Mark Twain – Inventor of the Book Blog Tour?

Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society— Octavio Paz

One of the things I signed up for to promote the release of Willful Avoidance (otherwise known as Secrets of a Kick-ass Tax Woman) is a book blog tour. Has anyone ever done one of those?  Am I completely crazy? 

The point of a book blog tour is to spread the word about your wonderful masterpiece and to hopefully convince people to review your book (because, as every writer knows, if your book doesn’t have 35 reviews it goes straight to the shiteree.)    

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A Pius Pity Puss

Just the thought of self-promotion turns me into the most wretched of creatures – a full blown pity puss -flogging myself, over imbibing and piteously wailing: Woe is me, to whoever will listen. At this point, only the cat.

Many of us think that successful writers, like Mark Twain, would never in a million years lower themselves to take part in the wretched process of self-promotion. This notion is often perpetuated by those same authors in statements such as:

How often we recall with regret that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember with charity that his intentions were good. – Mark Twain

Sounds as though Twain would spit in the eye of any publisher who dared to order him on a book blog tour, doesn’t it?

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From Mark Twain in His Times, the University of Virginia

Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  According to this article from the University of Virginia, Twain practically invented self-promotion. He was the first author to incorporate himself, the first author to trademark his name and finally the first to sell books via subscription (basically pre-ordering) and would not publish a book unless he had enough “subscribers.” 

Curse you Mark Twain!   

Here are some quotes from other pity pusses (err, writers) on the subject of self-promotion:

  • In other countries, art and literature are left to a lot of shabby bums living in attics and feeding on booze and spaghetti, but in America the successful writer or picture-painter is indistinguishable from any other decent businessman — Sinclair Lewis
  • Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent — James Baldwin
  • America is no place for an artist: to be an artist is to be a moral leper, an economic misfit, a social liability. A corn-fed hog enjoys a better life than a creative writer, painter, or musician. To be a rabbit is better still — Henry Miller
  • All publishers are Columbuses. The successful author is th-2their America. The reflection that they–like Columbus–didn’t discover what they expected to discover, and didn’t discover what they started out to discover, doesn’t trouble them. All they remember is that they discovered America; they forget that they started out to discover some patch or corner of India — from the Autobiography of Mark Twain

Are you a pity puss like me or a Mark Twain?  Fess up, your secret is safe with me!

8 thoughts on “Mark Twain – Inventor of the Book Blog Tour?

  1. There is nothing worse in my life as a writer than begging people to read my book. The day I no longer have to do that is the day I consider myself successful.

    (I think that makes me a pity puss, but I do love Mark Twain, and it just so happens that one of my favorite quotes by him involves a puss: “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”)

  2. Nope. No easy feat at all. And with our world so saturated with media, literature and entertainment begging for attention, it requires a solid set of lungs to be heard above the fray.
    I feel for you, Jan. Empathise on every level really.
    But blog tours can be great fun too. Remember, we’re supposed to enjoy this. It’s work, yes, but it’s a labor of love as well.
    And I adore that quote from Twain about Napoleon and the editor. It always sets me off into a fit of giggles.

    • @peakperspective says: “Remember, we’re supposed to enjoy this. It’s work, yes, but it’s a labor of love as well.”

      Wise words, those. The journey is the reward, and we should take the time to enjoy it!

  3. A necessary evil, but you’ve done it before so this time should be easier. You are so entertaining on paper, I’m sure you can pump that out for your talks. Advice I was once given “Have a good time in front of your audience.” You want to tell yourself to enjoy it…they have come to see you after all and they want to see you smile.

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