Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Considering Authenticity

“To thine own self be true” – Shakespeare

I had a great dialogue yesterday with RW on the blog Why Are Things The Way They Are? about Marketing 101 for Writers. It got me thinking a bit about sales, marketing, all that messy MBA stuff I am studying, and authenticity.

Setting everything else aside, people and companies have to stay true to themselves, their message, and their history, or they will not be well-perceived by their audience. This applies to writers and bloggers too, especially in this new age of independent authors. We are responsible for everything, from concept through design to production, execution, sales, and marketing, and all those other fun steps in between.

It reminded me of a TED Talks by Joseph Pine, author of Mass Customization. In this talk, he says that selling authenticity is tough because, well, there really is no such thing.

1. Don’t say you are authentic unless you really are authentic.
2. It is easier to be authentic if you don’t say you are authentic.
3. If you say you are authentic, you better be authentic.

4 comments on “Considering Authenticity

  1. R W
    January 22, 2013

    That’s so funny! I write a lot about authenticity (not just in fiction but generally) and I’m a rabid TEDster. I’m also a moderator in the Google+ Community “Writer’s Discussion Group” where we were talking about this just the other day. The question was raised, how far should a writer go to meet the perceived desires of her audience? In other words, at what point are you “selling out,” and is there even such a thing?

    I suggested the answer was authenticity. It’s appropriate to grow and change as an author in response to criticism, as long as you remain true to your authentic voice. Of course, it’s not always clear where that line is, but the point is to be aware of the difference and try.

    There’s something similar going on with marketing I think. Take criticism. Grow. But in every interaction, don’t stop being you. That was also the message from a guest author in a separate discussion in the group. His advice: don’t treat ANYONE like a potential reader.

    Thanks for the mention!

    • tracycembor
      January 22, 2013

      I am now the 8801st member of the Writer’s Discussion Group. Yay!

      I don’t think an author should ever do more than he is comfortable with the meet the perceived desires of his audience. I do think that you should be open to what opportunities come your way though. Jim C. Hines is a great example of an author who started analyzing unrealistic poses on book covers, which has now grown to be what he is best known for. It wasn’t expected, but he embrassed it while staying true to his message. He probably sleeps okay at night.

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Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

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About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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