Earlier this evening I was taken to task by a reader for inadequately marketing my crowd sourcing proposal. It was explained that I have wrongly selected the reward levels for the materials I've created and that I should realize that "a campaign of this sort is a tool that provides value beyond simple fundraising." To this was added the point that I should not view this as "something that is entirely in the favor of one part or the other."
Finally, I was told that my work is salable - if, by some possibility, I could find a way to market it.
Such advice baffles me. I am selling my work. How to Run has been available for purchase for 19 months now and to date has earned me, through sales online, at expos and through box stores such as Chapters/Indigo in Calgary, $8000. In addition, I have published three other books in the recent 36 months and am working on the second draft of a 5th book right now. I have found a way to market these books: through Lulu, Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble; in both paperback and ebook form. In the last 28 days I have sold 17 books of various titles; this is better than a book every two days, despite the fact that the most recent book was published 11 months ago. Every book that I have on any of these websites has a rating of either 4 or 5 stars.
Since starting this blog, I have advanced effort after effort to promote and sell myself as a writer and as a game designer. I have never for a moment imagined that anyone who made any sort of purchase with me wasn't exchanging what they had for what I had. I certainly never felt that they nor I were getting the better end of the deal - nor have I ever had anyone suggest this was the case.
As a writer, for nearly all of my life, I chased the dream of having some publisher recognize my work as deserving of being published. Towards this end I have mailed and mailed and mailed envelopes with chapters, outlines, proposals and whole books, waiting for the day when magically some publisher or agent, would pick up a piece of my work and, like in all the movies, express their joy at seeing something of mine. "Why, my lad, of course we'll publish you! Here's a $20,000 cheque! Stop working, get us that book and we'll put it on every shelf in America!"
(no Canadian imagines that every shelf in Canada means anything).
While waiting for this momentous moment I wrote articles for magazines and received dismal, laughable compensation. When competitions for writing plays and short stories came out, I wrote for these and would sometimes receive a nice, handwritten letter telling me I had won third prize and no money. When I went to the University of Calgary I wrote for the Gauntlet, the paper there with a circulation of 10-12,000, started quite a few letter writing wars and got to the point where on the first day of class a professor would recognize my name from the paper and either praise me or grumble - but still, no money.
In the 90s, when 'Zines became the rage, a friend and I started a Zine, sold advertising, published the thing entirely with our own skills (learned from the Guantlet) and turned a profit; not enough of a profit to live on, but a profit. Still, when my partner decided it wasn't worth the slim profit, and quit, I started another Zine, on my own, sold advertising for it myself and turned a profit. But, again, that was doomed to failure when a combination of losing my job and breaking my arm and having money stolen from me ended in going broke.
So I began writing for the stage. I put together plays. I edited the work of other stage writers and made a little money. I sold more work as a freelance author. Then I got my big break! I got a regular paying freelance gig for a real estate magazine that earned me the incredible sum of $300 a month. Then I got a job with a business newspaper that would pay me $25 an hour for acting as Head of Research and then Head of Circulation, a place where I was appreciated and supported and was surrounded by other writers . . .
And then 2008/09 happened; advertising dried up during the great newspaper plunge; and it turned out the business manager was stealing $40K a year from the paper's coffers; the owners lost all they owned; I lost my job; and I went back to writing.
Then I got a great gig with a video-on-demand service and that lasted until . . . last year. When another recession hit and it has been a bloody miserable crapfest since. And not just for me.
Despite all this, I consider myself a success. Yes, dear readers, I know I've had to be a hypocrite with the module and all (though I dare anyone to find another module anywhere available on a digital, piratable format). Yes, I know I've had to get on my knees and try to make something happen more quickly than I would have preferred. Yes, people have every right to feel that I've gone against my principles and sold out.
Whatever happens to me, I will still be a writer. In my youth, every teacher and authority would tell me, "The chances of being a successful writer are a thousand-to-one!" This was intended to dissuade me. This was intended to make me give up writing and apply myself to something else. Instead, I've decided to keep at it and keep at it until the odds have steadily lowered; to a hundred-to-one; to forty-to-one; to ten-to-one. So it goes.
Rest assured, I am marketing my work. Not every writer in the world makes it the way writers always do in the movies.