I have read a fair amount of Lovecraft’s works and I have been watching some animated versions on YouTube lately (see the May 9 Saturday Night Special for an example; more are forthcoming). Also, within the past few years, as a soon-to-be novelist, I am becoming familiar with how critical publicity is to the success of an author.
I suppose my subconscious has been working in the background, but a thought occurred to me this morning out of the blue. Maybe why Lovecraft was not successful in his time was because he lacked publicity, at least I am not aware of any publicity campaigns he undertook.
It has been said that Lovecraft was unappreciated in his time, because people did not recognize the quality of his writing. It seems to me that the reason that the public did not appreciate might be because they didn’t know it existed. Though I am no Lovecraft scholar, does anyone know where his work was mentioned outside of the magazine in which it was currently appearing? For that matter, does anyone know of an instance where Lovecraft submitted his work to a more highly-respected magazine than Weird Tales or other pulp fiction mills? Does anyone know of Lovecraft being interviewed on the radio or in a magazine. Maybe he did all of the above, but I never heard about it. Of course, there’s the fact that Lovecraft never wrote a full-length novel (depending on your definition of a novel, of course). Then his publisher would have had to drum up some publicity for him at least.
Instead, like any lonely geek, he stayed in his room, writing his letters and stories, submitting the latter to magazines, I suppose at every opportunity, and sending the former to his friends who were also writers.
I see this same characteristic among many other writers I have met over the years. They write quality work, but because writers frequently tend to be introverts, they either avoid publicity, because it makes them uncomfortable, or, being naturally humble, they don’t have faith in their works. They lack confidence.
I wonder how the literary world would have changed had Lovecraft taken the publicity avenues that were available to him then.
I wonder how many undiscovered Lovecrafts are living now in ignominy because of their unfamiliarity with the numerous ways to publicize themselves today or that haven’t had the confidence in themselves or their works to sally forth with a novel, which might make a world of difference to their careers and lives.
I don’t want to seem unsympathetic (being something of an introvert myself), but the problem boils down to the old military adage: “No guts, no glory”. A writer needs “glory” (of some type at least) in order to be successful.
Lovecraft is a good example of that.