Saturday, November 27, 2010

A war for middle ground, begat by tiny green demons

In a previous post, I mentioned a resolution to double the writing I had already completed this month, which at the time was two blog posts (one here, one on bleacher report) and three chapters of the novel. On yesterday evening, I fulfilled that goal. For those of you so inclined, at least some of the evidence is here. The chapters (which now number six and an introduction) you'll just have to take my word for. It's coming along. I told a friend about how surreal the process was of taking a chapter from its roughest, least realized state to something I was much, much happier with. And so, one piece at a time, I'm building me a road.

The destination I've always been confident in knowing, but the dips and curves, the climate and conditions, those have always been foggy, to use a pun. The other day, on an email group I'm plugged into, one of those terribly long streams was compiled and compiled and sent to me. I try to keep abreast of such things in as far as figuring out what the conversation was about and where it was going, in most general terms. This one had to do with some discussion board somewhere, or shall I say a battle field, and on opposing sides were mixed groups of readers and authors.

And even that isn't most accurate; the group/forum/board belongs to the veteran, most-involved posters the way a city belongs to people. They don't own it in any pure or true sense, but it's where they eat and sleep so they feel very responsible for it. And there was a gripe, a long-standing grudge that had finally boiled over, against authors who would come by and take advantage of the significant readership and dive bomb self promotions. At the beginning of the email I received, the other authors seemed concerned about what this meant and how it could be addressed, but ultimately divulged into a movement to go over, en masse, and post the first group into some sort of submission, or at least, understand what all the fuss was about. Naturally, the innocent curiosity and calm explanations were responded to with bullet-shaped rebuttals. As usual, it was two groups failing to empathize with one another.

The people on the group are there to discuss specific genre fiction. To talk to each other about the sorts of things they like to read, and everyone is welcome to do so. At some point, someone realized it was a good place to promote one's work, and the stream became a flood, hence the hubbub. The authors, at least the ones I heard from, were trying to understand how best to market to their readers, and began by explaining their position, which was contractual obligation to overturn every stone in search of promotional gold (because as they belong to smaller houses, there is no money to pay for advertising, or at least, desperately little), and a societal drive to make as much money as possible within whatever subjectively reasonable means (we are, after all, Americans). It was overall a sad and negative situation.

I'm hoping against hope at this point that my March release comes to fruition. I think to myself that there's little to stop it, but evidence in the past has showed me otherwise. And when that time comes, I will be expected to engage in some level of promotion somewhere (I would like to, after all, actually make a living doing this; read: make money doing this). To that end, I read the entire multi-page post, even the deleted comments, and picked up some decent bits. Apparently, there are places that review books if they're given a free copy. I will likely harvest double-digit numbers of these places, and send them copies. Of course those will be free for them, not free for me, which illustrates one of the sticking points in that very lengthy dramatization. The authors asked "Well, what if you don't have money for promotion?" and the readers replied "Tough." What's the old saying? You have to spend money to make money? Perhaps a better plan would be to make enough money to move away from this place, somewhere pastoral and imaginary.

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