|Yeah, man. If you don't love FDR, they's something wrong wit' you.|
If I wrote a story and then printed it off, and then took it down the hall, up and down the stairs of this building, and ultimately out onto the street, how many people do you think would read my story?
What if I stood out in front of the liquor store, like some unshaven guy with a guitar, only I tried to interest people in my story?
How many people do you think I could get to read my story in one day, i.e. any given 24-hour period?
Not too many, eh? I agree totally with you.
However, when I published ‘5150: the Bug Feeder’ earlier today, I got thirty-eight hits within the first hour.
By posting it again, later, I see by Blogger analytics that the story has received 53 hits today.*
We can only speculate how many readers got through to the end, or how many rolled their eyes and groaned and shut it down, or how many people were just looking for something else—perhaps there is such a thing as a bug feeder after all. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen—they wanted to buy a bug feeder and I tricked them into reading my story by good SEO. (Search Engine Optimization.)
But how long would it take me to get fifty page hits or ‘reads,’ if you will, by following established protocols, by going the traditional route, by seeking readers ‘the good, old-fashioned way,’ with its massive tooth-to-tail ratio, with all of its built-in costs, and worst of all for one such as I, the committees.
I have little or no patience for the un-artistically inclined, for those who do not share my vision, who just want a secure job with good benefits and pay, just putting in time waiting to retire and head for Fort Lauderdale to take interpretive dance lessons and finally learn how to do a proper set of jazz hands, all spotted due to the liver as they may be…
The committee that decides who will be asked for a partial on their submission—that’s when they ask for chapters four to seven, and whose manuscript, up until now under serious consideration by that very same committee, will be rejected.
The cover committee, the marketing committee, the publicity and promotions committee, the list could be endless for all I know.
But I don’t have to do it that way. Not anymore. That is the real revolution here. I don’t need anyone’s opinion, or permission. Hell, I don’t even need much of a budget. All I need is some drive, some ambition, a little self-worth, and I’m off to the races. All I got to do is write some books and create some products.
I don't need a consensus.
What you need is a product, ladies and gentlemen. Tell you what, selling books is actually quite hard.
Garage doors are easier to sell. Corn, wheat and sow-bellies are easier to sell, real estate is easier to sell.
Roofs are easier to sell, and so are drywall jobs and all kinds of other skilled or semi-skilled work. You see, people actually need those things, and books are actually a luxury—discretionary spending. People have a choice when it comes to discretionary spending, and that’s because they don’t have to do it.
They just want to and that is okay by me. I got just the thing for you! A book, ladies and gentlemen.
Now if you can sell books you can sell anything, but I don’t really have a ‘philosophy of building a company’ like Jeff Bezos (Amazon) or Steve Jobs (Apple) or anybody. I don’t much care either, because Shalako Publishing is not so much about building a world-wide empire as just writing some books and doing the right thing by them. And the readers, but for me the story is everything. I don’t much give a shit beyond that point, and that is well and truly who I am. It takes all kinds to make a world, right?
Getting them books out into the world where they can do their job of entertaining the people, and if we can squeeze in a little enlightenment along the way, well, then that’s okay too. That’s why I’m here. Basically, I’m just going to do what is necessary and no more—a unique philosophy if there ever was one.
(He’s being facetious. – ed.)
Basically, we’re just doing our jobs around here. (Me and —ed.)
Now, if I had gone the traditional route for a first-timer, ‘a community author,’ which is all well and good if you don’t want to make money, and went about the whole process of making up a beautiful PDF of my traditonally formatted (print) book, it would have cost me about $1500.00 to get ‘professional’ artork, set up on the press, buy the paper and ink, and labour…for one hundred copies of one title, ladies and gentlemen. I would have probably done it once, or twice, or until I went broke or lost heart. Right?
“You see, the thing to do there is to get your book in the BookKeeper, (a local independent bookstore) and when someone buys a copy, you get two or three bucks…yada, yada, yada..” Conventional wisdom gets conventional results.
Yeah, and I’d have to list them at $22.00 to make any money. The store wants a cut, the government wants a cut, it costs money in gas and insurance to take them to the bloody bookstore. You would be lucky to get them in ten independent bookstores within any given tri-county area, and I know all about wrapping up two or three or five books and delivering them, all over a major city on a hot summer’s day because I have in fact done it before. I’m a repeat offender, ladies and gentlemen.
(You’ve been chasing this dream a long time, Louis. – ed.)
(Tell me about it. It was good experience though—man, I won’t ever do that again.)
At this point I have distributed approximately 40,000+ copies of my works. Under various pen-names, I have sixty-five products, (eleven or twelve PODs do duplicate some of the ebook titles) and I have sold or given away books in Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and God or Darwin or Hugo Grotius or for all I know Blaise Pascal himself, ah, (lost my train of thought there) knows what other countries. Fucking Isaac Newton himself couldn’t answer that question, I’m convinced, because the answer itself is moot, and he knows it, and I know it too. And you heard it here first, so, ah, don’t forget to tell your friends.
That is the real revolution.
It has its weaknesses. I cheerfully admit, the boys and girls at the local paper would look decidedly askance if I went down there in four or five different guises and tried to get publicity for my pen-names, just as a traditonal, ‘community author’ really ought to do...because they really want to bring my story to the attention of the local community, (and I accept that,) which, probably, never as long as I lived could have ever absorbed even the few thousand books I have sold or distributed by now…and I got a long ways to go, ah, ladies and gentlemen. A long ways. I’m going to have fun too. Just watch me.
Anyway, the way I see it, the question itself has become moot.
That’s pretty groovy, baby.
*Okay, now we get to the asterisk. My story, ‘Time out of Whack,’ got about eighteen hits today. That’s search-engine traffic, word-of-mouth, ‘passive discoverability,’ call it what you will. Yet I wrote that one a long time ago, and it just keeps on giving. That is a story that exhibits some ‘virality.’ There is the virality of the medium, and of course some human factors, on the part of readers or searchers or whatever.
For all I know, some first-year university kids are boning up on the speculative philosophy of particle physics or something.
Hopefully they’re smart enough to check their sources or get a second opinion.
Anyway, that’s it for me, and I am out of here.
Thanks for being here. Oh, I almost forgot: here’s a link to some other fireside chats.