Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to do something a bit different – I’m going to directly respond to Christian’s most recent OFF TOPIC episode, wherein he describes one of Gary Vee’s most popular and, what christian described as, kind of awful pieces of advice.
Some of you might well be aware that I’ve been writing with Theo & Harris since about last October, though really, my first ever piece of writing for T&H launched all the way back in 2015, I believe. It was an article in which I defended my Invicta Pro Diver as the most important watch I’ve ever owned because it was the piece that got me into mechanical watches. When I sent the article to Christian, I never expected that it would not only get published, but eventually get picked up by AboutTime Magazine and actually freakin’ printed. Like, in a physical magazine. That people bought.
That article forever changed my life and, by extension, began my relationship with Christian and Anna and Aaron. In effect, it also began my career as a writer. The word that’s the most important in that sentence is “career” because, really, that’s what this is, and that’s what this article is going to deal most directly with.
Guys like GaryVee tend to forget something incredibly important when they talk about building a business, or being an entrepreneur, or being motivated – not every entrepreneur is launching a sales business in the traditional sense. For writers, like myself, our product is our words and, by extension, ourselves. There is nothing directly tangible in the things we sell, and ultimately, we make our living off of selling ideas that will, ideally, become fully fleshed out in a cohesive way. That doesn’t always happen, believe me, but it’s what we do.
Our methods, though, are drastically different in a lot of ways from a more traditional company. Unless we work under a pseudonym, it’s difficult to separate us from the product and we can’t just replace troublesome employees for the sake of preserving the brand – we’re the only employees, and we are the brand. It’s a total solo mission, regardless of the support systems we may have in place, and writing the way we need to in order to self-sustain can be flat out exhausting.
So GaryVee, as Christian mentions, points out that you should keep your eyes closed and focus on the grind until you’re 29. First of all, what an absurdly arbitrary age. But more importantly, what an absolute crock. For writers and other directly creative people, the worst thing you can do is produce content consistently without imagining the bigger picture, without planning for success. To sustain a creative enterprise, you have no choice but to be thinking ten steps ahead of everyone else. You have to be looking at the things other writers have done in the past and are doing currently and cherry pick the most relatable plans of action and then customize them to fit your model. And more than anything else, you have to acknowledge that your creativity is a business, and to be successful, you’ve gotta operate it as one when the pens go down.
There’s a lot of fear in many writers I’ve met along the way when it comes to this concept. To many of them, it dilutes the very act of creating, compromising its purest form and turning it into just another piece of the demographic pie. “If you’re meant to be huge, someone will find you” they’ll say. Bull. F**king. Sh*t. There’s no magical hand anymore to pluck you from obscurity and propel you into superstardom. It was rare before, but now that concept is nearly obsolete. If you don’t have the work ethic and the drive, and the ability to execute whatever plans you’ve got, you’re going to get left behind.
Okay, so that was a lot of ranting without much of a silver lining, but there is one, I promise. That silver lining is this: it isn’t particularly difficult to figure this crap out. No, seriously. It isn’t some secret code or magic “7 steps to success” like you might find a YouTube guru trying to sell you. It’s all about hard work. Stephen King suffered at the hands of so many rejections that at one point, he had so many of them spiked to his wall that the spike eventually gave up and fell out, yet he persisted. JK Rowling is perhaps the most famous, being told that she would never amount to a career in “children’s books” and, well, we all know how that ended.
These two examples are literally drops in a bucket full of famous writers and creative people who stuck up their middle fingers to the odds and kept working to get the job done. In many ways, though, they do fit what Gary says about keeping your head down until you’re 29, and there’s one specific reason for this – the industry changes faster than any other in the game.
The best way to gage where the literary industry, specifically, is at at any given point is to look at the types of books agents are looking to represent. That snapshot of genre is a perfect example of what they believe they can sell to publishers and, in turn, make money on. Every year, the Writer’s Market publishes a book detailing the various literary agents in the game and what they’re looking for in new submissions. Start here, but don’t end here, because while an agent may begin 2018 looking for Christian Chick Lit, pretty soon they may be looking for dark and gory horror novels. The best way to keep track of an agent’s specific list is to find them on the agency website, because that is updated far more regularly than an annual guide.
And if your book doesn’t fit their criteria, don’t have a panic attack, because now more than ever, self publishing is not only a viable option, but a potentially ultra-profitable one. Sites like Amazon, with their Kindle Direct Publishing service, are the most common and potentially most beneficial way to get your work seen. But to experience success here, you have to understand their system of ranking, and you have to be willing to market your rear end off. As you may have guessed, doing this effectively means you have to really dive in deep and understand the kind of success you’re looking to have. To do that right, and to really get the ball rolling, you’ve gotta do the exact opposite of what GaryVee is talking about. So pull your heads out of the sand, look to the future, and remember – Keep. F**king. Moving.
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