Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Guys on the Yachts

EVERYBODY is selling something. I note there’s now an “Underground Literary Society” on the internet--

which has a Media Communications arm which tells the writer that you have to have an online presence to brand yourself. At Outsider Writers Erik Deckers is selling pretty much the same thing: a book telling the writer how to use social media to brand yourself. Meanwhile, there are writing experts selling, for fees, info on how to write the saleable story and market it. I’m trying to find the experts’ own stories, and work of their pupils, and not having much success at it.

NO DOUBT all these folks, and a hundred others like them, have useful tips—ideas which could be incorporated into a workable literary program.

At the same time, I’m reminded of the commodity trader—an expert of sorts in the field—who I worked with. I helped sell his expertise via an old fashioned print newsletter. He told me once that the guys who could truly beat the markets, consistently, weren’t out hawking 1-900 numbers or books. They were sipping cocktails on their yachts.

I hear on the radio on weekends continual infomercials from guys who’ll tell you they have a winning system for picking football games. Listen to them carefully and you hear a desperate edge to their voices. If they could really pick the winners and make the million dollars they promise, why don’t they do it themselves? Why are they putting so much energy into signing up clients?

In some sense the same questions apply to the lit-biz. Come up with a true winner—a better art—and you’re going to exploit it yourself.

If 600,000 writers are using the same system—social media for branding, say—then there’s no possible way for the technique to work. There’s no way to stand out from the pack, which is what branding is about. In fact, using social media might be the very worst tactic to use, for reasons I’ll discuss in a later post.

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