Sharing the Journey

The Lost Path by Wood Dickinson - Copyright © 2019

I have been to a few writers’ workshops where the topic of social media was covered. In the past film companies used to send their stars out to appear at theatres all over the country when a new picture was coming out. It was an opportunity for movie theatre goers of that time to do what we call today ameet and greet. As the studio system in Hollywood fell apart the hold studios had over their stars evaporated the days of film stars touring the country to meet their fans ended. Today the film companies have the stars show up on late night television as a promotional tool and if it is in L.A. or New York they will appear at film premieres and that’s about it…

Now it’s 2019 and all I hear about is how writers have to connectto their audience, fans I guess, through social media. In the past few writers had fans but now writers are told that it is imperativeto their success that they interact with their fans and stay in consistent (constant) contact with them – their fan base. That’s if they want to be successful. I find this confusing because now we live in a time where our celebrities, who love the attention by the way, seem to shun direct contact with their public and writers who usually like to stay out of the limelight must step into it.

Reality Check: Book publishers have scaled back their marketing efforts for a large number of the titles they produce. Top authors will get the best bookstore position money can buy and tours especially if they are a celebrity in their own right. To this end many of the writers they recruit are past celebrities by way of their political position, scandals, crimes or other new worthy things.

In the film business the top companies have moved toward making movies for $100+ billion. That way they develop fewer films but movies that will gross half a billion dollars world-wide by the end of its life. Fewer movies means few choices for us and most films are made up of thin comic book stories with underdeveloped characters and predictable three act construction. They release these movies on over 3000 screens and maybe even outside the USA before the domestic opening. Theatres get two strong weeks at the highest film rental then attendance drops off drastically. Before I sold Dickinson Theatres I told my senior employees that this reality was coming. They thought I was crazy. I mean that. Some even got mad at me for even suggesting what has become the current reality.

There is big upside for the film companies. They spend $130,000,000.00 on one picture that probably will gross $500,000,000.00. They could make ten pictures for this same amount of cash but statistics says out of these ten movies at least six will fail, two will break even, one will be a hit and maybe one will be a blockbuster. I get this. Film companies are about making money not producing art. Same is true for publishers. I get that publishers like to make money so it makes perfect sense to put lots of money behind a new book by Oprah Winfreyknowing people will buy it and libraries will order lots of copies. I bet she didn’t have to come up with the marketing plan for her latest book but us regular authors get constantly asked to include a marketing plan with a book proposal. I mean, seriously? When did a person who trained in creative writing in college then spend their time and money attending strings of workshops ever get trained in marketing or learn how to build a marketing plan?

When I wrote and produced a feature films I sold them to distributors who never wanted my ideas on marketing. They have a marketing departments and those folks (trained in marketing by the way) know what they are doing. I was asked to go make another movie. That’s what I know how to do. My interaction with the public was minimal (festivals and awards ceremonies), my time was spent creating more projects.

Today authors can’t do this. When they should be creating new material, they have to come up with some bogus marketing plan or spend time on social media expanding their fan base.

For those of you who aren’t writers let me tell you that writing is an intense solitary endeavor. You do it alone because only you can put the words on a page. Words that tell a story you want to convey. So, by its nature writing draws people who are a bit more introverted than most. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy social gatherings it means I’m comfortable working in my office for six hours all alone. In many ways this push to get writers more involved in social media and interacting with fans isn’t all bad. We as a group tend to spend a lot of time alone so this reaching out to folks might be a good thing. Damn the marketing aspect of publication and self-promotion. Forget the danger of looking like a budding narcissist pushing yourself to be a bit more “out there.” As my old friend Patty Buckley use to say, “In actual fact,” all this might not be all bad.

So, what I’m getting at is this, I am working on an organized plan to interact in a much more consistent way through social media. A good point that was made at one workshop I went to was the fact that it is important to share your journey. I take that to mean the journey of why I write, why this story, along with sharing the triumphs and failures of getting words on the page. It is a chance to tell you all about the everyday struggles I face to get a story to the finish line. Talk about the research that goes into a project and how is it I can imagine people who don’t exist, put words in their mouth, create lives that never were then still act sane sitting at my grand-daughter’s softball game.

I hope that this will be a help to other writers especially new or young writers or at best some entertainment for you. I think I’ll share more work in progress and maybe even develop an old idea to just write and give away. I will also share poetry I have written. More on that next blog. To be honest, I am not a social media person. I mean I have all the platforms and everything but don’t pay much attention to them like my wife does. I have to make some changes in how I feel about all this so I can sustain the effort. My hope is I will be able to integrate this self-promotional activity into my everyday workday without hindering the real work of creating a novel or short story along with my photographic work. Time will tell if it does make a difference. Time will tell if I can be effective enough at the use of social media to make a difference. Still, I won’t know how to create a marketing plan! I didn’t go to college for that.

For the record all my online media can be found at