On Self-Promotion, Selling Out, and Burn Out

Scratch Q4 2014: Self-Help

The Fall 2014 issue of Scratch is now available. Inside, you’ll find a feature interview with New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon, offering insights on how to balance your artistic lifestyle with marketing and self-promotion. Here’s what he says about being an author as his full-time job:

It’s weird because I’ve written about how you shouldn’t be afraid to take money for your art, and you shouldn’t be afraid to sell what you do, and you shouldn’t be worried about being labeled a sellout or whatever. But there are things that happen when your passion, when your avocation or calling or whatever you want to call it, becomes your bread-winning. It gets very complicated very quickly, and it can really turn into a drag. … 

So for me, it’s like, when you’re just a web designer, and you’re at your desk and you make these silly poems on your lunch break because you’re just passing the time, and you just want to do something creative with yourself, then you throw them online because you’re like, What else am I gonna do with ’em … that is a different impulse than, the minute I post a poem now, fifty thousand people see it. And that’s just an audience thing.

Money-wise, it would be like being in a band that goes suddenly from “we all play in the bar after work,” to playing stadiums. It’s that kind of shift. What happens when the thing that kept you alive suddenly becomes the thing that literally keeps you alive? The thing that kept you spiritually alive now not only has to keep you spiritually alive, but also has to keep you financially alive. Like, literally alive. Like, food in your mouth.

Click here to read the full interview for free. (Registration is required.)

Also free in this issue:

Only subscribers get access to the full issue, including some of my own pieces:

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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