How The Job of Perpetual Publicity Keeps Writers From Writing

pile of iPhonesPerpetual publicity is a new, overwhelming job that may be leading  to an epidemic of writer’s block, and most American writers have little or no idea what to do about it.  In the past, newly released books were publicized by what is now called “event-based publicity.” This meant that an author spent two or three years writing a book and about four to six months publicizing it immediately after its release. The best part of this model was that it left writers a lot of quiet, undisturbed time to write.

All that has changed profoundly. In the past few years thanks to the digital revolution and the explosive growth of social media, we have moved from the era of “event-based publicity” to the era of “perpetual publicity.” This means that since no book ever goes out of print, there is never a time when authors who want their books read can justify retreating into their studies and severing contact with the outside world.

To make matters even more complicated, traditional print publishers are doing less publicity for their authors these days. Even when they do assign publicists to a recently released book, those publicists only work for a short time on the old event-based model even though the need for publicity is now perpetual.  In effect, authors are now expected to be their own publicists 24/7, and perpetual publicity is not a job many authors are good at. People who write books are often people who treasure long bouts of silence where imagination can flourish.

Recently a well-known writer friend of mine, justifiably famous for the beauty, complexity, and originality of his novels, complained that he had turned into an “answerer of emails.”  “That’s all I do these days,” he said. “Sit at my computer and hit “Reply,” or guest blog, or Tweet, or update my website, or post something new on my Facebook Fan Page. I not only don’t have time to write my novels; I don’t even have time to think.”

Even writers who are completely comfortable with social media and enjoy all the interaction admit that perpetual publicity is a major distraction since it’s so much easier to answer email or blog or update a Facebook page than fill a blank screen with words.

As time passes, will writers adjust to this new state of affairs? Will they learn how to balance the demands of perpetual publicity with creativity? Will they someday come to embrace it as the price they have to pay for having their work perpetually available?  It’s too soon to tell.

Come back soon to The Writer’s Journey Blog for more discussion about how the Digital Revolution is changing Writers’ Lives.

Mary Mackey Reads From Her Novel Immersion at Bookshop West Portal

Women's National Book Association

Women’s National Book Association

 This Tuesday, October 1, 2013,  join Mary Mackey at Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco and hear her read from her ground-breaking novel ImmersionFirst published in 1972 by the legendary Shameless Hussy Press, Immersion was the first feminist novel published by a Second Wave feminist press and possibly the first ecofeminist novel ever published.  Set in the jungles of Costa Rica, it tells the story of a tangle of adultery and relentless tropical heat that leads to murder, but of an unexpected victim. Immersion has recently been re-released by the Authors Guild through their backinprint.com program.

This event at Bookshop West Portal is sponsored by The Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter.  Mary will be reading with three other WNBA-SF members, all with newly released novels – as they explore the “Ties That Bind: Relationships and Feminine Identity:” Meg Waite Clayton author of Wednesday Daughters, Tracy Guzeman author of The Gravity of Birds, and Amanda McTigue author of Going to Solace

The reading will be Moderated by Patricia Davis, author of Diva Doctrine.  Enjoy FREE wine and hors d’oeuvres, and a chance to win one of the authors’ books.   Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Place: Bookshop West Portal, 80 West Portal Ave, San Francisco, CA. 

The Women’s National Book Association (WNBA), a dynamic group for readers and writers, was established in 1917, before women in America even had the right to vote. A broad-based nonprofit organization with members across the country, WNBA exists to promote reading and to support the role of women in the community of books. 

Tomorrow Mary Mackey, Al Young read poetry in Pacifica

S100 Thousand Poets For Changeaturday September 28, 2013, Pacifica CA. Hear Mary Mackey  read at the  Oceana Art Gallery 100 Thousand Poets For Change Event with California Poet Laureate Emeritus Al Young, and Linda E. Norton. TIME: 4:30 pm. PLACE: Oceana Art Gallery, 150 Eureka Square, Pacifica, CA 94044. Phone: (650) 733-7029. Admission is free.

Mary Mackey To Read Her Poetry at the Berkeley Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival

Watershed Poetry Festival 2013 

This Saturday,  September 28th, 2013,  I’m going to be reading some of my poems about the the rivers and rainforests of the Amazon at the 18th Berkeley Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival. One of my favorite things about Watershed is that many of the poetry readings take place along the banks of Strawberry Creek.  The walk along the creek begins at 10:00 am. We meet at Oxford and Center and follow the creek through U.C. Berkeley. I’ll be reading in the Eucalyptus Grove (one of my favorite places) where the trees are tall, green, lush, and smell wonderful. I’ll also be talking briefly about the watershed of the Amazon–the largest watershed in the world which encompass an area of 2,720,000 square miles (7,050,000 sq km) and includes the largest tropical rainforest in the word.  A few years ago my husband and I went back to the Amazon  for the third time and took a 2000 mile boat trip up of one of its black water tributaries where the fish are brightly colored and the dolphins are pink. Because the river was in flood, the water was 65 feet high, which meant our canoes were floating through the tree tops.

After the Creek Walk, the Watershed Festival continues at the Civic Center Park in Berkeley(on Martin Luther King Blvd between Center Street and Allston Way) where I will be reading more of my poems on the main stage at 12:45.  Other readers on the Watershed main stage include Gary Snyder, Robert Hass (U.S. Poet Laureate 1995 to 1997), Brenda Hillman, Matthew Zapruder, Jennifer Elise Foerster, and a host of other fine poets.

The Civic Center portion of Watershed lasts from noon to 4:30 pm. Besides poetry readings, the festival  includes jazz, exhibits of literary magazines, books and book signings, interactive writing with Poecology, and much more.  Admission is free to all Watershed Events. Click here for more information and directions to the September 28, 2013 Berkeley Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival.