Why Writers Need Swelled Heads

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World Horror Convention Stoker Banquet 2015

This morning I responded to requests for an updated bio. Those who know me understand my reluctance. I’m a shy guy who would much rather extol the accomplishments of others than my own.

“You? Shy?” I hear some people say. “I don’t believe it!”

“I am shy most of the time,” would be my truest answer. Both my father and mother were shy people who hid their accomplishments. I had no siblings, and I grew up in an environment where each of us was allowed to be a private person with our own private personal spaces. My parents were basically introverts, and so am I. Shy is my comfort zone.

That does not mean I’m always an introvert. Like all humans, my essential personalities tend to cycle in 90 to 120 minute intervals. I go from quiet, shy, and retiring to loud and boisterous literally at the blink of an eye. Read studies by Ernest L. Rossi or my 2003 States of Consciousness and Cognition (http://www.worldcat.org/title/states-of-consciousness-and-cognition-a-study-of-state-dependent-learning/oclc/55033686&referer=brief_results) if you doubt this normally happens to practically everyone almost every day. Has it ever happened to you? Probably.

I spent twenty years helping various hypnotherapy clients, many of them very successful high-achieving professionals, overcome what researchers call “The Impostor Syndrome.” Here is a brief description from Wikipedia: “Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women,[2] while others indicate that men and women are equally affected.”

I possess two of the syndrome’s major symptoms: diligence and avoidance of displays of confidence.

What that means is, I believe I need to work harder than others to achieve success. And, no matter what I do, it’s never enough.

My parents, puritans to the core, taught me that blowing my own horn was sinful.

So imagine my reluctance to write my bio. Major trauma! I was conflicted to the max.

What I did was to wait 90 to 120 minutes. My biorhythms switched over. Then I wrote down the following facts:

Paul Dale Anderson is the author of The Instruments of Death series of police procedurals from Crossroad Press, the Winds Cycle of supernatural thrillers, and other genre novels and short stories.

Do I need to say anything more?

I could say I’m a panelist this year at Odyssey Con, StokerCon, Thrillerfest, MidAmericon2, Bouchercon, and World Fantasy Con. I could say my stories have appeared in major anthologies and genre magazines, and I have two published collections of short stories available and another in the works.

The reason I’m asking these questions is because others have asked me to supply bios. I have pitch sessions scheduled with several agents and editors who also want bios.

And because some readers have asked me to tell them more about myself. Like the Lone Ranger, I have hidden behind masks. Much of my early work was written under pseudonyms. I’m a private person who prefers to work behind the scenes rather than on stage. I’m not comfortable showing my face in public.

In short, I keep shooting myself in my own foot.

Intellectually, I realize I need to blow my own horn. If I don’t do it, who will?

The solution, of course, is to hire a publicist. Does anyone know a good publicist who works cheap?

Meanwhile, I guess I’ll have to limp along as best I can.

I’ll need to be diligent and work harder. And I’ll need to develop a swelled head so I can act confident when I appear in public.

And that brings me to the theme of this short tale: Why writers need swelled heads.

There are simply too many books out there for readers to choose which to buy without some guarantee they won’t waste their time and money on trash. Readers want to know in advance what else the author has done and if that work proved successful. Someone has to introduce the writer to the reader and tell the reader good things about the writer.

In today’s marketplace, that someone is often the writer himself or herself.

Publishers have reduced the money they spend on publicity in order to maximize profits. These days, writers have to arrange and pay for their own book tours, including attendance at conventions and bookstore signings. Midlist authors like me aren’t considered worth the investment.

How can I convince them otherwise? Write a blockbuster best-seller that earns millions and gets made into a major motion picture.

Do I have the confidence and diligence to make that happen?

I’ll have a chance to find out next week when I pitch proposals to agents, editors, and film-makers at StokerCon. I’ll have another chance in July when I pitch at Pitchfest during Thrillerfest in NYC.

So, please excuse me if I seen to have developed a swelled head. I’ll need it if I want to overcome my impostor syndrome and become the best-selling author I want to be and think I can be.

Wish me and my swelled head luck. We’ll both  need it.


3 thoughts on “Why Writers Need Swelled Heads

  1. I’m the same way, Paul. Tomorrow I have a radio show, and I’m already sick over it. I HATE talking about myself. I’d much rather talk about my characters. It makes me wonder how many other writers feel the same way. Is hiding behind our characters a trait among authors? Perhaps. But you’re right. If we don’t blow our own horn, especially someone as accomplished as you, then who will? It’s a lot easier to say than do, though. Best of luck! I’ll be rooting for you.


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