Friday, May 13, 2016

You're Competing With Your Heroes.

Today's entertainment marketplace is the worst it has ever been. You are not only competing with other authors in your genre. You are not only competing with all authors writing genre fiction. You are not only competing with amateurs in all genres. You're competing with other entertainment media from all over the planet, both new and old.

Yes, including offerings by people long dead, offered for free. And no, not just via Project Guntenberg

Here, let me show you what this means:

Old radio plays, (contemporary) ad-free (actual ads of the day included), for free, whenever you want compete with you.

That's a full 1940 serial. For free. If it gets nuked, it will pop up again elsewhere soon; fighting this is pointless.

It is now impossible run out of entertainment due to the Internet.

You need to adjust your expectations, both of what success is and what you need to do to get and grow that success. This is why your personal brand matters, and therefore why you need to be far more extroverted than what being an author usually required in the past few generations. It isn't a refuge for chronic introverts and shut-ins anymore. You need the hustle of the pulp magazine writers of nearly a century ago (who could, and did, write multiple novels a month for the magazines), be shameless in your self-promotion, and be on the scene daily to keep abreast of the spirit of the times.

And yet you also need to know what your audience actually is, and be as shameless in providing that audience what they want from you as you are in promoting yourself. The merchandise? Get on that shit as soon as the demand arises; make and sell the T-shirts, the posters, and so on. They like your stuff enough to want to wear it, and thus pay to be your billboard. Take their money, thank them kindly, and pay bills with it. Use the blog to keep in contact with your audience and give advanced notice of things you're making or events you're doing.

Finally, for today, this: you need to play the long game. You don't know if you will become famous after you die. You have to go in under the assumption that your work will be valuable after you're dead, and prepare now to have your works managed by trustees after you die. That means a meeting with a lawyer, and legal documents drawn up, so that your body of work isn't left to the State to mess with (as we see now with Prince). Just as you now compete against your heroes, successors will come up to compete with you- their hero.

The Internet is Forever.

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