During times of uncertainty the natural tendency is to play it conservative, to cut back. Businesses begin to let employees go and search out ways to trim the vestigial tail (or fat if you want to stick to convention). Some believe this to be the exact wrong response.
These contrarians say the best course of action is to invest more. Instead of cutting personnel, hire additional employees in order to best the competition with top notch customer service and/or new innovative ideas. Seek out soft spots in the market to expand into, etc.
When it comes to self-publishing and indie artistry I’ve been pondering how to apply the same concept. Publishing is in the midst of a 100 year shake-up, and the future is uncertain to say the least. Along the lines of advice I’ve heard everything from “wait to see what happens” to “seize the day.”
I pretty much suck at waiting around, so the basic decision has been easy. I’m going to go for it, Pat. But what exactly does that look like?
In the business realm “going for broke” seems to be all about providing the customer the best possible experience (experience = product + process). Okay. As an indie author I’ll run through the list of basics I’m pretty sure I’ve got under control:
- quality story/novel
- Business plan/marketing strategy
- quality cover
- quality website/e-mail list
- meaningful social media platform
But these are just the basics. How does one push the envelope in order to provide the best possible reader experience in a market full of timidity and instability? How can I take advantage of the faltering publishing houses? How can I set myself apart from the mobs of upstarts like me?
I think the answer lies within why we enjoy stories in the first place whether they be novels, films or some other media.
- The first level of enjoyment comes through our personal encounter with the story.
- The second level comes through sharing it with others whom we respect.
I would argue we encounter the power of story more deeply at the second level. Through discussion, quoting favorite lines and relieving the emotion of a story, we enter it newly. By bonding socially around a shared story we experience something we did not the first time around.
When it comes to achieving this second level of enjoyment, books are at a disadvantage to more visual media. Films can be viewed in groups. Books not so much. The book club has of course formed to help facilitate social bonding over the written word. But how many genre fiction book clubs are out there? Usually only a certain kind of highbrow fiction finds it’s way onto Oprah’s reading list.
So the question seems to be “How do self-pubbing authors and indie artists facilitate social bonding around their material?” How can we carry a reader from the land of “Hmmm. That was an enjoyable book” to “Damn, Gina. Have you read this book?” or even “what was up with that Buddhist monk with the toupee?” to which Gina responds, “Give it to me one more time. And this time put some stank on it!”
And now for your thoughts and ideas… I’ll be sharing more of mine in the days and weeks to come (stop rolling your eyes.)