Oh yeah, all you “anglers” can relate to this statement. You “non-anglers” — those of you who don’t fish anymore or have never wet a line — may be scratching your heads saying to yourself, “P.G. finally took that step off the cliff into the depths of madness.”
Stay with me here folks.
I’m willing to admit to a bit of insanity from time to time, but I ain’t lost my marbles. Well, except for that big cat’s eye shooter I had. Can’t find that sucker anywhere.
The year was 2006 and my first novel in the Gifter’s Ring Series, A Balance of Evil made it to press. It was great! It was awesome! It was the proudest moment of my life!
Me to my wife after she read this: “Yes dear meeting and marrying you was the proudest moment. Oh and yes, the birth of our four daughters was the second, third, fourth and fifth proudest moments of my life.”
Correction readers. It was great! It was awesome! It was the sixth proudest moment of my life! I had worked on it for the better part of ten years, yes you read that right, ten years and it was finally published. After patting myself on the back ( I was a hell of a lot more limber back then) I tossed my fishing line out and plopped the bobber into the river of readers.
I stuck the cane pole in the river bank and sat alongside it while I drank several beers waiting for that bobber to disappear, waiting for all the readers in the world to take the bait and yank it beneath the water. And I watched, and I waited and I stared at that red and white bobber for years, praying the readers would bite.
Oh I got a few nibbles, even some healthy tugs, but each time, the prospective reader ignored my bait and concentrated on other writers, other books to satiate their hunger.
I was convinced the work was good enough. I knew it was the right bait on the hook to catch a reader. So why weren’t the readers biting? Why were book sales so poor?
It wasn’t until I started reading all you blessed writers in the hallowed hallways of Medium that it hit me. You guys helped me figure it out.
I had good bait. I was fishing in the right spot. The problem was I seemed content to let my bob float in a river filled with other author’s bait and we were all vying for the same fish. We were all on the same river bank, but most of the authors were fishing much different and way better than I was.
They weren’t content to let their bobbers float in the shallows of the river waiting for fish to stumble upon their bait. These authors were using spinners and plugs, and artifical lures.
They were casting those suckers into the middle of the river where the deep water was, where most of the readers were swimming.
These authors were throwing their lures out, then reeling them in — sometimes fast, sometimes real, real slow — and then throwing them out again, over and over and over again.
When the lures or artificial baits seemed not to work they tried something else. They changed their lure and tossed that new jig back out into the middle of the river.
They were truly fishing, purposefully taking action to draw attention to their bait; advertising a promising and oh so delectable meal for the readers. They weren’t sitting on the bank of the river waiting for something to happen. They were practicing the art of fishing for their reader base.
It’s one thing to sit on the bank of the river and squint against a golden halo of sunlight ringing a bobber as it dances in the water. You can while away hours, days, weeks and even years watching your bobber undulate and sway in the waves. I’ll tell you, if you’re going for a moment of peaceful tranquility I can’t recommend a better way to waste time and consume a six pack of your drink de jour.
But if you want to sell your books you need to learn how to fish. How to really fish. You need to discover what lure works, what squiggly green or red or purple worm dancing through the water is going to prompt that bite, that next sale.
At some point in your career you’re going to need to stop fishing with a bobber and get your bait out there in the middle of the river where all the readers are swimming.
P.G Barnett is the author of the Gifter’s Ring series. His works, A Balance of Evil, Return of the Brethren and The Power of the Three are available for purchase.
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