Okay, I have to admit, I kinda got pissed when I read a blog post about marketing your work, and, yes, I did kinda take it personal, because it continues to perpetuate a train of thought, a mindset that so many seem so eager to promulgate and promote, and which can be (well, I feel it actually already is…) very damaging to writers. I have nothing personal against the author of the post, but I simply cannot allow certain things to be said and let the masses rally around behind without another point of view given. I love writing and the publishing world—to an extent. I, do, however, heartily disagree and take issue with certain points of view and feel I have to counter certain issues that always arise, however, and this is one of them.
And, I must say, I am saddened by those who continue to buy into them…though understand how this can happen.
So, here is the comment I posted:
Jennifer, sorry, but I really must take issue with the following: “…there is no reason to gamble on a new or mid-list writer, which means little-to-no marketing money.”
If there’s one thing I’ve found in my 52 years of life, and almost as many years writing and observing this and other industries is that anyone can sell anything if they put enough resources into the effort. If “resources” means money, so be it, if “resources” mean thought, so be it. I know all about how mid-list writers fulfill an important part in the overall book world, but–it seems to me–the bottom line should be if publishers don’t want to put any resources behind something they take on, then they shouldn’t have taken on the work to begin with. It does so much–sometimes irreparable–damage to a writer and their career, if they don’t sell through on their first book. Gee, it used to be their first two or three books. Now it’s down to one. Why is that, I rhetorically inquire?
There’s “little-to-no marketing money” because bean counters and execs are throwing all their money on “sure bets” (and I used “bets” intentionally, over “things”). Come on, does a King, Rowling, or Patterson really need all the resources they actually get, once it’s announced a new work [from them] is available? Can some of those resources be better spent on others who don’t yet have the market recognition, but are every bit as good? I’m sorry but saying something like that (again, IMHO) is picking low-hanging fruit. The problem involved in today’s book industry (as is elsewhere evident) is in the mindset of those running “the shows.” It’s not that there’s no money. If there really was “no money” then no one would be getting any of the millions being dumped into promotion of the Big Dogs. If it’s “so easy” and “low cost” for the Nobody Writer to do social media, etc., then why don’t the Big Five partake in it? Hire unpaid interns (if this is still the practice; low-paid, otherwise) to create these campaigns for the works these companies take on? Or, hey, here’s a thought, maybe take on less authors?…only those authors whose work publishers really do believe in, and are willing to actually devote some resources (including real thought) to in the first place, instead of throwing their works again public walls like so much partially cooked spaghetti?
ANYTHING can be sold.
And, no, we all know but perhaps don’t readily admit to ourselves, no, the product doesn’t even have to be good! Do we really need $4 coffee? Bigger screen TVs? Do we really N.E.E.D. these things?
People buy what’s put in front of them. If they have choices eliminated from them, intentionally not put in front of them, how can they even consider them?
So, with all due respect to you, Jennifer, and all the others out there who feel the same as you, and will heartily disagree with me and my kind, and try to rip me a new one with “stats, and facts, and whatever” (stats and facts and whatever can all be manipulated; I used to work with them, and know firsthand how they can, indeed, be manipulated), there are reasons, very good ones, to gamble on new writers, because there is good, undiscovered writing out there…writing that is not formulaic and is every bit as powerful as the “sure bets.” Writing that is profound and thoughtful and funny as hell. This industry loves—thrives—on blaming the writer (their work isn’t “ready,” the writer isn’t “big enough,” the writer doesn’t have a “platform,” etc.), but sometimes it’s not the writer…it’s the Gatekeepers. Yes, all kinds of “holes” can be poked in my position, it’s all been said before, but it’s not about whether or not holes can be poked into my argument. There is another way of doing business…it’s just intentionally being overlooked.