Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh audience My audience.

A word about the elephant in the room: Is this blog simply a "platform" in order to market my book?

Well no. First, I don't have a publisher or an agent. I have a finished manuscript, a direction and high hopes. I am learning as I go and my desire for the blog is to record that process and that it will be useful and of interest to some people.

Also it is cheaper than therapy.

But the question does bring-up a couple of points I'd like to talk about. The term "platform" is thrown around widely in the publishing industry. It was the buzz word of the last decade. If one has a fan base of five thousand on twitter, then that is supposed to translate into monetized book sales. So a new or mid-list writer might be asked, "what is your platform?" which is code for, "What tools do you have at your disposal to promote your book because we don't intend to do much marketing if we can help it." Yes, blogs are a kind of platform.

However, I take issue with the entire concept. I think social media are about community, not marketing. And though it is sometimes used as a marketing device, it likely has similar results as cold calling or mass mailings.

The second thing I'd like to mention on this issue is about my desire to reach an audience. As I said in my In the Beginning post, I started making art and writing with no real concern for audience. My only concern was the process and what I might learn from it. As the years rolled on, and my work and writing found its way in front of people, I began to gather information about peoples reactions to my work. This made me think more about my audience. But it wasn't until I became a father that I became really invested in the world, how things are done, social attitudes. And as an extension, the content of my work became more pointed, my main focus became speaking to as wide an audience as possible and making an impact once I was fortunate enough to get their attention.

Those are the things that led me from ceramics into artist books. I love ceramics, for me. I love books for me and what they allow me to share with an audience.

My friend and book artist Sara Walton Andrews sent me this Cat and Girl cartoon which I think fits nicely into this discussion. Enjoy.

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