Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Daydreaming is a Contact Sport

Lately I’ve been longing for the good old days. When a girl only needed her pen, journal, and a daydream to write a story. During those days she could sit and write for hours. A time before she put a whole bunch of pressure on herself to try to make a living from her book sales.

Back in the days when authors at traditional publishing houses got an editor, book tour, paychecks. Because, back then, published Authors – the writers who were really, really, good at crafting a story - also ended up making a living.

It was hard to break in back then, but getting paid to be an author was a viable dream. Especially if you had talent.

That dream was mine.

I honed my skills. Worked on the art and technical aspects of writing, being a writer. Learned to spell. Typed while looking down at the keyboard because I never learned how to do it while looking up. Learned to craft a lead-in for a fiction story from every conversation I ever had. Used those lead-in writing prompts to spin out some short or long tale that I worked to edit numerous times before I ever considered putting it out into the world. Read books for inspiration and used my imagination to craft something that people wanted to read.

Then there was someone else’s dream – the internet.

Digital content.

Talent had to shift. It wasn’t about the story anymore. Writing a book took on a new meaning. It wasn’t about entertainment. If you released a book it became a companion piece for the other thing you wanted to sell.

Books suddenly became just another form of marketing.

Stories faded away. Fiction became passé.

If you weren’t giving away free books you could never grow your email list. And without your precious email list, nobody would ever know when you released another book.

The book you’d use to sell other things. The book itself was irrelevant, see.

The big circle of marketing. There are no corners.

And I don’t care if you have 10 Doctorates in marketing, nobody knows how it all really works. Because as soon as you pick a platform or a brand type or anything else that “helps sell your work”, you find out you did it wrong. You should have done this or that instead.

Everything current is already yesterday’s news. That article written yesterday is an old strategy. Time to learn something new, written by all the people who sold you books to learn about how they wrote books and sold them yesterday.

More circles.

Authors like me, who originated back in the days when you could identify a writer by the blob of ink on the first knuckle of their middle finger, are in competition with a whole bunch of people who have been working at this writing thing since all the way back in 2008.

Those people who sat around and said “I’ll get rich by writing books!”

And then they did.

Because those people apparently had their PhD in how to work a system they don’t even know. Or had tons of money to invest into their advertising efforts.

Or were just really, really lucky.

Get-rich-quick digital writers figured out how to make the internet and all the people who go along with it, to do their work for them and sell their books.

But not the books that were all the rage when I was just starting to form my daydream team. Not those well-crafted fiction stories of yore.

Because imagination is apparently dead. And if not dead, at least punched in the face to the point of bloody unconsciousness.

Someone took her out back and completely jacked her up with a syringe full of words like content, affiliate, click-through, backlink, SEO, page rank, impressions, keywords…

How many authors write without all of that spinning around their head anymore? Seriously. I need to understand how many writers are simply writing, sharing the imaginative worlds they craft despite everything already being done?

How many authors get to tell stories anymore and, if they do, can they possibly live on income from those stories?

Or, better yet, does anyone care about those stories enough to want to read them anymore or is it all just 800 word articles about what color your aura would be underwater?

Approximately 105,120 books are published on Amazon every single year so I suppose there has to be something to the whole book writing craze.

I just wish all those writers who used to say “everyone has at least one book inside them” would have shut their damn mouths. Because doing this job is about more than having an idea for a book. Being an author is about more than having that MA in marketing.

An author in this age of literature also has to know all of the following:

  • School is irrelevant, spelling isn’t really a thing anymore. (Don’t believe me? This being defined in the Oxford dictionary might change your mind.)
  • Plot is thin and wearing away because nobody cares.
  • Most characters have the exact same voice, inflections, dialect.
  • Books with a lack of shock and awe won’t sell.
  • If you want to sell fiction it better have some graphic sex, violence, or both by page 5 or don’t bother writing it.
  • Graphic sex scenes are written so often and in so many genres now the word “smut” should be revised in the dictionary.

But probably the most important point to remember is that everything I just said is wrong. There’s already a new strategy where some author in some desolate corner of the internet just made a six-figure income.

You can read all about it in the book they release next week telling you how you can do it too.

Look, I know I’m just whining here. And without the current way of things I couldn’t call myself a published author of fiction books. Ah, irony. Believe me, I don’t want to look the gift horse in the mouth.

However, while I don’t want you to think I’ve got this overly inflated ego, I know I have talent for fiction writing. For crafting a story based on characters. Plus, I know I have the dedication to keep doing this because I’ve been writing for almost three decades and don’t plan to stop.

So, I also know that if the internet never became a thing where I could share my work, I would have eventually persevered into published regardless.

It just sucks that what they tell you is to write more titles, release more books so your name can be seen from space. Better known as page 1 on amazon. Write more books simply so people find your titles, not because you want to tell a story.

And the merry-go-round marketing circle continues.

But I’m jumping off. I’m writing and releasing fiction no matter what the experts try to tell me is in or out. I never really cared about all of that popularity shit to begin with. And I can’t be the only one who thinks this way.

There must be some kind of audience out there for the work I do. People who are still interested in characters. In imagination.

I’m leaving the circle behind and getting my shit together in a straight line. Putting all that daydreaming to good use.


• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.


Launna said...

Jenn, I love books like yours that come from a great imagination... I want real characters I care about and plots I can get on board with. I don't like hastily written books just to get a book out. I definitely agree you have a talent for writing, I'm glad you're staying with it ♡♡♡

River said...

Yes, please keep writing real books. I'm a reader and appreciate a good plot that flows along. I love books that drag me into the story so much that when the final page is read, I surface as if I've been in a trance for 400 pages. With some books, I'm disappointed to find I'm on the final page. I want more. More. MORE. Then I find there's a sequel and I'm happy again.
anything that is nothing more than sex, sex and more sex with characters swapping beds and partners repeatedly goes right back to the library, with that particular author never getting back into my house no matter how good his/her other books might be.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

That's so good to hear Launna, I knew there must be people out there looking for fiction still! Thanks for the compliment my friend, I don't plan to stop! :-)

River I agree on the overly sexual charged books. It can be fun to read a passage or two here or there if plausible to the plot but an entire book of that? Snooze. Or laugh depending on how many "clever" adjectives the author tries to use when describing the scene. Probably not the reaction they wanted.