Wednesday, October 09, 2019
I have to respond to criticism that I don't "sell" things
One aspect of all of my blogs (there are 20 of them) is that some of my own activity uncovers problems, especially in the free speech and “personal autonomy” areas that amount to news that often gets overlooked, even by other independent video channels and blogs that I follow as well as mainstream. Some of these issues have the somewhat unpredictable risk of blowing up and becoming important for a lot of speakers.
Recently, I’ve gotten some marketing calls from my POD publisher for my books. I’ve gone into more detail in a Wordpress post last Saturday, which leads to another legacy post of mine on the Trademark blog here (on Blogger).
I’ve gotten some calls, ever since 2012, asking me why the older books are not selling. A couple of them have sounded a little threatening, as if I were doing something wrong by migrating to my own format of online blogging and not being totally 100% dedicated to wholesaling and retailing hardcopy books as a consumer-oriented business laced with offers and volume-oriented deals. OK, there would be benefits, like literacy programs. Community engagement through local bookstores, and the like. I’ve talked about some of those on the Book Reviews blog here.
I had a long conversation Monday evening, and I won’t go into sensitive details, but I did manage to convince the caller that “cookie cutter” marketing assistance packages from publicity films don’t work equally for all kinds of books (here's a perspective). It is normally a lot easier to sell a children’s book or a recipe cookbook (as a consumer “commodity” in volumes of “instances”) or perhaps any “how to” book (like in tech) than political non-fiction laced with personal accounts.
Fiction is a little different: if an author has become known, he/she can make the consumer angle work.
When I first published my DADT-1 book as a print-run in 1997, the novelty of my individualistic arguments regarding gays in the military (I talked a lot about my own experience with conscription, especially) did catch on by word-of-mouth and for eighteen months or so (my having moved to Minneapolis to do a corporate transfer to avoid a conflict of interest), and my first printing of a few hundred did sell out, more or less before 9/11.
Since then, as I’ve often explained, I’ve depended on search engines to remain known. That has worked relatively well in terms of influencing policy (yup, some politicians, judges, and various media figures do know me) but in a way that is probably not very transparent to the public. And I agree that my Internet presence, which added components as technology changed, is not very transparent to the “average consumer”, the way many book marketing sites are supposed to be. And I have indeed promised to simplify all of this by the end of 2021 (after the next election).
I do get the idea that many people see a problem with an operation that offers most stuff “free” without asking for anything. This is different from the algorithm-clickbait problem which, we have seen in the past two years, seems to contribute, however unintentionally, a lot to radicalization (especially on the “alt-right”). Free content (even if not radical by itself) from someone who doesn’t seem to have other people to be responsible for (“skin in the game” -- and the "upward affiliation problem") could also be seen as a radicalization ploy or an unpredictable security risk for others. A bigger practical concern is that my style of self-publication dilutes conventional group or "identity centered" activism with "solidarity". I could arguably be "doing something else" that helps "my own oppressed peoples" more than I do now.
Soon, I’ll give more specifics on just how these blogs do benefit users. I owe it.