A Hit with the Aliens!

I think my writing is having a mid-life crisis.

WHY couldn't I have the usual kind?

WHY couldn’t I have the usual kind?

The dam first broke four summers ago- truly chronicling the Lands of Hope- and my productivity was very high I can tell you. Sure, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin do better. But not by much. And they make MONEY.

I'm telling you, I have to tweet about this!

I’m telling you, I have to tweet about this!

Plus I had other ideas, about how to support the work. Compendium material (right here on this blog), maps, a chronology– checklist items I ticked off to build the ever-desired platform. Starting with roughly the same knowledge of e-publication and social networks as the average survivor of the Black Plague, I’ve come to a point where I know some stuff. More important, I know some folks. Time is limited, I don’t need to tell you that, but I make a few rounds, read great entries, drop comments. I curate the odd bit of trivia to FB or G+, I review fellow authors with pleasure. And about once a month I come here and put in what I honestly think is some of my best material, alongside the splendid writers of the Independent Bookworm.

My writing has slowed recently, for reasons I’m well aware of (basically, the Lavender Lady intimidates me no end). I’ll start to roll the rock again soon. But meantime, I’ve dallied. And I’ve lost energy. I look around at the aggressive marketing and candid self-promotion others do. My honest reaction? Hey, I already have one rat race, why write just to pick up another?

My enthusiasm for marketing myself has fallen through the floor. My inner sap is whining- ‘Why aren’t I already famous?’

I can see the Lands of Hope in here!

I can see the Lands of Hope in here!

So I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. But I haven’t accomplished even more. The posts, the time-line, the tales themselves- there they are, but what does it add up to? It’s not just how many have paid to read my stories- I get it, I’m a drop in the ocean- but sometimes I feel like nothing I’ve written, even the free stuff, makes any noise at all. It’s falling over alone in a forest somewhere . We’re all busy: and  I don’t write SHORT things. Strike three and I’m still on deck.

Then it hit me. I need the aliens.

Must--read--Eath--books...

Must–read–Earth–books…

Remember that assignment in seventh grade, where the teacher said “think of ONE thing you can put in a room that will survive the nuclear war- aliens will find it and you want to put something in there that will tell them all about the human race”. I loved that assignment. Extra points if you can guess what I suggested- this was the 70s, so nothing that starts with a small “i”. Electricity yes, but not portable. Guess.

So just now, I had my own assignment moment- wouldn’t the aliens love me? No, stick with this- it’s a gasser.

Suppose some kind of bizarre magnetic pulse hits the earth, blankets the planet with radiation that kills all the people and affects part of that beloved Internet which is our modern record. All the content, things that anyone has ever WRITTEN, that stuff stays- web pages, the composition, art, video clips, etc. But

But- I was in 5,000 Circles on Google!

But- I was in 5,000 Circles!

EVERYTHING THAT MEASURES IT is gone- the page hits, the Likes, the buzz, bestseller lists and on and on- that’s poof. Google’s entire search engine with ranked findings is

ground zero- boom, atomized, no trace.

The internet is now level. Everything that’s written is there together. That’s what the aliens find.

So there’s Stephen King’s book, and GRRM’s, and mine, on Amazon- but no sales records. And their blogs, their pages, and mine, side by side in a cybernetic sense. Aliens would be just as likely to find me as either of them. Once they figure out our alphabet, I come first! And they’d like my stuff- there’s adventure in there, cool things that happen to great characters in amazing situations. And they’d be completely ignorant that I was ever just one of the faceless mass of indies who struggled to gain the slightest traction.

To the aliens, I’d be a bestseller.

As big as… as big as Robert Galbraith.

This is the kind of pathetic, cold comfort my imagination flees to when my spirits about writing are low. I’m blogging about it for two reasons. First and foremost I’m still scared of my MC, and can’t use my time the way every writer would want, not yet. But I also think this, the depths that an unknown author can feel, are worth recording for posterity. We keep doing this, despite feeling so empty, long months and years of shoveling sand on a beach and getting bupkis back.

Five Signs You’re Not a Success As an Independent Author

1) You set your preferences on Smashwords to notify you every time one of your books sells. You haven’t needed to turn it off yet.

2) You spend time thinking about how you can pump your Klout score higher than your age. Because of course that will make it better.

Feels like work sometimes

Feels like work sometimes

3) You wait as long as you can- maybe six weeks- before checking Amazon sales. You know there’s nothing. You’re still crushed. You check again every day for a week, to make sure there was no mistake.

4) The day after you leave two business cards at the local library you see an extra page-view on one of your books and you think “aha, it’s working”.

5) The “Reach” factor on your Facebook page slips into negative territory.

Let the pity-fest begin! Add to the list, append your personal gripes, share the misery (we all know it wants company). Or if you’re minded to spoil the paalienreadrty, a few tips on what gets you cranked up again, the encouragement you find even in the darkest hour. I might listen to that too.

But hurry- Optimist that I am, I think the aliens really are coming. So I will have to delete this page soon, else they start to suspect…

P.S.: Answer to the homework assignment-

pinball

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About Will

I'm the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales, available at all the major online retailers.

Posted on August 4, 2013, in about writing, Age - Adult, Authors - Will Hahn, misc, or browse all books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Your post had me thinking, and believe it or not, survived the storm that rages in my Inbox every day because I really wanted to chime in on this!
    Your concerns are part of the reason I’ve delayed deciding whether I want to pursue publication … do I want to concern myself with self-promotion, when I could be writing something new? If my words and stories are nothing more than grains of sand in desert, why bother trying to get noticed at all?
    That said, I’m beginning to find a way that I might fit into this new publishing paradigm. It’s actually a pretty exciting time to be a writer.
    However, for me I think the greatest pleasure of writing stories will always lie in asking the questions. Whether someone answers isn’t as important to me as having asked them. 🙂

    Perhaps that’s why your alien scenario fascinates me so much! Writing for an imaginary crowd isn’t nearly as lonely as knowing no one’s listening.
    Have faith, Will, and keep writing. If you build it, they will come. 🙂

  2. Thanks Karin, that means a lot! I agree with you about the pure joy of writing. I do have to admit, though- giving myself deadlines and pursuing a market has not only taught me a lot, it helped my writing improve to know I wasn’t just “doodling” any more. We all seek that perfect balance, and it probably isn’t there. But if I can still laugh, that’s the main thing. And I do believe the advice I’ve heard, that your platform and your writing are permanent- they don’t have a shelf-life so whenever it starts to come around they’ll still be there for you.
    Come on out whenever you’re ready!

  3. I follow Dean Wesley Smith’s advice on marketing (or at least, my understanding of his advice *lol*). “Write more!” In other words, let your published work do the marketing for you. Having put your best, most professional, cover on it and samples of other work at the end, leave it alone and write something else.

    Life is too short and I have too many stories to tell to spend my time marketing when I could be writing 😀

    • Debbie, I think I’m slewing around to that PoV nowadays. I mean, it wouldn’t help me write at the moment- stuck is stuck- but I’m throttling down to the social media activities I really like, and ditching the others. Google plus is hanging by a thread I can tell you…

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