So, one of the great conundrums in the world of promoting art is how you seek out your audience.
There are places, both real and virtual, where fans of particular kinds of art congregate. For the sake of this blog, I’m going to focus on the fans of my kind of art. Science fiction and fantasy books.
The problem is that the places, both real and virtual, which have the largest gatherings of potential readers are well aware of their potential value. Places like comic book conventions, and io9, where my possible readers come together regularly and in droves, know that have created the perfect place for writers and the like to peddle their wares, so they charge for the privilege. I don’t begrudge them that, after all they put a lot of time and energy into what they do. It makes sense that people looking to take advantage of it should have to pay for it.
The problem is that for writers who don’t have an established fan base and can’t count on a certain number of sales, or cannot easily come up with the money required to rent a table, each purchase is a calculated risk.
So instead, when you don’t have the cash flow to buy a spot at one of the big places, you have to look for the little places. Like blogs. A few days back I found a list of blogs where people reviewed urban fantasy stories. I went through them, checked each one out, and whenever I found an active site that looked like they were interested in my kind of story, I sent them an e-mail asking if they’d like to review my book.
The thing that interested me was just how many of the sites were defunct. You had to keep your eyes open, check out how long ago the last post had been put up. There were places that looked perfect for my kind of book, it just happened that the last time they’d done anything on their site was 2011. Funny. And kind of sad. A bunch more just weren’t taking reviews at the moment, so, all told, of the hundred and fifty blog sites that I looked into, I think I sent off just a little under twenty five requests.
But man, there were a lot of dead sites. In a way, looking at all of the review sites reminded me a lot of writers. There are a lot of writers and would-be writers out in the world, trying to make a go of it, desperate to be seen, desperate to be heard. We tell ourselves that this is our calling, that this is what we want to do with our life. But somehow, the longer you go, the more ‘bodies’ you start seeing on the side of the proverbial road. Eventually most people quit. And I can’t fault them for it. Pursuing your dreams is a rough road to travel. You take a look around you and you see the people who’ve made it, you see the io9s and the comicons, and you know where you want to end up, what you want to be. But at a certain point you just sort of realize that you’re not going to end up there. You can do well for yourself, potentially you can become a great niche artist, but your name will never reach the acclaim of, say Stephen King or Jim Butcher. It’s a bit troubling, when you have to readjust your aim, shoot a little lower.