for the Creatives

Sorry, but there’s no market for your idea…

Many artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers hear that there’s no market for their dream. It’s dire, folks, but here’s some hope for ya.

Psst! I heard that some odd sort of people prefer watching videos over reading articles. Super weird. But weird people are my type of people, so I made a video preview of this blogpost. Now you can go watch the great quirky awkwardness of me instead of reading my awkwardness in blogpost form. 

 

So I was walking through Barnes and Noble and stumbled across these books:

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They were on the shelves in the front, the money-maker shelves. You know what I’m talking about, the shelves that mean publishers have bought into this book, that have said “Yes, these will make money, put them prominently on display for all to see!” Those kind of books.

But these aren’t your typical money-maker books.

Exhibit A: poetry.

Let’s be real, I totally judge books by covers, and I bought “The princess saves herself in this one” without even opening it. But when I did open it, I found poetry. A story in poetry form.

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Poets are notorious examples of being told “there’s no market for your work.” When’s the last time you read poetry from a book? Probably high school. Poets are told they’ll only get interest on cutesy Instagram or Facebook images, and they’ll never get a publishing deal, and if they self-publish, they’ll never have any readers. Yet Amanda Lovelace, I don’t think she listened to that. At least not entirely. Because she wrote poetry and convinced probably an agent and a publisher that her work was worth front shelf placement at Barnes and Noble.

Exhibit B: Cartoon drawings with bad spelling, for adults not kids.

Like seriously, how do you pitch THAT to an agent or publisher? Got me! I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it on a blogpost.

It’s a book of cartoon drawings. An alien comes to earth to study humans, but the alien is bad at spelling and grammar so the book is full of cutesy misspellings, and the alien is actually befriending non-humans like rocks and animals and trees, but it’s insightful and philosophical into what actually makes us human. Oh yeah, it’s not a children’s book, it’s for grown-ups.

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Okay, I have no idea how he pitched it, probably better than me, but I’m just saying if your dream sounds crazy, you’re in good Barnes-and-Noble-front-shelf company.

 

The business guy top secret insight:

After posting that Facebook video about these books, my business school brother messaged something insightful.

I had mentioned that poets often hear stuff like, “Nobody buys poetry anymore, they only read it on cutesy Facebook or Instagram posts.” I had said these authors didn’t listen to that negativity.

My brother noted my claim isn’t quite correct. They did listen to that. They noticed where the audience was and went to it. Amanda Lovelace started on Tumblr before ever being published, and I heard that Jomny Sun was on Twitter before being published. They both went to their market to get their big break. You can find your market and build interest now, too.

There’s a step in the right direction for ya. Past the dreaming and onto a practical tip. This is why my bro will make the big bucks 😉

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Musings of a Creative

The book title that got the least votes, but wins

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with politics. Let’s not go there 🙂

If you don’t follow me on other social media, you missed out on a survey to vote on the title of my short story. (I’m sorry, I actually planned on posting it here, because you’re some of my greatest fans, but I suddenly had an unplanned deadline of 24 hours, so…)

And wouldn’t you know it, the title that got fewer votes wins. 

How’s that possible you ask? In short:

Reader responses….

If you ever plan on surveying your reader base, having an open comment section can make it take more of your time, but that time may be important.

If I only had the multiple choice options, here’s what I would have seen:

 

 

The image on the left is a “Select All” question of which titles the reader might purchase. The image on the right is the “Select One” question of which title I should name my book.

Either way, that light blue color is definitely not the “winner.” I would obviously name my story off the dark blue title. Right? 

But I’d made the decision to ask the voters to plead their cause. “Why that book? Why NOT the others?” and that’s where things got interesting.

First off, I found out the Yellow title – which off the bat was actually winning the “race” – a voter informed me that title was very similar to a title of a different story. Mine sounded like a spin-off. So I deleted that option right away. (Thanks voter!)

So what were the two competing titles, you ask?

Dark blue: Memoir of a Murderer

Light blue: I Know You Like a Murder

How did I Know You Like a Murder win without winning?

Reason #1: The response of those who chose I Know You Like a Murder

You probably knew this was one of the reasons. Check it out!

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To sum up, the readers who voted for I Know You Like a Murder got it! It made them think. They’re my type of reader. “Quirky, personality, weird, unusual”, they get the vibe of my story. If you voted for this title, this may be the story you’re looking for 🙂

 

But there was another reason that pushed me to choosing I Know You Like a Murder.

Reason #2: The response of those who chose Memoir of a Murderer

Maybe you didn’t see that one coming. But first off, those who picked this title were looking for a deep internal look at a murderer. And my story isn’t that story – though that’d be a great story for someone 🙂

More than that though, their responses about I Know You Like a Murder and why they didn’t vote for it, just made me want to pick it even more. 

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  1. My protagonist is definitely patronizing
  2. Doesn’t that “I’m not sure about buying it because I don’t want people to think I like murder comment” just make you want to name the title that?
  3. “Odd.” Uhmm, yeah. If everyone thought the title was odd and wouldn’t buy it, sure, I’d want to take that into consideration. But the fact it’s odd reaches a niche audience that we’ve already seen want odd, and that’s what I’m going for, so this just confirms that THIS reader isn’t MY reader. And that’s fine 🙂
  4. My protagonist is definitely presumptuous, and this is hilarious.
  5. “I don’t like murder.” Uhmm, yes you do, in the first sentence of your response you said you found it intriguing 😉 hehe once again, doesn’t this just make you want to name it I Know You Like a Murder?

The responses showed me that if I named the story Memoir of  a Murderer, more readers might pick it up, but they’d be the wrong readers. They’d start reading and hate the story and I’d have missed my audience.

But if I named my book I Know You Like a Murder, it’ll be a smaller audience, but it’d be the right audience, that audience looking for a story like mine, that would like a story like mine. It’s my niche, my tribe, my people who get me 😉

 

Do You Like Murder [Mysteries or Writing]?

And so, that’s how it was determined that my story will be titled I Know You Like a Murder.

  • Sound interesting? Stay tuned to get your hands on it.
    Sound horrible? Mehh okay, it’s not for you. Sound off in the comments below – don’t worry, we’re still buds 🙂

Think I made the right choice, or wrong choice?

And hey, are you interested in writing Memoir of a Murderer, because it sounds like a cool story that people want to read 🙂 Have at it!

for the Creatives

Build it before Ellen DeGeneres shows up

You get stuck in an elevator with Ellen DeGeneres. This sounds like one of her pranks waiting to happen, but it’s really not. You’re just stuck there. And you start talking about your dream.

  • the book you have in you
  • the music you’re making
  • the product you present to the world
  • the nonprofit you’re creating
  • the community you’re building
  • the art you create

All of the sudden, she buys in. She’s totally sold on YOUR IDEA! How awesome is that, right?

Then she invites you to talk on her show, give a pitch, sell your idea to the world. But right now, she’s walking on stage as you’re rescued from the elevator, “My audience is your audience. Invite them to your dream.” Except, oops:

  • you haven’t written the book
  • you have no music prepared
  • you don’t have a website to direct traffic to
  • you have only 5 pieces to sell and no pictures to show

You now have millions of people ready to buy into your dream, but you have nothing to show for it. Nothing.


Okay, I have not yet been trapped in an elevator with Ellen, and that’s good because I’m not prepared for that either.

But I can on a very very small scale relate. Very very small.
  • Strangers liking my public Facebook posts, but I hadn’t thought to add the Follow button
  • A blogpost that brought 1k+ viewers, but there was no way for non-WordPress users to stay in the loop
  • A free $30 Facebook coupon, but I didn’t have a product to advertise

Sometimes we buy into the lie that if we just had luck on our side, if we could just get the audience that someone else has, then we’d make it. But we can’t wait for opportunity – we have to prepare for it.

I don’t want you to be like me. I mean, in the above ways at least 🙂 When Ellen buys into your idea, I want you to be ready! And I want to be ready.

Here’s how I prepared and am preparing:

  • You can now follow my Facebook profile AND like my Facebook page AND follow me on Twitter
  • You can follow this blog through email (see the sidebar) as well as through WordPress, and I’m working on an email newsletter (you can pre-join the list now, but have grace for my MailChimp stumblings.)
  • I finished the first draft of my quirky meta murder mystery. In the editing process, then finding a way to get it out to all my lovely readers (YOU!)

To introduce your dream to others, make sure you get working on the following:

  • Something tangible to offer: the product, the idea, the work, whatever they need to buy into, get it out of your head and into the real world.
  • A public place for your dream: whether that’s a Facebook page, website, Etsy, blog, email newsletter – your audience needs a place to go once they buy in.
  • An action for your audience to take: buy the product, donate to a cause, follow your blog, spread word to their community….don’t let them just show up and leave.

I’m still a work in progress. But we all are 🙂 We’ll never be entirely ready for the big moment. But let’s do what we can to get there. Build it before they come. And by “they” I mean your audience in general, but especially Ellen 😉