Nightmares & Egos
This coming Monday (The 12th September if you're reading this in the future) I will have been writing and sharing Echo Valley with you guys for a month.
For those of you who don't know, Echo Valley is a cathartic project in the form of a short horror novel that I started as a way of capturing my nightmares onto paper. At the time, I had also been working on another novel but more on the sci-fi epic scale for the past two years. So I took a break from that and eventually, I convinced myself to share the first chapter of Echo Valley for fun and then return to the much longer novel I had been working on.
But since then, I've received really positive feedback from people. I'm not exactly drowning in fan mail, but there's enough nice words to put a smile on my face. Words from people I didn't even realise were reading it; a colleague at my work, friends I haven't seen in years have all taken time to contact me with the smallest of things like "Just wanted to say good work on Echo Valley, really enjoyed it!" and my personal favourite "I even spilt pasta on my shirt". It's been awesome, right down to the notification of my first ever blog subscriber. (i'm looking at you, Pixie. Muchos Gracias <3 ) All of this, has spurred me on to write and build more on the world of Echo Valley and make an effort to share it beyond just my friends and family.
But for unpublished, unheard of writers of the web, there's a darker side to getting people to read your book...
The Soulless side of Social
The downside to authors who's work is not traditionally (or in this case) nor self-published is that in order to get their stories read online, you have to be quite "salesy", whether you're aiming to make money or not. In internet terms, #hashtagging. I know it has to be done in order to get found initially, but Odin's beard, do I hate it.
I'm not a salesman, not by any means. I don't think many creative people are. When I get to the publishing stage of Echo Valley and if I decide to go with self-publishing, I will look forward to setting up stalls at cons, soaking up the atmosphere, meeting new people and having fun providing my book to people like me who go "That sounds weird. I wanna read it."
But there are things I'm not looking forward to and am not enjoying. You probably notice on particular Instagram and Twitter accounts, the phrasing on posts doesn't sound genuine, Especially with #hashtags #throughout #almost the #entire #sentence.
I try my best to sound as authentic to myself as possible, even though I do cram in all those Hashtags at the end. It's just unavoidable for someone trying to get something noticed online.
On the bright side of self-publishing, you do get to keep and be in control of most things, including your earnings, which tends to work out as more money in comparison. Which is or should be a bonus for writers, not the main motivation.
On the other hand, traditional publishing do all that work for you. They do the selling whilst you get to keep most of your soul as a creative. But from what I've discovered recently, means that even award winning authors, get paid what sounds like essentially pennies.
I'm not judging either of the publishing options, don't get me wrong. I'm just weighing up the facts. Currently, self-publishing it's what i'm leaning more towards, solely because I think it sounds more fun and involving. It's just the initial selling yourself bit I cringe at as I type out those hashtags.
It's a double edged sword: More hashtags means more views and likes, but it can also mean that you're only going to get likes from accounts like xXG3tFolLow3rZN0WXx and monetize.your.blogg , which lets face it, haven't actually read a single word from your novel. They just want you to go to their account and follow, like or pay them for god knows what. Sometimes it feels like a look-at-me warzone out there and you're no better.
But what's important is to remember the reason most of started out writing this novel or any art form be it music, drawing, acting, whatever- for ourselves. I want to make Echo Valley discoverable to people, but I don't want to force it down peoples throats. But I also need the time to be able to do it well as well as working a full time job and being a good Dad.
Eh, we'll probably be fine. But if you want to help, we can buy each other coffee?
(Pssst! If you're a creative not making money and not on Patreon, what the hell are you doing?!)