I find it very hard to articulate my thoughts on this subject. I don’t think I can cover the full range of the issue in one post, but I’ll take a first stab at it. Maybe people’s comments will give me more insight and I can write a part 2.
Last week a TV report and an article prompted me to write this blog post.
The TV report was a PBS Frontline report on the development of Internet celebrity called “Generation Like”. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/
The report covers the growth in internet celebrity; mainly focussed on young people. Internet celebrity can be very lucrative. What bothers me is the ways in which they have become successful.
I am very uncomfortable with promoting myself and my movies. I have been tempted to use techniques like misleading and sensationalized titles, stunts and outrageous behaviour, and various Search Engine Optimization tricks, and have even tried some of them a few times. Afterwards I always felt bad about what I had done, and so I now avoid anything that strikes me as pandering.
I am also unconvinced that these techniques will work for me. The kind of people who would find my work of interest are unlikely to be drawn in by tricks.
I have tried to build up followers on sites like Twitter. While it is fairly easy to gain followers, even if you don’t pay for them, it is much more difficult to gain followers who really support you. I have 1,558 followers on Twitter, but I doubt that more than a few dozen ever bother to read my tweets.
No one cares about your novel
The article was a Salon articled called “No one cares about your novel: So writers, don’t be boring!” http://www.salon.com/2014/03/12/no_one_cares_about_your_novel_so_writers_dont_be_boring/
This article looks at the difficulty writers have in gaining readers. An important issue is the need for writers to make money from their writing in order to be able to continue their writing career.
Again, there are many many writers who struggle for attention, but I get a sense that the goals are not the same as with the Internet celebrities. Writers seek attention so people will read their books and seriously consider what they have to say. With the Internet celebrity culture it seems that they want attention for the sake of attention.
When I read this article I was reminded of something I read about Alfred Hitchcock. He wanted his films to be successful as art, but he also felt that in order for them to be successful art, they needed to be successful commercially.
I believe that in order to be a successful creator you need to enjoy the activity of creation. But, unless other people appreciate your creation, the job isn’t done yet.
I’ve always thought that if what you create is good, then people will watch it. But, even if you do create something good, it is still hard to get people to pay attention to you. You can’t be successful without supporters. A few dozen supporters who really believe in your work are far more valuable than a few thousand who don’t bother to read your tweets.
I thin it is important to promote your work, but you must also continue to work to improve the quality of your work. With the technology available now it is much easier to make and distribute a film, but it is still just as hard to make a good film.