The Sometimes Unseemly Art of Self-Promotion | James Casper | IPNovels.com
There is nothing new about writers promoting themselves and their writing. Writers have only recently had television talk shows, Internet, and Facebook, but they have always found ways of bringing themselves to public attention.
Notoriety was one way: Sir Thomas Malory is reported to have written Le Morte d’Arthur while in prison for a variety of crimes, both petty and sensational. Two centuries later Sir Thomas More wrote A Dialogue for Comfort while imprisoned in the London Tower awaiting execution. (N.B. strategies not recommended for Ignatius Press novelists!)
Otherwise, with nothing electronic or digital in the picture, friends in high places could do it; tours on the highways and byways could do it; posters and handbills could do it; hanging around with notoriously drunken companions could do it. Whatever the risks, whatever it was, and whatever worked, writers have done it. The creative arts have seldom been a place for recluses and wallflowers. Reputations were built in the manner of cathedrals, from elevated platforms, often self-erected.
Chaucer did it by snagging positions at the English Court and passing his poems around with targeted dedications. Shakespeare flattered patrons. If we knew much of anything about Homer from two thousand years before, we would probably discover he did the same. Benjamin Franklin charmed Paris as a diplomat.
Closer to the present, Charles Dickens travelled twice to America to put on what amounted to a roadshow of dramatic readings. He got as far west as St. Louis. Oscar Wilde, who had yet to write much of anything, traipsed from one American city to another, lecturing with lily in hand and speaking with a languid, almost lisping drawl.