Archive for February, 2010

Perceived Value in Art

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Mur Lafferty has a fine post on her I Should be Writing site that takes a look at the digital versus physical media debate, with respect to the mythical term of “value.” Mur’s thoughtful commentary got me to thinking, as it often does, and inspired me to scribble out some of  my thoughts on the subject as it relates to giving away free content. In this day and age, the digital (virtual) vs. physical (sink your teeth into it) topic is on the mind of many more artists than not. It’s not secret that I’ve given away my books as free podcasts.  Delivering this content as a podcast took a lot of man hours, a lot of sweat, and about three pints of blood daily.  By rights, I *should* be charging a fee for people to subscribe to my podcasts.   But would people find the same value in this content if they had to pay, say, a dollar a month, for the the it? Or is it the “free” that makes the podcast experience such a satisfying one?  By adding price tag, I might risk the sentiment  Wow this book was great and it was free..AND produced in a basementturning into a I don’t think it’s worthwhile to pay money for something produced in a basement.” I won’t lie and say that I haven’t fantasized about charging a subscription/download fee.  If I did that, I could quit my day job and become a writer and podcaster full time.  Regardless, I still find great value in sharing my work through the free audio medium.

In terms of “payment,” listeners have shown their apprecaition in many ways and I’ve listed a key few below.  The following items don’t help me pay for servers, file hosting, gear, or bourbon, but they still have a great deal of value:

  • Reviews–iTunes, Amazon, blogs
  • Spreading the word
  • Emails expressing the enjoyment
  • Error catching
  • Simply being there an audience (I’ll explain this)
  • Dirty pictures (okay, I made that up).

It’s not a secret that bringing a book into print involves a long turn around, a year, two years, maybe even more–this ontop of however long it took to write and edit the book so that it’s ready for the prime time.   Delivering content via a podcast, I can get my story out there relatively quickly, not as quick as a new song, but quick enough that I’m remain on the right side of the instant gratification side of the line.  The excitement I receive from my ever-growing listener base when I release a new podiobook, short story, or general podcast is valuable, even if I can’t slap a price tag on it.

Podcasting has helped me sell many more books than I would have otherwise without cultivating a large and supportive fan base as a first.  Is it a one-to-one ratio or even a two-to-one ratio? No.  I think the direct return on investment for a podcast novel is a nebulous topic, at best, and better suited for a post of it’s own.

But back to the question of how value is assigned to the virtual product versus the physical.  Consider Crescent in its Podiobook form.  The podcast is not something a listener can hold in their hands and smell, curl up with in front of the fire, or spill coffee all over.   It cannot be placed on a bookshelf for the admiration of owner and friends.  The for cost, e-Book version of Crescent, though extremely popular on Amazon,  is not something your dog can eat. Your child cannot smear spaghetti sauce all over it. Does that make the expression contained in the neat rows of zeros and ones any less valuable than the thoughts and ideas expressed within the pages of Crescent’s print counterpart? I think the value comes from the story itself and any entertainment that it may provide, be it consumed by the ears or the eyes or requiring a battery.  One way or another, it’s getting to the brain.

Will I continue to podcast my fiction? Absolutely. So long as people continue to download my material and persist in asking for more of it, I’ll give what I can.  Will all of it always be 100% free? That’s hard to say. I’m getting ready to experiment with sponsorship, so that should certainly help.  Will I pursue getting my work into e-Book format and print for that matter? Of course.

What’s makes art valuable to you?

You are what you are

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Writer Unboxed had a post yesterday entitled the “the Uniqueness of You.” It’s a brief post, but I found it to be thought provoking all the same. It’s no secret that I’m actively seeking a literary agent. It’s the logical next step for my writing career. Though I haven’t been at it for that long, the process has been lengthy and at times hard. On the agent side of things, it’s a subjective beast when choosing writers to present. If the story doesn’t rub a person an agent just write, they can’t be expected to embrace it and sell it with everything they’ve got. Thus far, all of the rejections I’ve received have been positive (yes there is such a thing) and generally prefaced with “clearly, you are an exceptional writer” there has been the “but this project just isn’t write for me (or the agency) at this time. So of course, this raises the question if I’m such a fine writer, what am I doing wrong? I’ve come to a place where I can say, I’m not doing anything wrong. I tell my stories with *my* voice and no one else’s, and that it can’t be everyone’s bag. I’m fortunate to have ten’s of thousands of fans who I do rub the right way.

A lot of my followers are writer’s themselves and are out there trying to sell their work and reach that next level. I receive emails from people who are discouraged by the rejections they receive. It’s only natural to take rejection hard, but you don’t have to take it to heart. You’ve got to believe in yourself, brother. You can’t second guess what you’re doing just because there are some people out there who aren’t down with it. Second guesses will only get in the way of the writing that you should be doing every day. As writers, we are our own worst enemy and that internal voice of negativity is something you need to keep at bay. Bitch slap it not once, but twice. You know why? at some point, you are going to find the right person who will want to see you rise to the top and who will have the tools and passion to get you there.

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