Let me just start by saying that I’m probably the least qualified person to talk about the subject mentioned but I just want to offer some views about it.
I was on Twitter this morning and saw a link posted up by @elizabethscraig, the subject being “The Cure for Frustrated Writer’s Syndrome”. The link was directed to Jeff Goins’ (a writer) blog, which proceeded to talk about how…
“Being a good writer is not enough”
Now while the writer inside of me beckons me to scream in frustration (especially since I’m not that good just yet), whatever that came later in the blog post actually made sense – we live in an era where the best does not equal the winner’s table. You may argue or refuse to accept it until kingdom comes but the matter of fact is that it is happening and will continue to happen.
You see indie bands/ rockers with standards way better than those with multi-million record deals, are they even close in terms of that? You enjoy the best desserts from a café in the corner of a bistro street, people will still rather go to the Cheesecake Factory (no offence to the Cheesecake Factory).
And why is it that there are some amazing novels suffering short shelf life to make way for celebrity writers that get advancement after advancement just for publishing pictures and writing about their life?
In the end it comes down to this word – Marketing.
I agree. Some people may shun it like it’s the epitome of filth, saying that content will still be king but if you want exposure, you’re not going to get it just by going around your friend list or hoping that your fabulous piece will be picked up by an agent in shades going flashbangwow at your novel.
So how do we “play” this game?
The challenge for myself and probably a whole group of local fiction writers could be summed into one word: “Stereotype”.
It’s kinda like the “type-casting” of the literary world, where the Asian writers are only expected to write about misery and suffering in an oppressed country. However, not all Asian writers are like so, but the ones that break out of that mould are few and far between. So there’s already the stereotype there that one has to jump over in their marketing and it’s one hell of a jump.
We can market our fiction as “literature (I include literature AND genre in the same umbrella because they are) with local influences” in the best angle, brand and profile ourselves like crazy, engage, engage, engage but still get faced with a stereotype-powered resistance or a quota list (with the obligatory (usually the same) Asian name).
Hence it brings me to the main question, “How do you ram the wall down then?”