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Respecting my Readers and Killing Opportunity

I don’t like mailing lists.

I don’t want to send blasts of information to people who follow me, because if they wanted to know what I was doing they could just check on my blog.

This, as you may know, is not very good business practice. This, as you are fully aware, is going to kill my ability to advertise my books and my work, since if I’m not blasting people in the face with new books and things I’ll never be a signal inside the massive cloud of noise that is today’s digital publishing universe.

With EVOLVED finally published, I am in the post-production aspects of marketing that really started a few months ago. You know the industry terms: Generating buzz! Enticing readers! Making an impact!

I love the psychological aspects of marketing but I really hate the practice of marketing. For people who are writers, marketing is a soul-sucking exercise in waving your arms wildly for attention. I have to do that enough with myself just to give myself the confidence to persevere and finish a body of work; I don’t want to do that with people online. That’s all I see from other writers out there, clinging desperately to a facade of enthusiasm as they flood their social media and mailing lists and websites with advertisements for their work. It’s like we’re not even following people anymore, just units of individuality all hustling for a sale in the digital bazaar that the internet has become.

How do you generate signal when the whole world is just noise?

How do you develop a “cult” following for your stories and titles when you are just one of a thousand other authors just trying to make it?

I answered this in a recent episode of Coping with Creativity. The answer is quantity and quality. The answer is practice. The answer is perseverance. Keep writing, but most importantly, keep writing well.

Patience is the name of the game, and as such, the grind of writing must drive you. If you are in it for the destination then you are going to be sorely disappointed. Once you publish that book you should feel a sense of release. Let it go, and move on to the next project. Raise your kids and set them free. Stay in touch, sure, but let them be their own people. Stop hustling for them.

I’m back to the beginning of a project, and that enthusiasm that was once there when I started a project is now tempered with the heavy hand of experience. I know what I’m in for this time. The emotional highs. The soul-crushing lows. The confidence. The lack of confidence. I know it’s all there because I’ve been down this road before.

It’s like running on your favorite route. You know where you’re going to get tired. You know where you’re going to smile. You know what to expect. And yet each run is still different somehow. Once you’ve gone running more times than you can count, eventually you forget about the fact that there’s a start and a finish and you realize that it’s the run that matters–the grind that drives you. I like to run, and it feels good once I’m done running. And you know what? I look forward to the next one.

I like keeping a blog because I like to ramble. I also really enjoy the feedback people leave for me. Conversations with readers who like my work are some of the most humbling experiences I have in life. All it takes is one, you know? One reader, who really enjoys your work, to make it all worth it.

I wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to worry about selling ourselves, about marketing our work and hustling in the digital landscape of entertainment goods. So I just don’t do it. Will I see less? Of course I will. But I don’t do this for money. I make art for the sake of art. We all do, whether we know it or not.

So don’t worry about opportunity. Just make your art.

Forget about whether or not your work will sell. Just make your art.

Think about what makes you happy. If it’s your art, then here’s a bold idea:

Just make your art.

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