In recent discussions on social media concerning my blog, and my writing in general, several people urged me to start throwing stuff up on my blog to sell (such as ebooks, little guides, and the like), and suggested that I get into affiliate sales, have Google Adsense place ads on my blog, and that I get as much stuff published online as I can and learn online marketing to drive traffic to my blog and my kindle books, in order to generate as much income as possible.
In fact, I even recently read a book entitled Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck-Requred Guide to Self-Publishing Success, by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright, which focuses on that exact issue: to write and publish as much stuff as you possibly can, in order to attract readers and make money. According to the synopsis:
“…Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt published 1.5 million words and made their full-time livings as indie authors. In Write. Publish. Repeat., they tell you how exactly how they did it: how they created over 15 independent franchises across 50+ published works, how they turned their art into a logical, sustainable business, and how any independent author can do the same to build a sustainable, profitable career with their writing.”
Now, I understand that today, everyone has a platform. Everyone can put their stuff out into the world, for all to see (and, we all hope, buy). So now there are 7 billion people out there jumping up and down, waving their arms, and screaming Look at me! Look at me! So if you want to get noticed in all that noise, you gotta do something to attract attention—and shoving mountains of stuff out there is one way of doing that. In a sea crammed full of boats, the big ocean liners are, obviously, gonna be the easiest to pick out from the rest.
I understand that.
But what about the beautiful, finely crafted sailboat? What about the boat with the totally unique design, that looks cooler than the others and maybe functions a little better too? With features the others didn’t even think of? Those are what I’d be looking for across the seascape. I could care less about the monstrous ships, or all the “me too” boats that look just like everyone else’s boat. I’ll be looking for the remarkable. The unique, the quality, the gem in the rough. The purple cow.
So I refuse to cave in to today’s conventional “wisdom” of push push push, publish publish publish, get mountains of stuff out there so you can get noticed. I mean sure, I could sit down and hammer out shitloads of low-grade stuff, push it out there, try to get people’s attention; when I’m on a roll, I can crank out 2,000 words or more in what many would consider to be an unbelievably short span of time. So yeah, I could take that approach, if I wanted to. But there are already enough Stephen Kings and Platt/Truant/Wright teams out there doing just that—and besides, for me, that’s not what it’s about.
And that’s a big reason I waited sixteen years—from the time I wrote my first short story in 2000, until June of 2016—to publish my first book, Rolling The Bones. Once I’d finished a few good stories, I came up with the idea of putting together a collection back in 2005; but it wasn’t until over ten years later that I felt my writing had improved enough, and I had enough truly quality stories, to publish the book—even though many of my friends kept encouraging me to hurry it up, just get it done, throw some stuff together, I suppose just to say I’d written a book, or to begin making some money selling it.
See, for me, it’s not just about selling my art. It’s not just about making as much money as possible. It’s about my art being an extension of myself. It’s about my art representing who I am, what I believe. And I believe in quality. In doing the best possible job I can do, every time. Being the best possible person I can be, always. And since I seek quality out there in the world, and the unique, the remarkable—it only makes sense that I would strive for those characteristics in my own work.
And that’s precisely why I don’t publish a bunch of meaningless tripe on my blog. I take my time, try to develop meaningful content, stuff that may potentially be helpful or encouraging to others, maybe make a difference out there in this crazy, upside-down world we all have to live in and deal with. My hope is that one day, someone will stumble onto my blog, take notice, and find it worth their time and effort to visit. After all, there must be others out in the world who care about quality, about real, about the unique and the remarkable, and are desperately seeking something out there that’s worthy of their time, worthy of their effort—and yes, perhaps even worth buying.
And it’s why I took my time—sixteen years, to be exact—in publishing my first book.
So I refuse to sell out and start publishing tons of easy, lightweight stuff, or low-quality stuff, or sensationalized stuff, or controversial stuff, just to sell books, or to drive traffic to my blog so I can sell advertising or cheap ebooks or trite little guides or whatever. For me, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about doing quality work, and it’s about helping others. It’s about putting something out into the world that’s worth reading. Something that makes a difference. Something that will be noticed for being different, for being quality work, for being unique and remarkable and worth the time and effort for people to stop and read it. Perhaps even bring a brief period of pleasure into their life.
It’s about my work representing who I am, what I’m all about.
For me, it’s about the why, not just the what.
In his wonderful book Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work (which I consider to be my bible when it comes to achieving, and adhering to, the proper mindset when approaching my art), author Steven Pressfield puts this notion thusly:
“When we do the work for itself alone, our pursuit of a career (or a living or fame or wealth or notoriety) turns into something else, something loftier and nobler, which we may never even have thought about or aspired to at the beginning.”
So I’m gonna ignore conventional “wisdom” (surprise surprise) and pursue quality in my work, rather than quantity—or, in the words of the genius Steve Martin: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
And then see what happens.
I’m willing to take my chances.