Monday, January 29, 2018

Turning 30 This Year

I find that this year will be a highly thoughtful one as I approach 30 years old in July. While the 20s were an innocuous threshold wherein my youth was seemingly supplemented, the 30 year boundary is more foreboding and unknown. Considering that the largest event to befall me in my 20s was marriage, turning 30 is a different kind of strange, upon the cusp of which I experienced the death of my grandmother and the birth of my first child. This quality of “oldness” is amusing, if not revelatory, as I’m beginning to understand the apathy that comes with age. Apathy, I should clarify, not existential in nature, but a profound world-weariness. I spent much of 2017 embroiled in intense discussions of politics and culture, only to be rewarded with estrangement and utter fatigue. The stereotype that “old people” are out of touch with contemporary trends and movements is not rooted in their indifference, but the sheer exhaustion in keeping up, which to me is conceding defeat, though I empathize.

The boomers that were once so idyllic and now are complacent enablers confirm my theories. All this begrudged talk of millennials and their fickle sentimentality is just a cover for an aging generation embittered over their lack of contribution to American “greatness.” Their fathers and mothers advocated for the rights of African Americans and women, while they stood idle and fucked, smoked, drank, and embraced nuclear fatalism.

Though I admit I am being unfair, as the greatest generation was duplicitous and rank with hypocrisy, espousing a Judeo-Christian aspect while cavorting in the shadows. When it comes to progress I’m a utilitarian. At least they did something, anything.

I’m finding this all out now, of course. As an author I’m expected to be present and social, create tribes and foster communal growth. But, truth be told, I’m fucking tired. I work 40 hours a week. So my efforts, while lackluster, are genuine enough, just limited by diminished fortitude.

I should come back to my first point on age, for sympathy’s sake. Social and cultural fatigue does afflict me whether I admit it or not. I especially notice this in the kind of music I listen to at the gym. In high school, regular trips to the local record store would yield a bevy of new artists every week. Even though the albums were old, produced in the 80s and 90s, I felt connected to a movement, emboldened by the genres I listened to. Today, I can count on one hand the artists from which I still actively anticipate albums. My workout routine revolves around a heavy dose of thrash metal and Viking metal, and I don’t see it changing for the foreseeable future. With comics, it’s similar. I’ve purchased whatever I can find that is pleasant to read. All my heroes have stopped writing, and new up-and-comers to replace them are limited in supply.

The cynicism however, of old age, of change, or progress, is illusory and seductive. It requires effort to supplant complacency and look for new things. Becoming irrelevant is the thing we all fear most, and we unwittingly accept it because the alternative of keeping in contact with the rallying zeitgeist can often be tiresome and difficult. It is my strong belief that knowledge and scholarship (even if popular) can stem the tide of inefficacy. And so I must hold strong to the mast and resist the siren call of whatever-the-fuck being “old” is.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Shouting Into the Void

When publishing, it's easy to underestimate the extensive legwork required to get people to notice you. It's infuriating, because with 6 billion people on this planet everyone has an audience even if they're a piece of shit.

The last time I marketed my stuff I was at Comic Con back in 2014. I had a thousand cardstock mailers with a download link to my book via a link that I set up on my own. Everything was so touch and go, like having sex for the first time. Of the thousand, I was able to pass out almost 500. (Not bad for a first effort.) There were SDCC volunteers catching on to my schemes toward the end. I had to evade them like a cold war spy in Russia.

One thing they don't tell you is how to deal with rejection. I still remember to this day the feeling of passing out that first card, and someone declining, as if they wanted extra shit to cart around in an ever expanding grab-bag of toys, fliers, comic books, and so on. But still you take it personally. Today I kind of laugh about it, but back then I wanted to shrivel up and die. But to anyone passing out fliers just remember quantity is key. I estimated a 2-3% response rate (looking at the download metrics on Box). Of the 500 or so I passed out I got about 40 unique downloads. (A whopping eight percent!)

Marketing techniques have evolved over time, with Google AdSense and Facebook data mining to the infinitesimal, making advertisement the easiest in decades. The caveat to this is the saturation of ads. Just like Journalism, its easy for good content to get drowned out by every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a blog. (And, yes, the irony is not lost on me.) So you may have noticed two pages appear on my blog: two personal thank you notes to prospective buyers of my two books (one available, the other's sale date TBA).

It feels apropos to do this. Sony never thanked me for buying their bluray players or Apple, their phones. If you click on to these pages, my sentiment is sincere. I know that I can be an anti-social, cynical asshole sometimes. But I care about the people who care about good art. They are the human beings that need to keep breeding. These two projects, and all my future ones are my best effort at contributing to the great body of Western Literature. (Though I'm not above writing pulp drabbles time to time.)

So, like all authors, I begin my journey, my trek into deep space, shouting into the void for alien life. To bridge cultures and opinions with tales on the human condition. I'll need help. I am many things: Husband, Father, Christian, Author, IT Consultant, Avid Reader, Player of Beep-Boops, and Anxiety Medicated Agoraphobic. But I'm not good at being all at once.

It takes a village to publish a book. And I'm thankful to everyone who fights along side me.