Humility doesn’t make you rich…REALLY!!!


~ After the news came out in the coffee shop over the weekend regarding the upcoming release of my debut novel, a number of acquaintances started chiming in their ‘advice’ on what I should do, one person said,

Kenneth, if you want to sell a lot of copies of your book you’ve got to get your brand going better! You need to restart your Facebook & Twitter and you’ve got to post on social networks every day in order to get as many people as possible to hear about your book!” he said

While this well intentioned person might have some great ideas, I have to be honest, I never started blogging or working on a book in order to get my name out to as many people possible…that was never my goal.

Honestly, I could care less if people know who I am.

Before I started blogging I had both a Facebook and a Twitter account and other than a handful of friends and relatives, I didn’t have a lot of “followers” or “friends” on my accounts. After I started blogging the numbers started to go up….a lot…and it started irking me a bit. Actually, it started irking me a lot.

–) What does it mean when thousands of people read what we post to Twitter or Facebook or other social networks?

–) How often do the things we say on social networks get taken out of context?

–) How often are social networks used as a medium for gossip, bullying, and other forms of mean spiritedness?

Most importantly, how are social networks changing the very way we think and communicate with each other?

One of the things I appreciate about newspapers, articles, blogs, and other long-form methods of the written word is that it allows both the author and the reader an opportunity to consider more complete thoughts and reflections on life.

Here in the United States, social networks have been a key way for politicians in this year’s election cycle to get their name out non-stop. Politicians on both sides of the aisle use Twitter and Facebook to comment incessantly about a whole assortment of issues, with their main goal being personal propaganda; they are a brand. 

Just like Nike or Apple, celebrities, politicians and other “famous” people practice the art of personal branding. If you are an artist, musician, author, or have some particular type of skill or medium you want to get out to the world, there are a plethora of articles and books that explicitly tell you that your main goal should be to create yourself into a brand.

Is that really what the great artists were doing back in the day? Can you imagine Shakespeare or Melville sitting in a coffee shop trying to figure out how to better brand themselves for public consumption?

Honestly, the entire concept of branding and personal propaganda is a bit offsetting and it isn’t something that I want people to associate with me.

When I first started writing my novel three years ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop one afternoon thinking about a conversation I was having with a friend of mine in which we kept running into a brick wall. I was trying to figure out a way to communicate some ideas to him in a way that he could better understand, and the next thing I knew I was writing a story, a narrative about some teenagers, technology, and where it looks like our world is heading.

You see, I didn’t write the novel in order that a million people would hear my name. I wrote the book because I was trying to explain something more clearly to a friend……that is what artists, philosophers, and writers do; they use various types of imagery to communicate ideas.

While it is definitely not a good business move, I don’t have any plans to turn my Twitter and Facebook back on. It’s been really nice being completely free of social networks and not checking status updates, not feeling the need to post little blurbs, and being free from what seems to be more often than not, a lot of drama.  Social networks gave me a lot of unnecessary headaches.

So does this mean I will end up selling thousands of books less than I could….yup, it most likely does. Since I won’t be using Facebook and Twitter I can most likely kiss goodbye any chance of getting on the NY Times bestsellers list anytime soon. Social networks have become the all encompassing primary way that new authors and artists hawk their products….and if you don’t use them, you can pretty much expect to stay relatively unknown.

That is the sad reality of life, doing what is best for yourself doesn’t mean that everything will turn to gold. Thankfully I still have my coffee,


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Categories: Culture & Society

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22 replies

  1. The problem is, Kenneth, that we (readers) do like to write to writers. I follow quite a few writers on Facebook and I do not see them as engaging in ‘self-propaganda’, I follow them because I like their thoughts and their style and because I love how their thoughts enrich my life. I can honestly say that on a few occasions I was saved or maybe redirected by their short posts on Facebook. I dislike Facebook for their ‘like’ button which is making us less confident in our own judgements and needy of praise, but I do like Facebook for the fact that every so often my wall fills with some gems from the writers that I love. Do not put yourself under pressure to have a Facebook account, but do not dismiss it either. Facebook is just a modern postman that could deliver electronic letters from your readers to you and from you to your readers. Can’t wait to read your book. Alicja.

  2. A couple of words of advice I have for you, culture monk. You’re going to have to promote yourself. Promotions is simply about getting the word out. If people don’t know of your book, they can’t read your book. You have something important to say, that’s why you wrote it. And because you have something important to say, you need people to listen, to read. You can avoid FB and twitter if you prefer, but unless you have a hot dog publisher, you simply must engage in some kind of promotion.

    Second of all, not unlike blogging, not everyone is going to like you or agree with you. You really have to grow a tough skin, be strong, and know what’s in your own heart, because criticism can be kind of brutal. Don’t take anything personal, often people’s feelings are not about you at all, it is about them. Somebody smart once told me, hatred is only the flip side of love, it’s people’s indifference that we should fear.

    I’ve watched people go through these things a few times, and those are the two most common obstacles, so just keep them in mind. Sorry, I probably sound like someone’s mother here, but I really do wish to just ease the process. 😉

  3. Having an author page on Facebook is a good idea if you have a book to promote. You don’t have to be a slave to it, but you might enjoy interacting with your readers a little, just like I think you enjoy interacting with your readers here on your blog. You don’t have to engage in shameless self-promotion, but you will probably sell more books, and that is a good thing.

  4. You do have something to say, then you should make it known so people can see it and engage with you on these opinions. If it were simply for that one person, i’m sure you’d print a single copy and hand-deliver it. But this is more; this is bigger than one person, so please do right by your book and let the world see it.

    I’m sure i don’t sound like anyone’s mother 🙂

  5. You set your goals and you’re aimed at them. Sounds like you’re doing it right! The assumption that you need to sell a lot of books is baked into all of the advice being offered. You’ve made it clear that it’s not. I’ll respect that and perhaps even buy a book!

  6. Thanks, Kenneth, As a writer, couldn’t agree more. Be real..

  7. Think of it this way – you’re having this conversation with your friend at the coffee shop, trying to explain your point of view. People at other tables start listening in, asking questions, adding their own viewpoints. Then pretty soon you’re out on the sidewalk with a whole group of people talking about your ideas. So — that’s your Facebook author page. You just started a conversation, let folks listen in. You don’t have to yell, you don’t have to tweet – but at least have a page where people overhear and perhaps join in. My two cents.

  8. And one more thing because maybe it will give you a chuckle. I read this on a friend’s Facebook page: “People who read seven or more books per year are more than 122 percent likelier to be millionaires than those who read three or fewer.” Randall Bell, Rich Habits for a Rich Life.
    I mean, that’s why I read books, right? With the expectation of becoming a millionaire??

  9. Writing a book is a whole hell of a lot easier than selling it in an already flooded . . . no DROWNED marketplace.

    I have written and self published three books that were well accepted by the few friends and relatives who read them . . . I’m happy with that because I write for fun. I do NOT write for fame or fortune. Nor do I believe I have food for the dying planet. I merely write to research and learn something more about my subject matter, whether it be medical, philosophical, or self defense.

    Sad fact is a badly written book by a known person will sell while a really good book written by a nobody will not.

    And this thing about branding yourself? It hurts too bad.

  10. Hehehe, I see… They understand, but they do-not. Well, maybe some… Keeping it clear. Great article. -J

  11. who cares ? i don’t want to be rich i want to be happy …. are you happy ?

  12. As a writer I completely sympathise. I blog and I do social media because I know it is expected of me to have an author platform.
    I really love the reason why you wrote the book though: to tell a story in the best way that you can.
    Seriously, I think there would be a lot more creativity, and a much clearer and honest view of the world if more people approached writing this way rather than by thinking “How much money can I make from this?”, or in the case of politicians “How can I simplify myself enough for the average non-political citizen to understand what I claim I want to do” and then refute it when the more complex manifestos clearly explain the exact opposite (or so it seems).

  13. And despite all that there is always a change you get read and put on the list.
    Nothing is set in stone and not even branding might have the effect you are going for.

    Thing is every artists or creator will have a set of people who like the work. And in the end as it has been for ages.
    The best branding is the one that goes from one voice to another. Mouth to mouth. As it will have poeple think rather than just follow.

    It means something to me, to rather have one person who thinks after reading than one that just follows because it suits their branding mission.

    Grateful to the one reader as it is the best present any writer could ask for.
    Go for it and be yourself start to finish.

    Here is to another cup and our future. Cheers

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