I follow a bunch of other bloggers and writers and there are two habits, characteristics…
Whatever you want to call them, they have to do with relying on others versus relying on yourself. An example of each readily come to mind but I’m not going to name them; it’s enough to say that they’re both fairly successful, more so than the average blogger or indie author. There’s a huge difference between the way they each approach their audiences though. One has a few books published and he blogs about art, life, and writing. The other hasn’t written even one book and focuses exclusively on this thing we call blogging.
The latter doesn’t ask for help often, if ever. He’s got nothing to really sell, except his services in teaching you how to gain an audience… but then that’s not really here or there. I don’t think he offers that service anymore and it would be irrelevant to his own success anyways. He has over a million views, tends of thousands of subscribers, and posts relentlessly, prolifically. Pretty much every day. He pulls all this material and content from somewhere inside himself, and is also driven to seek out people he might be interested in (or that might be interested in him).
He has an audience because he seeks one, unafraid to admit as much. He doesn’t really rely on the audience much at all either, despite specifically writing for an audience. That’s not where most of his ideas come from for posts. He comes up with opinions, doesn’t shy away from anything however controversial it might be, and doesn’t censor himself at all. It’s a stark contrast to the other guy I’ve got in mind because he asks for donations all the time.
He offers deals on his novels regularly, offers re-blogs and what not as part of the perks if you donate towards his efforts. None of which I’ve got a problem with but…
It seems like a lot of the same things are said, a lot of the same problems encountered, and a lot of begging plays a role in solving them. I’m hardly one to criticize that because I say you ought to do whatever works. But I’ve got too much pride to be asking for donations. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have a specific project in mind or a finished book waiting to be edited and published. Nothing solid to offer as a promise if I reach a certain amount of money. But I still prefer the attitude and approach of the other guy, the one that asks for nothing.
That doesn’t give a shit about offending people.
That invites you to leave his blog if you don’t like it.
It’s a disposition I can understand because it’s got a lot in common with my own outlook. Some might say I write “better” than others, whatever the hell that means, but I don’t. More is always better so I’d say he wins in that department. Anyways, I don’t like the idea of displaying desperation or appealing to anybody to help me. As much as I like the guy that’s always asking for money and offering perks, publicity, etc. in exchange… as much as I love the way he talks about art, I can’t get behind his passive and pleading approach to getting his books out there.
It must be working for him ’cause he’s got way more subscribers than me right now, but then again… he’s also been at this a lot longer than I have. His achievements shouldn’t be dismissed but it seems like he could get so much further.
If only he wasn’t so shameless in asking for help. If only he was as cocky and self confident as I probably seem to be. I don’t like seeing a reflection of my insecurities though, and I don’t like reflecting that back at other people. That’s not something I want to be known for at all and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be. Matter of fact if the time ever comes when I ask for money or I try to generate interest in my fiction here, I won’t be begging for money if I can help it.
I might ask, I might invite it, but only in exchange for a product, a service, a reward… not because I’m desperate, but because I’ll have something I believe in, something I think you’ll want to buy. It’ll probably never become the central focus of this blog either.
There might be breadcrumbs here and there, the occasional mention, a sample from time to time, but I don’t figure people subscribe here because they want to listen to a sales pitch. Best case scenario it’s because they like the way I write or they take an interest in the things I talk about.
It’s possible they might also then be interested in reading a novel I wrote, but that’s not guaranteed and donations are even less so. The way I look at it, if you berate people with shit like that they’re bound to lose interest, and rightfully so. I know that’s not what I sign up for when I subscribe to a blog, newsletter, or anthology. I sign up because I’m willing to spend some of my very limited time alive reading content from that site and its authors.
In a Nutshell
You get someone to spend time on your writings, it gives you a foot in the door.
They might also be interested in buying larger or more ambitious things (e.g. a novel), but push your luck and you’ll find most people aren’t as charitable as they believe themselves to be. On that count I’ve got no illusions. As a reader, if you bombard me with advertisements, pleas for help, descriptions of your hardship… I’ll lose probably interest. So will most other people.
I usually keep the reverse of that in mind when I’m writing.
So the take away, from comparing those two writers, from what I’m saying here, is…