Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)
I have a very small podcast, and I'm announcing that I'm shutting it down, because there's a lack of listeners... and explaining my reasons why.
In it, I decided to talk about how we find out new material, and I ventured onto books.
I thought I'd include that piece of the script here for you. Apologies for any triggers. "Show Note" links are at the end. Also, apologies for grammar markings, these are timed for speech recording. I didn't really envisage publishing in this form.
Social media is, to some extent, a mirror of the book industry. I haven’t talked about that yet… have I?
Money has distorted that sphere as well. To be honest, the publishing industry has been distorted for a long, long time. Arguably, ever since the printing press. Where the power of the words you read, were dictated by those who were the gateway to the machines themselves. I am, actually, concerned by the amount of bias that’s being inserted by journalists in the last few years; but that’s another story.
Just between the USA and the UK, one new book is published every minute. I will go to my grave only having ever heard of the existence of the tiniest proportion of books. What I would have read, would have been infinitesimally smaller again.
We are being censored every step of the way. From what the librarians saw and see fit to put on the shelves, to what the newspaper reviewers decide to highlight that week, to the adverts on the billboards and the best seller lists. You can say we can always ask for a book that isn’t there… but without seeing it, we don’t even know that it exists, in order to ask for it, in the first place.
We have also started to turn to book bloggers as a way out of the mainstream, but some of those are also biased; as it is possible to get an affiliate payment if someone makes a purchase on the basis of their reviews… And there isn’t any easy way to notice whether a blogger is doing this, unless you start analysing links.
At the moment, we’re starting to see large social media influencers get slapped on the wrists, if they fail to disclose that they are being paid for endorsements. I don’t see the same happening for affiliate links… so you’re never going to know whether a blogger is pushing a particular book … or rather… deliberately NOT pushing the books that they won’t get funding from.
I actually had hot words with some book review bloggers who had reviewed fifty shades, but wouldn’t review my books in the same genre, because they wouldn’t be of interest to their audience. So… hang on… fifty shades was a big tick, but not me. That should tell you all you need to know. So much is being driven by money and fame, that anything which isn’t pushed by someone, stands very little chance of selling a single copy.
The censorship and bias out there is unbelievable. Most of it in the name of money. And politics, of course. Links in the show notes, including one to a Politico report that the New York Times informed Harper Collins that it wouldn’t include Ted Cruz’s new biography on the bestsellers list, despite the considerable sales numbers it generated.
There are independent… or indie… markets out there. Not only indie books, but indie music, indie computer games, indie all sorts of stuff. The trick is that it takes time. Time to hunt them down. Time to get involved with the scenes… and the time… and money… to take a risk. Buy a book and read it, and risk not having enjoyed it.
In some societies, a few books are a necessary read simply to be able to join in the dinner table conversation. But that’s consuming the argument from the wrong end.
Julie Adenuga, a DJ on Apple’s Beats 1 station, stopped listening to the songs she was being sent because she was losing her – quote – natural connection to the music – unquote. It was because she missed having actual moments with music. Quote - "I want a friend to tell me about a song; I want to go out and hear it for the first time; I want to see an artist I've never seen before and go, 'This is amazing!'" - unquote
The music had become a commercial river. And she didn’t like that. She wanted to re-capture the natural discovery of music while living life. Link in the show notes to that article.
On a book forum, I’ve got 884 followers at the time of writing this. How the heck have I got that many people following me? I don’t know. The best conclusion I can come to, is that I’m reading the things that other people aren’t. A chunk of my reading, is outside the mainstream. That’s the only reason I can possibly think of.
I’m not daring, I’m not dashing, I’m not unnecessarily bitchy and I’m not entertaining. But I am reading things which are a bit off the beaten track.
And I’m doing the same with music as well. I’m actually signed up to an indie service. Once a month, a cassette tape turns up at work. I don’t know what’s on it. Certainly, a band I’ve never heard of. And I have an old Walkman that I’ve resurrected… so I can pop the tape in, and go out for a lunch time walk and listen to the music.
And I’m honest with myself. The majority of them are middle of the road. But now and then, I come across something really special. And that makes it all worth while.
Yes, that service is being curated as well, but fortunately the amount of music coming out by this mechanism is far, far slower than the number of books that are published. Could the book world do something similar? Probably not. The number of authors knocking down the doors of such a service, would be overwhelming.
I know of a number of reviewers who have tried to give honest reviews of new books. They’ve been utterly swamped. And haven’t received a penny for their troubles. Heck, everyone’s got to eat.
So here we are, stuck in a world where our time on this planet is limited, and we want to make the most of it. But if we really want to get off the popular roller coaster and have an adventure… then we’ve got to be prepared to work for it… and be ready to waste some time and be disappointed… if we really… one day… want to hold that undiscovered gem in our hands, like Indiana Jones and that rare, fabled diamond.
So, I’m not blaming anyone for not reading my books, or watching my videos, or listening to my pod casts. If I’m not sharing anything which makes people want to go, “wow!” then I can’t expect people to want to tell others about me. And I’m not going to disrespect either myself, or other people, by hyping myself up as something I’m not.
There’s an onus on me here, to produce something that’s worth talking about. But I’m not going to stoop to click bait and unnecessary drama in order to do it.
I will very likely have gone to my grave having never made it to 885 followers in the book forum… but so what. I’d rather live an honest, boring life… than a dishonest one where I’m always looking over my shoulder.
And don’t get me wrong. At one point I did want fame… but what changed was that others achieved it before me… and I saw what it did to them… and I thought… that’s not really for me.