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Social networking overload… And the process of writing a book – Daniel Hammarberg

Social networking overload… And the process of writing a book – Daniel Hammarberg

A week ago I finished writing a book that I’m now promoting, and for that reason I decided to seriously enter the world of social networking, having up until this point shunned the idea. I mean, I’m not a very social person, and when I read on Facebook about someone taking their dog for a walk, my only thought is “what the hell do I care about that?”

As I was writing my book, I had opted for an independent approach, self-publishing it as an E-book at first and then putting it in print when I had a couple of noteworthy recommendations available to put on the back cover. So as I had finished it, I made a sensationalistic summary of the contents of the book – up on – and went through the unexpected work of getting all the formatting right for Amazon’s Kindle device. For the release plan, I had become satisfied with the idea of posting information about it on a couple of discussion forums and contacting a small number of media people. From my own perspective, if I wasn’t a Swedish citizen and got to hear about a book that was something completely different from the positive portrayal the Swedish government usually presents of itself, I would be very interested. So, I expected this to be enough.

However, the first couple of days, I only got a handful of sales when I had expected business to take off like a rocket. In a bit of despair, I ranted about my hardships on, and to my delight, there was a person there that offered me plenty of advice, blessed be his soul. He obviously noticed what a rookie I was to this business and gave me step-by-step advice on how to go about it. So I sign up for a number of social networking sites in preparation of spending a little money on advertising. I figure any such money might be wasted if I don’t already have a net presence, so now I start thinking about how to establish myself. And then I’m struck with the information overload that is social networking and how much time people seem to be spending on it.

I was never interested in anything else than the actual content I found, but now I started paying attention to all the “like” buttons, the “tweets” and such, and wonder just how much work it’s going to be establishing myself this way. How will I get people to press “like” as well as “tweet” and “digg” on my content? I don’t like having to promote myself! I only like doing the actual writing.. I guess it’s a blessing that I’m quite comfortable with that though, I suppose it comes with being an introvert. So here I stand, or sit rather, disgruntled at the prospect of having to become acquainted with something I don’t like doing. In my own world, everything is neatly organized – I’m proficient at researching and organizing material, and I feel I have a very good grasp of the world – a good understanding of both history and the present.

In this world of social networking, things aren’t like that though. People don’t come visit me even though I tell them to. What does a man have to do for someone to “digg” his material? Well, maybe I should put up a “digg” button first, I don’t think I’ve done that yet. I guess it might have something to do with one’s safety zone – the satisfaction of knowing one’s way around one area while being completely lost in the other. So I sit here thinking that maybe a little stream of consciousness writing will help. After all, people might be fed up with politics and require becoming acquainted with any author before actually diving into his or her political writing. Maybe if I make a couple of posts about nothing and remind my hypothetical audience now and then about my book, they will buy it.

Maybe by now, assuming people are still reading, some might have become curious about the book. And I guess this isn’t a proper place to describe it in the same tabloid-like manner as I did on the Amazon page, which is why I will talk a little about how I came about writing it. For a long time, I’ve been quite critical of today’s Sweden, and nothing else has outraged me as much as the lack of freedom of speech here, with the “hate laws” under which you can be incarcerated for simply “expressing disrespect” for a minority group, including immigrants in general. It’s been taken for granted in the Western world that you’re free to discuss topics at heart, and express your political views. Sweden seems to have forgotten all about that with all the people who have gone to prison for their views. Yet somehow it doesn’t strike everyday man as wrong that the government sends them to prison.. I don’t quite get how people can be oblivious to something of this sort.

Over the years, I’ve grown dissatisfied with my country in many other areas as well, and as time went by, I felt I just had to become a participant in the country’s political discourse. Unfortunately I found that dissidents don’t have much of a place in today’s Sweden – apart from the threat of being deprived of liberty by a court of law for the things you say, the trade unions (just about all of which are run by the Social Democrats) and public authorities will go after you in other ways. If they find out that you’re one of the dissidents, or “extremists” as they like to call us, they will make you a pariah. One day it struck me that perhaps there wasn’t much point to attempting to become a part of the national debate. Maybe there was an audience outside of Sweden that would be interested in hearing the perspective of an independent in this country, on life in the esteemed Swedish welfare state.

This eventually led to me starting to write this book the first couple of days of April this year, finishing a little more than six months later. I gathered government statistics, government reports, written works on events in recent Swedish history, newspaper stories, underground accounts of crackdowns on unwanted political expressions and such, and in a somewhat chaotic manner, I started composing texts based on this material that would later become sections of chapters or even complete chapters in themselves. Over time, the structure crystallized more and more, and I settled on a division into twelve chapters, under which the various texts were placed in a coherent manner.

I found the work a bit drudgery at times when I had decided to include something, yet wasn’t too keen on spending the time writing about it; but I knew that if I didn’t force myself through it all, I would never end up with a finished product. The work did have its upsides, of course, especially when I felt I had managed to write about something in an interesting and entertaining way. Another driving force was also the satisfaction I felt with having come closer to being able to strike back at “the man.” That is not to say that I’m rabidly anti-authoritarian, it’s just that I’m disillusioned beyond repair with the Swedish establishment.

At times I wondered why I was writing something for which I didn’t have a publisher, but then I felt I had to do something; I simply can’t just accept the state of things with my country going down the drain, without putting up some form of resistance. The pen is mightier than the sword, or so they say.. Easy if you’re actually legally allowed to distribute what you’ve produced with your pen. I’ve been able to observe a clear trend, in that as speech has become ever more curtailed, some people have opted for the sword in favour of the pen. I don’t want to go there myself. So, in the absence of media coverage that would let me just speak what’s on my mind in a straight-forward manner, I’ll put my hope in this book becoming a success.

Which brings us back to the start – the business of promoting something. I can’t say I’ve got much of a tangible plan for how to make this happen – but feeling a bit out of ideas today, I thought that writing such as this, unrelated to either news or advertising, would make for a good filler on my intended blog. I’m pretty much the opposite of a news-hound, and I can’t ever see myself getting so worked up over daily events that I could comment on them day in and day out. One’s perspective on things and the plans one makes for one’s life ought to be based on a more timeless focus. Already during my teen years, I felt that the reactions that mass media caused in me and other people through their reporting weren’t going to trap me in some part of their plan. The establishment wasn’t going to shove their perspective down my throat, neither would I get too caught up in recent events that I couldn’t make proper priorities.

Yet in this, I’ve now found myself in a dilemma. I detached myself from the media flood for the sake of being able to make proper assessments, ensuring that I got things right, yet the stance I’ve taken as an aspiring objective observer has also detached myself from much of my potential audience. Most people simply believe what they’re told – and whatever the media talks about, they take an interest in. Even if from my more thoughtful perspective, some concerns are of a great magnitude and have to be actively pursued, a rational analysis of what this means for people doesn’t spark much interest. Yet if the media repeats over and over that the old “Y2K” would mean airplanes crashing to the ground, and that the “swine flu” would become a worldwide calamity, people flock in droves to whomever will save them from it.

As stated, freedom of speech has been a great concern for me, but Western media has hardly covered its development in Europe the last decade and a half at all. Scores and scores of people have been sentenced to long prison sentences without much media attention. Yet when this Dutch politician Geert Wilders comes along and as a political ploy aggravates Muslims, which leads to the justice system starting to investigate the matter, he’s hailed all over the place as a supposed martyr, in spite of neither having been punished, nor having brought up constructive concerns that he really believes in. If Jesus had been the same kind of “martyr” as this man, he would have taken over the Roman empire.

An hour’s worth of stream of consciousness and 2’000 words written down, I guess this will do for now. But before you go – check out my book!

Daniel Hammarberg

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  • Daniel Hammarberg

    Thanks for the advice. Maybe I should try making PDF's available, but there's no copy protection in that, people could just spread it around. I guess it's worth one shot though, it's not like this is the only book I will write.

    I think Amazon frowns upon making books available in other ways though, I think they have some sort of system that searches the net for the book being sold by other companies or in other ways, and automatically sets the Amazon price vastly lower if so, I'll have to look into that.

    Btw, do you have any good information on selling books as PDF's? Some system that charges you $5 for a download or something?

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