Discover more from Project: Shadow
But what if no one cares...
Write, Promote, Remix, Repeat...
Do we share only to receive?
Are our words just a gift?
In the dead of night, we deceive
ourselves into believing
they are proof we lived.
I know so many writers who dream of making a living off their words. I know even more who just want to gather up a crowd to listen to what they have come up with now. Disappointment fills their eyes and voices as they discuss the perceived failure of their work… but have they really failed?
Having been on both sides of the aisle, I know what it feels like to sell thousands of copies of a book no one remembers and to sell only a handful of a book I will never forget. In their own way, both hurt, but given the realities of capitalism, one tends to hurt more than the other.
I want to believe the propaganda that good stories will win out in the end, but the problem is, it isn’t the good stories or even the great stories that win the race. It is the story that hits at the right time and has just enough ruby dust sprinkled on it by the fairies that control the markets.
story is not the hard part…
Stories loom in the shadows like specters waiting to strike when we are least prepared to write them. They taunt us in our dreams and stalk us throughout our days, waiting for their time to strike us down with the true terror of the writing process… what if no one cares or worse, what if everyone hates it?
The real enemy of the writer isn’t the story or even the indifference of the market. The real enemy is time.
Do we have the time to market the story as much as we need to find a reader? Any reader, let alone the readers who will love the story enough to tell everyone they know about it and spread us into the community that awaits a story like the one we wrote. Time is our real enemy.
There are so many stories…
We aren’t the only ones writing. Not only are we competing against other writers, but against all the content farms and the poor fools who have fallen for the low effort book mill scams that promise an easy path to riches that will never manifest into reality.
There are so many stories and only so many readers. Like spawning salmon, we send our books upstream through the dangers and difficulties where they mix in with the jumbled mess of all the other stories, desperately looking for a reader, a community of readers. Honestly, any bookshelf will do, but how does our story stand out?
How do we find an audience?
If I gave you a quick fix or a straightforward solution to the problem here, you would know that I am a liar. Yes, there are tips and tricks to setting up a sales funnel and things you can do to lure unsuspecting victims to fall down into the web, but there are no easy tricks to get people to read or even love your work.
Write with your voice, don’t barrow one from some else, it will not help you in the long run.
Love your work or don’t expect anyone else to even care.
Use every trick you can learn to make images, clips, videos, whatever you can that will entertain people, then share those.
DON’T ALWAYS BE SELLING… there is nothing more annoying than someone who only shows up to shill a product.
ALWAYS BE SELLING… no one will buy your work if they don’t know it is for sale.
Okay, yeah, those last too are in conflict, but if you have problems with paradoxes and ambiguity, marketing and fiction markets might not be for you.
Embrace the paradox
That’s the devil’s bargain at the heart of the creative life. Certainty isn’t our business, and anyone who tells you otherwise is making their money off you.
Disney makes it look easy, but when you have hundreds of millions of dollars to make a thing and hundreds of millions more to market it, it is impossible not to be noticed. We don’t have that kind of luxury. We can only do what we can to promote our work.
There is only one tried and true, scientifically proven element that brings success, and that is persistence. Just don’t give up. That is simultaneously the hardest and easiest thing to do.
Harlan Ellison once described writers as insidious hornets that buzz and buzz to attract attention and sting, injecting our ideas into the minds of others, hoping our words will haunt them for the rest of their lives. We have to buzz and with have to sting. That is who we are. The more we fight against our basic nature, the harder we make it on ourselves. Harlan will haunt my nightmares if I don’t also remind us we need to get paid too.
Let’s write our stories and talk about them with all the joy of a teenager discovering a new song by their favorite band while we work on the next thing. What else can we do? We’ve written our names in fire on the book of creation. We have to fulfill our side of the contract.