Monday, July 20, 2015
"Getting published" in a world without monetization
One of the driving points about my own circumstances is that I leveraged the Web as a way to “get published”, not just to build volumes of social contacts as is common today with social media. That means, publishing (for all to find) one's own narrative, with all its implications, without the supervision of a gatekeeper or beancounter.
I’m writing this post in anticipation of all the unsolicited contacts I get about selling more physical copes of my books, and about aggressively monetizing my websites with SEO and all the “Blog Tyrant” type advice.
My first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book in 1997 was in fact my own print run, but I was able to do it for very low cost, during a time when the stock market and economy (with Clinton – a fiscally responsible Democrat – as president and a GOP Congress) worked well for my assets. I had income from a job, although I had to manage the “conflict of interest” issue carefully. In the late 1990s (especially after the move to Minneapolis in September 1997 which would run through 2003), I was able to sell copies through informal networking – through LGBT contacts, the Libertarian Party, and even the workplace, and to some extent other authors and bookstores (like reading clubs). In time, being found on the Web, with copies of the book uploaded, by search engines (I placed high without trying to, just because my files were simple HTML) I became somewhat known. And, yes, friends arranged speaking arrangements at Hamline University, the University of Minnesota, Morehead State, and a Unitarian group.
It’s a very different world today, with modern social media, POD, and the heavy pressure many companies feel to make profits any way possible (well, really, that last point isn’t so new). Really, employees of these companies, often with families to support and depending on commissions, need their customers to be “hungry” for income, and not just out there to be “known” and “respected” or “influential”.
But essentially that’s what I did. My material stayed up, and “politicians” knew about it. It would be forever harder for one-sided interests to remain effective if “people like me” kept our material up to be found.
It's important to note that books published by trade publishers disappear after they stop selling (although old copies stay with resellers on Amazon). They they get forgotten.
At this point, let me add that I see I explored a lot of the ramifications of the “it’s free” problem (or the idea that content should pay its own way) here on May 25, 2015.
I don’t have any content that is obviously easy to make “popular”. Maybe the career of J.K. Rowling is a great lesson – you need a dose of real life and real mistakes, and hitting bottom, and real responsibilities, including having and raising children under far less than perfect circumstances. I can stitch together rationalizations for my own aloofness – stemming from lack of physical competitiveness (and what would happen in Army Basic in 1968 become relevant), connected to a lack of drive for conventional sexual intercourse, and a lack of own children, and then the benefits of “upward affiliation”. (My own example, while logical to me, doesn’t seem to be replicated in the lives of a lot of other people, and that’s a whole separate discussion.) The end result is, I don’t get a lot out of social and intimate activities that most others desire (call that schizoid if you like, or complain that I don’t “like people” enough). So it’s unlikely I would want to create content for someone else just because it would be “popular”.
As in a line from “The King and I”, “It’s a puzzlement”.