As an author with a new book on the market, I find myself getting quite caught up in the whole “numbers” game. How many copies have I sold? What is my place on Amazon? How many good reviews do I have?
I’m guessing it’s a quite normal response, but the entire process is proving to be quite counterproductive to what I enjoy doing, which is writing. By nature, authors are writers, not marketing gurus. But with some 4,000,000 other books being published in any given year, we are forced to shout, push and grapple for space on a reader’s list. These days, unless one is a ‘Grisham’ or a ‘Steel’, book sales often come (in the most simplistic of terms) as a result of how often and how loudly we “Tweet”. Eventually (and hopefully), word-of-mouth works its magic, but usually not until an author has exhausted themselves trying to parlay this form of marketing madness into tangible sales.
It’s an awkward role for any new author to grasp, let alone master, and at times, one can’t help but feel as if they’ve become one big fat infomercial in the process. The quality of one’s work (not to mention all that has been accomplished) seems to matter not in the scheme of things. An artist must dig deep to find harmony.
While in search of inspiration to address this dilemma, I happened upon the following quote. I’d like to share it with fellow artists who, at times, may also find their ‘harmony’ is a little off.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
As artists, we have a talent to share and, for us, it becomes our calling to bring this talent to life. Where our art winds up or who it eventually entertains is something over which we have no control. Our job is simply to let our creations go, to let them flourish and live the lives they were meant to live. We must have faith that those who need to meet them will do so and those who are meant to love them will one day, surely, fall head-over-heels.
One’s ‘numbers’ – these objective, and often disobedient, measurements which all artists allow themselves to get wrapped up in – should NOT be viewed as a reflection of self, but rather a reflection of a market’s willingness to listen.
Our focus as writers is to entertain and enlighten, amuse and engross. How each of us gets to this place – or where we journey from this place – are tiny matters. To attain happiness and achieve the elusive balance, we must focus only that which lies within us. Our talents, our passions, our stories – these are the only things that truly matter.
Artists: What is YOUR greatest challenge with respect to finding and maintaining this ‘harmony’?
Blog Readers: What do you feel is the most effective way authors/artists can entice you to take a look at their work?
If you’d like to be included in the drawing to win a free copy of my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED, please leave your thoughts and include your email info. A three-chapter excerpt from the book can be found on my website http://www.robincain.com