Friday, January 27, 2017

The Hustling Part of the Writing Game

Independent author and Dragon Award winner Brian Niemeier, again putting down the reliable method for building yourself up in this business:

He would go on to post a link to the book of the man who asked that question, demonstrating the principle in action. Get used to this if you want to be part of this game, no matter what genre or niche you want to be part of in particular. The Big 5 (and their foreign counterparts) are all going down, as are the major bookstore chains that they've long worked with and through.

Even if you're with one of them, they aren't going to hustle on your behalf so you need to do it yourself- and if that is what you need to do, why the fuck are you giving them such a big cut? Go to a smaller house that isn't shambling like a zombie, or go wholly independent, or be like Brian and do both. (Read that post; he's paying closer attention to the publishing work than I am.)

There's more to the hustle than marketing yourself, and that's learning how to make what you write sell. Writing is a craft, and crafts are like any other technology: discoverable, repeatable, refinable, perfectable. For what Brian does, what I want to do, and many others in the genre fiction world we've had some proven techniques for generations now- now being rediscovered and relearned by folks who (a) want to get away from the Pink SF/F pozzed piss-poor pap and (b) want to actually pay fucking bills by writing like Robert E. Howard did nearly a century ago.

Living master John C. Wright did a post on Lester Dent's template for reliably-sale-able pulp adventure short stories, a formula that Michael Moorcock would go on to expand and refine for his novel-length works. Brian would add that Hollywood most definitely uses its own formula, and then there's Campbell's Hero's Journey which George Lucas made famous (because he used them for Star Wars).

And yes, for whatever you want to write you can count on there being a proven and reliable formula for that if you want to actually sell what you write. For self-help stuff, you can see it in how Mike Cernovich and Ivan Throne wrote their books. Comics have their conventions, varying by genre. Romance is so formulaic that there are Mad Lib generators, and some folks use them for something other than a joke. Learn what your niche's formula is and master it before fucking with it. Yeah, it's part of the hustle, and there's no getting around it.

The days of an author being solely a reclusive, introverted individual leaving the tasks of promotion, publication, and revenue oversight to others is done- a temporary state, now disappearing as the mean reasserts itself. Once more, your success is entirely on you to achieve, so get up and lead your way to it- and get used to this being your life.

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