I was checking out how many websites were selling my latest book the other day when I noticed Amazon had listed me on Google as “Stephen Miller: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle”. Blog? I have never blogged in my life. I don’t even have a website. I have a Twitter account, but I’ve tweeted maybe 10 times in seven years and only have seven followers. What are they following?
Do I have to put more effort into creating more ads for myself? I am not a recluse who hates publicity. Fifteen years ago, I had a few minutes of fame thanks to a book I wrote about conversation. I have appeared on “CBS Sunday Morning” and radio shows on three continents. At the Melbourne Writers Festival, I was interviewed by Robert Dessaix, a prominent Australian writer, in a crowded theater on the art of conversation.
Maybe one day I’ll pay someone to create a website for me, but I doubt I’ll try to write a blog because I know I can’t produce sharp, informative and witty texts on a regular basis. . I have a lot of opinions, but I prefer to express them in conversation. I’m willing to risk talking about issues that I don’t know much about, but I’m not willing to write about them.
Plus, does the world need another blogger? Twitter alone has over 200 million daily active users. The internet has generated a great deal of unwanted opinion. Call it the world’s blah-blah-blah.
Still, relatively unknown authors who don’t have a strong online presence are likely to have a hard time finding a publisher for their books. Two years ago an agent told a friend of mine that she would only accept her manuscript if he had 2,000 people reading her blog. My friend started blogging even though he had no interest in doing so.
Even if I tried harder to have an online presence, it probably wouldn’t work because the software used by online booksellers often doesn’t distinguish between the different Stephen Millers who write books. If you google for “Stephen Miller Writer” you will get my correct date of birth, but you will see a photo of another Stephen Miller who writes novels. Google lists me as the author of several films, including “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed”, although I have never written a screenplay. On other websites, I am listed as the author of a book on medical technology, a book on how to make a cafe, and a biography of Dolly Parton.
It used to drive me crazy that there was so much misinformation about me online, but now I appreciate the confusion. Readers may think I am a Renaissance man.
Although I don’t blog, I sometimes get a hint of envy when at the end of a post I read that you can find the author on Twitter or Instagram, although I don’t know what Instagram is.
When I worry about not promoting myself enough, I think of Walt Whitman’s lines in âSong of Myselfâ: âIf you still want me, look for me under your boot soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean. Whitman, however, was a self-promoter – he published a few anonymous reviews in New York newspapers praising “Leaves of Grass.” If he was alive today, he would probably be a blogger.
Mr. Miller’s latest book is “Rollercoaster: A Life in Twenty-Nine Jobs”.
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Published in the print edition of December 15, 2021.