Friday, June 5, 2015

MOKF: Day 5

It's FRIDAY!  Tomorrow I don't have to... oh, wait.

Things are going smooth today.  Well, maybe a pothole or two.  I may have bricked my network router.   Not sure.

But anywho, back on topic...
As far as writing goes, I did get a lot more research done on the marketing plan front.  And the big news is I think I've pieced together the problem with the publishing industry (and also filmmaking, music, and the other creative industries).

Want to hear it?

(Since this blogging is not live-interacting I'm assuming that you'll say "yes", and marching ahead with my rant anyway.)

The problem is that we keyboard jockeys mistakenly think that success has something to do with writing.  It doesn't.  The name of the game is marketing.


Take, for example, if you sell 200 volumes per year (the national average for most books, self-published, or publisher-published).  Using numbers from a popular publishing-on-demand service, my spreadsheet says somewhere around $1,791.82 annually.  Nice!

Don't quit my day job?
Too late. :/

The obvious problem here is the 200.  Pretty pathetic when you think only 16 people a month buy anything.  It's a customer shortage.  It's a marketing failure.

So how can some dumb thing like Chicken Soup for People With Handlebar Mustaches sell a million copies?  Easy.  They've just got 999,799 more customers than you.

It explains a lot of things, really.  I offer three:

What about those professionally published books that still only sell 200 copies?  What's the difference between that and the bestseller by the same company?  From the crushed and dejected authors' blogs I've read, I gather that it's all about who won the coin toss in the marketing department.  Once the marketing machine is turned on high, you can do no wrong.  When the marketing machine is off, nobody cares what you do either way.

Secondly, this theory also explains the prevailing, "Don't call us, we'll call you.  (Only not really on that second part.)", refrain common to the creative media outlets.  They're not just being jerks.  If they're going to risk half a mil or more on advertising, they want to be especially sure that they're not going to regret it.

As a Christian filmmaker and I were discussing the other day, Hollywood would rather do a throw-away remake of something that already has a following than take a chance on anything original.  The artist may gag on his own vomit over this, but belive-you-me the accountants couldn't be happier.

But finally, to add insult to injury, there's the opposite case, which is the most telling of them all.  Though the lady down the street burns the midnight oil to crank out a classic of legendary proportions, she'll invariably be told "don't call us, we'll call you".  Meanwhile some celebrity politician, actor, or sports star that can barely sign their own name, gets a cushy book deal complete with a team of ghost writers to make it for him.

Freeze frame.  Consider that that a moment.  What is it saying?  It isn't about the writing at all, is it?  It's about the name, the face, the franchise.

This marketing thing; this thing I loathe; this thing is vastly more important in the scheme of things than 400 pages of pure awesome.  (And that makes me hate it all the more!)

And, yet I remind myself that the bigger and viler the dragon, the more important that the hero slay it.



Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

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