Andrew and I have a problem. It’s the same problem a million other people have, with its roots in the most fundamental problem of human nature. Our problem: we want our stories to be heard. Why? That is the question (sorry, Hamlet).
I stumbled across this TED talk today. If you’ve got 18 minutes or so to spare, I recommend checking it out, he’s got some excellent points.
But something niggled at me while watching this. It’s the same thing that has been bugging me since I launched the first episode of Gone To Wonder, and even before that. Marketing.
I’ve decided marketing is the devil. Spend a bit of time on Twitter and watch the endless trains of the faithless writers trying to hock their books. Visit the cities filled with the foolish that I call Facebook (actually, I wouldn’t really know about that, since I refuse to give Facebook the time of day). In these magical places, you’ll see a whole lot of elevator pitches that amount to what Sinek points out is the “What” part of communicating. Is anyone sold on a 140 character blurb? A quote from the book? A bullet-point premise? I haven’t once bought a book from that kind of pitch, so I don’t know if it works or not. I have bought from people I thought were funny or interesting. Am I alone here?
And I’ve decided I can’t do it. It feels somehow false to me. On one hand, it’s like begging for attention. Andrew had a post not too look ago called Screaming Into the Void, which was a great way to put it (he also talks about a strategy for communicating in it that I liked but, again, requires people to listen, participate, and care, which is the whole game, I guess).
If and when the endeavor fails, what are you left with? Do you feel resentment for not piercing the barriers of human cultural consciousness, like it’s everyone’s fault? Do you feel small, an insignificant cog in a huge machine? Do you cling to the few fleeting connections you have made? Do you question the merits of continuing?
Admission time: I have felt all of those before, and will feel them again.
Nobody owes anyone else their attention, especially in the matter of a fictional book. You’ve got to earn it. Would that maybe be what the point of marketing is? To earn a few minutes of attention, and maybe a sale? Or, to be more cynical, to trick people into paying attention?
Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The What in my case is Gone To Wonder. But Why do I write stories, and why do I ask you to read them? Because stories are the most important thing to me. It touches on the core theme of my story itself—we have the power to shape our narratives in whatever fantastic ways we want.
If you’re going to buy my stories, I don’t want you to do it because it’s in a genre category you sometimes read, or you like the cover, or you saw that other people read it and rated it. I want you to read it because you feel the same way I do about stories. I want you to care about it, and by extension me and my “brand”, because my stories and the articles we write for the Bard matter to you.
All the best intentions in the world won’t get you anywhere, though. My book is available on Kindle for $2.99, but to prove this isn’t yet another wailing cry of desperation, I’m going to give it to you for free. No, not everyone. Not that guy over there, forget him. Just you. And I don’t care if you copy it and give it away to others, or if you read it but don’t say a word to a soul, or if you shit all over it on every social media platform known to man. I don’t care, because if you got this far and take the effort to contact me, I’m going to assume you care about the same thing I do, and that is story.
To get the book, just shoot me an email at beardedbards(at)gmail(dot)com, I’ll zip you a pdf copy, and it’s yours forever. Also, Andrew is making the same offer for Tim and the Break-up of Impending Doom.
We continue to define the ‘why’ of the Bearded Bards, with our upcoming shift in posting style, but let there be no doubt in, the ‘why’ of me:
My whole life, I’ve been obsessed with fantastic stories, and imagined what it would be like to be a part of them. I write about the day that we can all shape our worlds into fantastical realms and our lives into the stories we always dreamed about. If you’ve ever pictured yourself as the hero of a story, then you too have gone to wonder.
Thanks for stopping by, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about marketing, stories, and I’d love to hear your ‘why’s, too.