Monday, August 22, 2011

Is Indie Publishing A Distraction?

Is Indie Publishing A Distraction?

Yes. God, yes.

Let's just get that clear off the bat. Indie publishing is new and shiny. New things are exciting, invigorating, and they change everything. And you have to learn about them. And, and, and....

When I started this blog, it was with a depressed acceptance that the publishing industry was hopelessly dorked, but I didn't want to do anything else (I'd tried), so I was going to soldier on like an existential hero who realizes that there is no meaning in life, no honor, no fairness, no pattern, no purpose. All that matters is what you do, yourself.

And then along came Indie Publishing, and Existentialism went out the window, baby. Holy Moly, did publishing suddenly have all the meaning you could want in the world. Suddenly it was time to get serious about the career again. (Not that I wasn't serious already, but I'd been around publishing long enough that it was old hat.) It wasn't just that hope was back. It was that suddenly you didn't even need hope. The odds are now in the writer's favor. Forget hope, and get on with plans.

But life doesn't really take on meaning just because it's more fun. Life isn't even about what you plan or aspire to. In the end, all that matters is what you do. Yourself. True in good times as well as bad.

I say this because over this summer I cut back significantly on my internet activity. Four things happened to coincide with this: The number of visits to my blog sank a little -- as expected. My reading time increased dramatically. My writing efforts ... stayed the same. Maybe even got worse.

And my sales improved.

Not a lot. But considering that you expect a summer dip in numbers, it would seem to be more than a seasonal fluke. So....

I've decided to stop investing meaning in numbers. Sure I'll be happy when my sales or blog stats go up. But it's not my job to make them go up. It's my job to write -- both my fiction and my blog. And yes, theoretically that will make the numbers go up, eventually, but that's not my job. It's not something I do. When it becomes something I do, then I'm not a writer, I'm a marketer, and my writing is no longer the thing with meaning.

There's a famous quote from August Wilson: "You're entitled to the work, not the reward."

You said it Auggie.

What matters is what you do. Yourself.

So I'm in the process of reestablishing patterns of what I do. Striking out the things I do because they might be good for my platform or because I think they'll be good for sales. Yes, I'll still do some very low maintenance stuff: I'll still tweet blog posts. I'll also continue my low-level advertising, but I do that to support the sites I'm advertising on, not so much to get numbers of my own.

This blog will probably evolve back to something closer than it started. (Not that it has moved that a far away. I never could bring myself to turn it into a "platform.") It's my kitchen. I post what I'm thinking at the time, and I probably will go back to posting daily writing progress again. I'm taking a recharge right now, but the goal is not to get more readers. The goal is to write. Because that's what matters, and that's what I'm entitled to.

See you in the funny papers.


Jamie D. said...

I've found the same thing, more or less. The less I try to "sell" and just keep writing and do what I like, the better sales are. When I get the urge to "try" to bump sales up, it often backfires, with a very few exceptions.

Which makes no sense, really, considering how well some heavy-hitting promoters do, but I'll take it. Because I sure am happier not worrying about "selling" my books, but rather just writing & publishing them...

Happy writing. I always enjoy your posts, no matter what you post on.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Jamie.

I think one of the things that has shifted for me, is not so much the "stop trying to sell your books" thing -- I've got that. But because I enjoy a lot of other things to do with marketing, I find myself worrying about the more indirect things.

For instance, I find myself making decisions about the blog with the idea of "blog success" rather than just letting it be the journal it is.

David Michael said...

I once got cranky with my optometrist and told her that "I don't like being treated as a profit center."

I mean, sure, I *am* a profit-center for her. But that doesn't mean I want to be reminded of it every time I turn around.

And I think of that every time I find I'm doing something purely to "build platform".

I'm OK with the knowledge that I'll never be one of the "Popular Blogs". My blog is just my blog. Mostly about writing. Sometimes about other things. Always by me, though, and usually about me. And if not about me directly, at least something I've been thinking about.


The Daring Novelist said...

Yes, we are happy with our vetrinarian who is NOT into coming up with all sorts of new crap to put our cats through.

I'm trying to move even further away from all of that for this year. I'm going to turn off the "but what would my blog readers think of that?" response.

I mean, it's nice to think "Gee, my sales will go up if I just ignore them" but I need to break that too. "So the $(%# what if my sales tank and blog hits go down?" needs to be my mantra.

David Michael said...

Failure is TOO an option! :)


The Daring Novelist said...


(Well, I always did say that failure is not optional -- i.e. it's required....)