I’m not gonna write a book.
Not a day goes by that I don’t get that e-mail. Well, at least multiple times a week. People think that will give me the imprimatur of success, will cement my credibility!
But the bottom line is I already reach more people than just about every author alive and if I took time out to write something new, I wouldn’t be able to do this.
You see I love the connection. Even more I love the writing. This is what I do. I’m not gonna change it for some old wave wankers who’ve got no idea what’s going on.
You want to talk about a challenged business… If you think music is bad, you’ve got to look at books. The quantities they sell are paltry. They don’t know who their readers are. If you think musicians are loath to social network, you don’t know any authors. They want to hang at home, preferably writing in longhand or on a Smith-Corona, thinking there is fulfillment and joy in doing it the old way. But not a one of them doesn’t complain that he doesn’t have more readers. That’s the nature of art, you want more people to be exposed to it.
And now you can do this, but the old pros refuse to. Don Henley refuses to participate online, won’t tweet, won’t comment, yet he’s one of the most erudite and opinionated musicians alive. Huh? What’s the problem Don? You afraid of the haters?
Oh, they’re legion. They come out of obscurity to eviscerate you and then go back into their holes, wearing the cloak of anonymity all the while. But if you’re not bobbing in the cesspool online you’re not even playing. It’s like refusing to be on AM radio in the sixties. Huh? That’s where all the people are!
Some days I write great stuff, and sometimes my work is mediocre. By my standards anyway. I’m never bad. You know why? I’ve done it too much. That’s your 10,000 hours right there. But although my audience likes good, they don’t really erupt until I create great. Which no one can do on a regular basis. So I keep pushing the rock uphill, waiting for inspiration, waiting to create incredible so my computer starts ringing like a pinball machine and I’ve got a euphoria…that lasts until the end of the day if I’m lucky. Then it’s back to the salt mines to create something new.
And that’s my philosophy. I don’t believe in selling, I believe in creating. I’m better off staying home and writing than doing any publicity. Because publicity is so bad at hitting the target. Most people reading or listening or watching just don’t care. But if I win online, my minions will forward what I have to say to like-minded people. I win through my art. Or lose, that’s the nature of the game.
I revere Tom Wolfe. But he took a decade to write a novel that was poorly reviewed and it sank like a stone. He could have serialized it online and worked out the kinks while he was building an audience and had a huge hit. That’s how he did it with “Bonfire Of The Vanities,” it originally appeared in serialized form in “Rolling Stone.” But NO, as John Belushi once bellowed, he had to do it the old school way, he had to employ a traditional publisher and get that big fat check. I hope that money keeps him warm at night, while he’s absent from the public discussion.
That’s what creators want… To be part of the public discussion.
And let me tell you, you don’t always win.
But the thrill is in playing.
The online game is a full contact sport. It’s like nothing previous. You’ve got to be great, you’ve got to persevere, and if you gain traction you can reach more people than traditional media outlets. Hell, I reach more people than some TELEVISION STATIONS!
And I’m not saying this to boast, I’m just telling you that if you’re inured to old rules you’re doomed to failure. The old metrics no longer apply.
Display online. Good and bad, warts and all.
Build an audience.
Don’t worry about money.
And if you hang in there for years, and are truly exceptional, you will be a star.
And the kind of star you’ll be might look different from the radio and video stars of yore, but chances are you’ll be bigger than the radio and video stars of today!