How does one build a readership from the ground up? It seems at times to be a huge task, almost impossible. Back in the day, before the algorithms fully took over social media, you could do it. That’s how I got my initial boost: people were actually able to see the things that I was doing, and they clicked through and liked (or disliked) what they saw.
2021 is a completely different online landscape. People are shuttled into the tightly controlled hallways of Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, where the powers that be decide what you want to look at. There’s no real “browsing” online anymore. It’s all curated. I went to a used bookstore the other day and felt great. There was curation, of course, but there were also stacks and stacks of books with nothing guiding my search. In many ways, that’s how the internet used to work.
At this point, it’s not like my books are chilling in a used bookstore, somewhere. It’s more like they’re in the back of the store, down a hallway, guarded by several bouncers who need to hear specific passcodes to let you in, then down another hallway, where you’re finally led into a room with stacks and stacks of books and a man with goat legs asks you three cryptic questions and maybe, MAYBE comes back with my book.
Then there’s the issue of whether you’ll like it or not.
So what do you do?
You have to pretend as though the internet doesn’t exist. My little mantra lately has been “how did people become writers before the internet?” They organized live events, they flyered, they investigated channels of traditional publishing, they xeroxed copies of things and gave them away. They got creative, because you had to be creative. All of this goes without saying, you know, they wrote cool shit too. They put in work, basically.
It’s a slow process. You have to chip away at it, day by day, and eventually you’ll get somewhere. It’s not a dire situation. It’s just today.
I hope you have a good one.