EAT THE DOCUMENT

For those of you who are not already aware, self-promotion is a war. Those of us pushing a new book or CD battle ferociously for precious few seconds of your attention, hoping that our pitch will somehow pique your interest in our passion. We dutifully re-configure our souls for the Facebook wall, then cross our fingers that we’ll strike a magic chord, enticing you to join us on our creative journey. But as in any war, victory cannot be ours unless we know who else lines the battlefield.

Enter the “Food Posters,” those staunch members of the Facebook tribe who need you to know everything they cooked for breakfast, or more puzzling yet, simply what they ate for breakfast. At last count, the FP’s outnumbered novelists by 100,000 to 1, which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t beg the question: “Is my novel as good as that French Toast? Sure, I put everything I had into creating deep and complex characters, but look at the way the butter melts into the syrup. It’s mesmerizing. Who am I kidding? There’s no contest here.”

I surrender unequivocally, declaring a TKO for the French Toast. Then, as I proceed to drown in melancholy, I suddenly remember that it is just a picture of French Toast — which has undoubtedly been eaten or is ice-cold by now. Not so my novel. This is a work that will live on in people’s hearts forever! Or at least until lunch, when somebody posts a bitchin’ club sandwich.

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ZEN AND THE ART OF SELF-PROMOTION

People who don’t write are fascinated by the process.  They imagine our work to be a joyful, transcendent experience that fills us with satisfaction because we are not shuffling papers in an insurance office.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  If one had to find a phrase that best encapsulates the creative process, it would be “self-loathing.”  Any artist worth his salt hates himself as he fills the blank page.  “How dare I think I’m producing anything new or worthy?  “Who do I think I’m kidding, telling people I’m a writer?”  “Hey, I’ll bet I’d make a decent term life salesman.”  These are some of the demons we fight as we struggle to fill the blank page.  But then, miraculously, we get to the finish line, and we are suddenly ecstatic.  Even if we hate what we wrote, the inarguable fact that we completed the task is cause for celebration.  And who knows?   Despite how unworthy we felt during the process, the work might have actually turned out well.

We beat up on ourselves for a couple of reasons:  One, we are aways judging our creation against the excellent work of others, and two, with every word we write we expose a piece of who we are.   Vulnerability comes at a price, on the page, as in life.  The new twist is that despite having exposed and tortured ourselves, once we finish, we are expected to be our own cheerleaders, marketing and selling our newborn babies to the world.   Cheerleading is antithetical to everything for which a writer stands.  Those of us in movies and television gladly pay agents and managers ten percent, not simply to get us work, but to say “Bruce Ferber is a great writer,” as opposed to Bruce Ferber having to say “I’m a great writer, you’ve got to read my book.”   But Bruce Ferber, like the rest of you, now lives in a DIY world, which, truth be told, has its upsides.  In exchange for having to gag as I tell people how funny and interesting my book is, I am free from eager executive-speak like “We desperately want to be in the Bruce Ferber business,” followed by “We decided to go another way.”

Buy my book.  It’s fucking great.