There's this terrible myth still floating around that published authors can just write and cash royalty checks. Wrong! Major publishers now expect authors to self-promote, and self-published authors must self-promote in order to be successful. Today's reclusive writer (J.D. Salinger-like) is usually an unsuccessful writer (saleswise).
Here are two contrasting examples:
I remember reading about debut novelist James Boice in Writer's Digest back in 2008. The article/interview, entitled The Silent Type, posed a question: "Can a writer who just wants to be left alone to write make it in today's extroverted publishing world?" Boice, at 24, was the youngest person to publish fiction in Esquire and his debut novel, MVP, was published by Scribner in May 2007. Very impressive! However, Boice did not embrace the spotlight or self-promotion. In the previously mentioned interview, he said that he didn't want to go on book tours, and when asked if he'd perform some publicity on his own, he replied, "I don't have to do anything. The whole process has been a trial. I just want to write." Since then (after seeing low sales numbers), it appears that Boice has changed his tune a bit. In a post on his Web site, Boice admitted, "Sales started off okay then diminished," referring to MVP. Now he's finally taking advantage of video streaming/sharing, Twitter (became an active user in Feb.), and Facebook (created fan page 2/22/11) ... I guess he kind of answered the interviewers question; new writers can't "make it" in this extroverted publishing world by being anti-social. Boice's new book, The Good And The Ghastly, releases June 14. Let's hope he decides to promote himself this time. I should note that I have nothing against James Boice. He's a talented writer who seems willing to adapt. That's a good thing.
Then you have NY Times bestselling authors like Karen Kingsbury (Zondervan & Simon & Schuster), who fully embraces social media/online publicity and engaging with readers. Karen is active on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, her Web site, and she is constantly doing book signings and holding special events, etc. Yet...she still finds time to write, releasing more than one book per year.
What do you think? Comment here.