Friday, January 9, 2015

Something New for Authors: Merchandizing

In the past I have written about how amazing the internet now is for the creative class. I have followed many different individuals over the last decade and a half on the internet, and some have risen to insane levels of stardom. And they all started with a small following to some videos posted online. My personal favorites are Lindsey Stirling, Scott Kurtz, and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins.

That is not a ranking in any sort of way of how I feel about them. My love of each comes from a different part of the creative persona that is me. As hilarious as it sounds - I possibly found all of them within mere minutes of each other. I can't confirm that but I came across them all during a distinct period of my college life.

I had purchased the MMO Heroes Online - and inside was a comic that Scott Kurtz had done. I enjoyed it more than game and began following him online. Shortly after I probably came across Penny-Arcade - the creative child of Jerry and Mike. I tend to binge-read a new comic that I find so chances are I stayed up all night reading both online comics.

Lindsey I found perusing the precursor of YouTube. It was a video of her dancing about playing a song of her own on an electric violin. It was love at first site. Stringed instruments are my favorite type of instrument to be played as their sound is, well, exquisite to my ears. If your song has them in it I am already a fan. Lindsey is a talented woman and I am very glad to see she has gone from that living room and moved on to things like, I don't know, National Television appearances and World Tours. Both pretty epic. I would settle for just one, but both? Goddamn!

What does this have to do with authors? Well it matters because there are a lot more ways for artists to get themselves in front of audiences. That is competition. These artists are all creating more than just a single item for visual consumption, they are branding themselves and getting other ways of engaging audiences. This means that if writers are going to maintain the same involvement they are going to have to adapt and do the same thing.

Authors need to find ways of getting in front of more than just an audience of individuals who read books. They need to find ways of getting people to come back again and again when they show up at conventions. This means that instead of just writing a story - we have to create other items to go with our world.

I am already preparing to do this myself. Once I get a bit more money in - I will be ordering the first in a series of collectors pins that compliment my book series. I am toying with the idea of creating my own audio book so that I can offer my story in another format. Eventually I will digitally paint a full world map for my book - I already did so on paper with colored pencils to great success. Hell - I am even planning on ideas for t-shirts and small posters for my fans to purchase. I will hopefully help use this as a way to re-engage my readers between books, and help draw people in to the books as the audience builds.

I am not a marketing genius - if I was I would have been on The Colbert Show before it ended. What I do know is that the creative class includes Authors - and if we don't keep up with those who are doing more and more to engage the audience we all vie for, we will be left behind. Get out there, make some doodles for symbols or images from your stories. Create a map of your fantasy world. Your future success may just depend on it. 

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