(Delain - The Mechanist)
I’ve made a reference a couple of times in the (almost a year of) running this blog to “this business” meaning writing. It’s what I do, so, it’s kinda my business, and that is the context I write in. However, I also see a lot of people coming out with “the business of writing” and going on long blog posts about how to quantify this or monetize that and how to get this particular sale better and…
Y’know, mad props if you’re the kind of writer that does that. I don’t have the mental RAM to do that on top of my writing. The funny thing is, I do love excel/google spreadsheets. Quantifying everything and seeing the little graphs is kind of neat. I used to do that for work and I currently have a running spreadsheet for my fantasy football league. It’s there for bragging rights more than anything, but it’s still pretty fun to input my data and watch the sorcerous formula do its thing.
However, when it comes to writing, I just really can’t do that. I wrote about the arbitrary nature of word counts and my own dislike for them last week. This is more of the same.
And again, this is not a dig at you indie authors that make this look easy. It’s just my Process TEE EM.
I’m going to let the whole nature of “sales” be determined by my publisher and my agent. They can tell me, hey DosAguilas, you’ve now sold 100,000 copies of your book. Cool. I can dig that.
But it’s part of the business to do this, and this part of the business is why I’d be a terrible indie author if I had to shove my self-marketing down people's throats. I'm not good at that.. Several months back I was talking to April Bradley, friend and colleague at Bartleby Snopes and very talented writer and yes I’m name-dropping because she’s awesome and she was giving me grief about not letting her know that I had been published in X magazine and I shot back with, well, you didn’t tell me you had this other thing published! I’m a terrible self-promoter. So is she.
What I do try to do, though, is to make people remember me for me and not for an arbitrary number of books sold or novels written. I am a person. I am not my sales. I am not the stories I’ve written. I am not the times I’ve been published. If you ask me off the top of my head how many stories I’ve gotten out in lit mags, I wouldn’t be able to tell you without pulling out my phone to double-check on this site.
I am me.
And when I meet strangers, I try to offer a handshake and get their names as soon as I can. I picked this up from my buddy Chris. Now, I may have mentioned him before, Chris, for my first two years in Houston, was a guardian angel/guardian devil of sorts (think a redneck version of the titular creature in Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro) and he helped me see the value in networking and toeing the line of recklessness when it came to approaching strangers.
My distinction between networking in this and networking for, say, sales, is that there’s really no stories coming out of a sales networking kind of meeting between strangers. And I’m a writer. I live for stories. Chris had a way of getting [most] people to open up and then it wasn’t long before there was this hurricane of words around. I’ve since adapted that method into my own approach, which is admittedly a bit more conservative than Chris’ approach (think a Cat 2 vs a Cat 5 hurricane) but the approach brings out the conversation in people.
That’s how I get my story ideas, after all.
And at the end of it, I’m not a businessman. I’m a writer and to me, this business isn’t so much a business as it is an art form. It’s craft. It’s a superpower.
I don’t want to bog it down with charts and spreadsheets and graphs. I do enough of that. I just want to write for writing’s sake and yeah, I'm not going to say no to tools that can quantify my earnings and all that, but I am going to draw the line at taking the art away from something and making it all stuffy.
Hell, I look good in a suit but it doesn't mean I want to wear one at all times. ;)