not be disappointed. So be a good chap and get a hustle on,eh?

    Finally, and not wishing to apply any undue pressure (he lied), What about another outing for Romney & Marsh? Even if it was only a series of ‘shorts’, I for one would be queuing up (can you do that digitally I wonder), to buy them.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Andy
      That’s two people who thought I’d made up my name. I should have kept my mouth shut. I won’t go changing things now. That would be even more attention seeking!
      Thanks for your very kind words. Your message made me smile.
      I’m working on Acer 3 right now. I should be out by Christmas and then, hopefully, B&C 2 won’t be far behind.
      I’m thinking about R&M 5 in between times and anticipate making a start on that before the year is out.
      Thanks again and ı do appreciate your comments.
      Best wishes.

  2. I await with bated breath! I thought Oliver Tidy was a pseudonym…….sounds well hard to describe but perhaps a trifle construed! Like the name though as it is very memorable which is exactly what you want.
    Really looking for ward to the new Acer book and love the fact he is off to Iran 🙂

    • Hi Somnus
      I just said above that I should have shut my gob over the name thing as more people than not seem to think I’d made it up. 🙂
      I’m looking forward to getting Acer 3 out there. I’m reading it through again now and I’m happy with it. But I am feeling a bit of pressure over it. I hope that readers find that it adds to the series well enough.
      Acer gets about a bit in this one. How did people write before Google?
      Best wishes.

  3. I think I will have to buy the book and get it signed by you…seems that you are climbing the ladder of success…pethaps in Germant too…a first edition signed by the author could be worth a bit and then I can make my zillions too 🙂

    • 🙂 I know a good joke about climbing the ladder to success…but ıt’s too rude for here. I’ve resisted having printed copies of my books made so far. Maybe another year and I’ll have to face up to the fact that the only way will be for me to do it myself (like everything else in life, meh.) Signed copies? No problem. 🙂

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