Monday, August 15, 2016

We should all be very worried!

A recent event in the music business caused me to take brief pause in my writing. Singer/songwriter Paul Simon is quitting the business. Now, I’m not the hugest of Paul Simon fans. I do like his music, and his impact on folk rock history is solidified. It’s the reason why he’s quitting that has me, as an artist, very worried.

Paul just released his 13th solo album. He states in interviews that he worked extremely hard on the songs and he thinks they are some of his best. But as the “drop” date neared, something horrible and unexpected happened. The entire album was already on the internet for free! All the hard work Paul put into the music was now available without cost to anyone who wanted to listen. You can imagine Paul’s disappointment and his feelings of “why bother doing it anymore?”. As an artist, I understand the creative urge and the inner desire and addiction to produce. The intensity can be all-consuming at times. I myself have recently come upon profound shock and disappointment.

At this post, I have written thirteen novels, eleven of which are published through Amazon. Four have hit #1 in their genres. One book, DROP OUT, even broke the top 100 in the entire Amazon store. You would think I’d be extremely proud of these accomplishments since the average indie author sells less than fifty copies, and I am… I am also saddened by what I discovered. I have become the Paul Simon of writers.

My books have been pirated. Over the last year, I’ve watched my sales slow and my royalties lessen. I’m not ignorant of the business, I know a book has only so much life in it, but when my KENP pages also began to dry up, I did a little research. With some internet digging, and ignoring the Google unsecure site warnings, anyone can now download my books in PDF for free. It was a shock at first, seeing my books in document form available to anyone with an internet device, but then the depressing reality sunk in. The notion of writing as a livable profession, like nearly every other art form, is going to disappear.

What can be done? I don’t see a solution. Encryption will only be hacked. Mass sharing of material will be the norm. A reader need only type a title into a search engine and the book will appear for them to read. It’s happened to music. It’s happened to photography. It’s happening to every art form. It’s a devastating blow to those of us who have spent decades perfecting our talents.

As a serious, obsessed, compulsive writer, I can only swim with the storm and continue to do what I do best. Nothing can stop the future and technology from advancing and changing our way of life. Art as a paying profession is dying. Unlike Paul Simon and his music, I am not going to quit writing… I can’t! But the dream of continued fame and fortune grows fainter as the time spent writing becomes more of a novelty and not a serious form of expression and escapism.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

How to go viral?

The title of this post may be a bit misleading. It is not a lesson on winning the viral lottery. This is a curious plea for answers. I was surfing Facebook this morning and I came upon several videos that caught my attention causing me to pause and click. Two were funny animal posts (which I love), two were posts of people doing dumb things, and one was of a car accident (morbid sense of curiosity).

When I looked down at the number of shares for these videos I was astounded. The average was five million views, with one dog-baby video currently at more than thirteen million. What sets these videos apart among the thousand per second that are being uploaded every single minute of the day? Why do these videos soar across the internet while other more fascinating, funny, or intriguing videos disappear into the insatiable cyber universe? How does something go viral? What is the secret? Why this post and not that post? Why? Why? Why?

Over the years that I’ve maintained my blog I’ve had a few posts go “somewhat viral”. One post even received more than 100,000 hits, if you combine Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and several other social media sites. But millions and millions of views just on Facebook? How is it achieved?

Monetary benefit is not important to me at this stage of the novel writing game, it’s exposure that’s priceless. Eleven of my books are published on Amazon and a viral post could catapult my career. Going viral opens doors otherwise securely locked against success. Ask Rebecca Black, her critically and brutally trashed song ‘Friday’ went viral with more than 97,000,000 views, earning her well over a million dollars selling advertising on the page.

So how do you do it? How do you create the diamond post that changes your destiny forever and shines amongst the vast sands of the internet?

I wish I could tell you.