Because many writers tend to be terrible self-promoters, you might think writers to be humble. After all, writers are focused on the craft, not the accolades or the sales. (Definitely not the sales.) But this is less true than some might think. At least, as it applies to me. Which is, I hope, an indication of some level of self-awareness. Anyway…
I’m an irregularly published author. My first book came out in 2011. The second in 2012. Then there was nothing for a while.1 So it’s not like I’m one of those guys releasing a book a year. But with another one coming out soon, I started thinking about the weird things I’ve seen writers—myself especially—brag about. Here are a few:
How many times we’ve been published. See above.
Endorsers. Specifically, how many cumulatively, and how many “names”. I love endorsements, and have been glad to see very kind words of encouragement from people I respect and personally enjoy on all my books. But I know there was a tendency early on to be a bit braggy, because people can assume you’re connected based on who wrote something nice about your book (which may or may not be true).
Footnotes/endnotes. When I started writing, I was watching/listening to a bunch of folks who wore the number of footnotes they had in their books like a badge of honor, as if having 1000 made it better than having 100. So with some friends, I would use that as a selling point. I love footnotes and endnotes, but it took me too long to really get it through my head that it doesn’t matter how many there are in a book. What matters is how good the book actually is.
The writing process itself. It’s as easy to oversell the difficulty of writing as it is to undersell it. The truth is, the process is different for everyone, and for every project. Sometimes writing seems effortless. Other times, it is a soul-crushing nightmare. Sometimes it’s both in the same project. Everything in the writing process—from writer’s block to actually finding the time to do it—is an opportunity for putting on airs.
Most writers I know, including me, don’t mean to be braggy about these things, because often they’re not actually worth bragging about. But even so, we do it. Maybe it’s a cry for help. Maybe it’s social anxiety (also a cry for help). Or perhaps it’s a “safe” way for us to release a bit of our pent-up pride. However you look at it, though, it’s something I know that I’m guarding my heart against this time around.
- Aside from a fake book I came up with as a gag one year, and a real one that is based on something else I wrote.