I've been trying all day to think of humorous spin I could put on the story of this dude who deliberately shot himself to promote his book, but it disturbs me on so many levels that I can't think about it without feeling sick. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing, or self-promoting, or taking a shot at any dream you have. Everyone has the right to pursue their dreams. Taking a shot at yourself because you think it's a nifty shortcut to fame/fortune/success, however, is not the way to get there.
Writing is a solitary art, and I've always been grateful to the internet for making it less lonely. When I was chasing my dreams I didn't have other writer people to hang with, so for me it's always been a privilege to be here. I practically witnessed the birth of the online writing community, from the first day I logged on to Prodigy and started reading the message boards back in '94. At the time I was too shy and scared to talk to anyone, but it still seemed like a miracle, to be able to read other writers' stuff and follow discussions and know that it wasn't just me doing this.
When digital self-publishing became available for free to anyone, I knew it would change the industry. I even made some predictions about it. I also saw this evolution/revolution dividing the writing community into separate camps, exactly as e-book publishing did when it joined the market twelve years ago, and that happened, too. Sometimes I get so disgusted with the name-callers and the snobbery and this "every writer for themselves" attitude that I start thinking everyone in the industry is like that, and I know they're not. You all have taught me that.
Reading the story about the guy who shot himself for self-promotion confused me. I thought to do something like that he must have no friends at all. Or if he does, he doesn't talk to them anymore. Or he got so caught up in this crazy idea that he cut himself off from everyone. I don't know. I'm a pretty solitary, independent soul, but even I can't wrap my head around it.
Anyway, because of this story I come to you today with a favor to ask. It's not a big one, and it will only cost you a few minutes of your time. When you have a chance, get in touch with someone else in the writing or reader community. It doesn't matter who it is; pick someone you know at random if you like. Send them an e-mail, drop a comment on their blog, Twitter them, Facebook them, whatever is convenient for you. And when you do this, try to share something positive. Tell them a joke. Recommend a great book you've just read. If you can't think of anything, ask how things are going with them. Basically, be their online friend.
For all the changes we're going through, we're not alone in this. We are a community, and we do care about each other, and sometimes I think we need to be reminded of that.