Thursday, December 11, 2014

Worshiping the Data Gods

Can we just throw out the phrase "aspiring writer" please?

If you write stuff, congratulations.  You're a writer.  There's no paperwork to fill out, no license application.  If you write things down, you're a writer, end of story. 

If you want people to read your stuff, you need to make it available to them in some form.  Fantastic.  You now have a readership.  If it's good, your audience will grow.

While researching agents and publishing houses, I have read a lot of interviews and what to do and what to not do and what makes your query stand out and 'what are you looking for' articles, and all this talk of market and platform and online presence gives me the fucking creeps.  

I read the work marketable and I want to throw up in my lap.  I read the word platform and I seriously want to punch myself in the balls.  I wrote this book because I thought I had something to say about art and life and addiction and masculinity and the strange, frustrating impulse we have to latch on to one another even though its not always in our own interest.  I don't know how other people do it, but I wanted to show readers a little of myself, and maybe hold up a strange mirror so they can see themselves in my words too.

I am not against success.  When Antiartists gets published, if it sells a million copies and becomes a huge Hollywood hit, that's awesome, just tell me where to sign.  But it won't happen because I engage with people on social media, or harass my friends and neighbors to push it on to others.  It will happen because I wrote well, I touched readers, I moved people.  This digital world that people seem to believe we all live in is a dream.  The digital world is filled with too much noise to ever send a clear signal out.

Does anyone remember organic growth?  Are we all too busy worshiping the data gods that we forgot that relationships and hard work move people better than any marketing plan?      

Writers write for many reasons, and maybe for some it's to hit it big and sell a million books and to spend your life managing your business, but that's a fucking long shot. If becoming JK Rowling is your five year plan, I wish you all the best, I really do.   I just want to tell stories and share ideas. 

But remember this though, you know the name Harry Potter not because she sent out tweet spam and bugged the shit out of people on Facebook. You know Harry Potter because something about his world, the world that Rowling created, moved people, made them believe, made them want more.  She touched people with her words and ideas, not with her market share and trending. 

Still writing,

RP   

4 comments:

  1. Yeah, the marketing thing sucks. Seems like the shittier you are, the more aggressive and manipulative you need to be about promoting yourself. The way you put yourself out there is also going to determine your audience; putting promotion over content will attract an audience that is more likely to eat what ever falls in their mouth with little regard for how it tastes.

    There are very few instances of artists finding an audience based on merit alone…just look at the successes of Picasso vs Braque. Putting yourself out there is important, and i think you can do it actively and genuinely. Seems like the struggle for mindful creatives is to break the association between manipulation and genuine promotion. The practice of marketing tends to soil the idea of genuine promotion, and those who are the most deserving of an audience are the least likely to do the things which will help their audience find them. I mean, people always say “you need to find your audience,” but isn’t it the other way around?

    Your audience is out there, but they need your help. They need you to keep lighting fires so they can find you in the abyss.

    Isn’t this a theme of your book, sort of?

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    1. I agree with you in that it is important to continue to put the work out there in order to find an audience, and that promotion of one's work can be done genuinely and thoughtfully without the creepy prostitution angle. And as threatening as that can seem to me, I do understand that it is a necessary part of this process. The whole purpose of writing is for people to read it, so it needs to be made available for your readers. I understand that and I believe it to be true.

      It seems, however that the internet and social media aspect has taken the forefront of everyone's attention, and I do not believe that these outlets are the answer that everyone seems to be seeking.

      Nearly everyone is online; this makes digital and social media marketing no different than any other kind of promotion, in the sense that the internet audience is so vast and wide ranging (however somewhat skewed to more affluent segments of society in terms of access etc) that reaching an audience online is the same as trying to reach an audience in the physical world. I think that it is part of the answer, but it is by no means a panacea for the ills with which the publishing industry is afflicted.

      And all of this is just squawking anyway; I have yet to find a publishing outlet that wants my book, so I essentially have no content for my audience to find.

      YET.

      Cheers, RP

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  2. What about just damn good luck! That happens too.

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    1. Nah; I used all my luck finding my wife. Totally worth it, too.

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