Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TALL POPPIES


Until recently, here in New Zealand, it wasn’t acceptable to stand out.  Everyone was equal, no one was better or worse, Jack was as good as his master.  Not so long ago children tried not to win prizes at school – oh, the shame of it.  Growing up, they were discouraged from pushing themselves forward, blowing their own trumpets, showing off. Even now adults who are suspected of skiting receive the curled-lip treatment.

Oh alright, I exaggerate – but tall poppies still tend to get their heads chopped off.  Tall poppies are of course those who dare to raise their heads above the parapet, and are therefore targets for everyone else. I’ve been here long enough to be wary and, like any hopeful immigrant, have done my best to fit in,  although anyone with half an eye could see that it was nonsense.  How would anything get done if everybody ducked down in case they became successful, invented things, found new continents, discovered cures for this and antidotes for that? What good are a lot of decapitated poppies?

But things change. We have embraced the personality culture that has infected the rest of the world, although we still only revere celebs from elsewhere – even from Australia if we’re desperate. Our own? Not so much. Apart from sporting heroes, we tend to dismiss our over-achievers as being somehow not quite up to scratch.  They are not as good as the overseas ones. They are obviously skiting, showing off, and probably up themselves. So we still chop their heads off – if we can catch them before they disappear overseas to continue their stellar careers.

We indie writers are therefore in a quandary. We are uncomfortable with self-puffery. We can’t hide behind a publisher who does our marketing for us while we simper modestly in the background, because we are the publisher.  But now smashwords.com, the conduit and distributor for thousands of us, have a new section for personal interviews, and the indie authors, including me, have leapt in and, rather quaintly, interviewed themselves. We can use the supplied questions as is, modify them, delete them, or generate our own. We can go back any number of times and change anything, add anything. It means that the power is in our hands – and so is the responsibility.

It also means sticking our heads above the parapet. So please put the swords away if you just happen upon these personal interviews. They are almost the only way we can tell the world about our works, even if it does seem like showing off.  I’ve hidden the link for mine up there on the left, under The Books.  


 

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