This article, by Israel Vasquetelle, originally appeared on Insomniac Magazine on 9/19/10 and features M. Louisa Locke, one of our own Publetariat contributors.
Too many times, artists of all genres look only to their own immediate world for both creative and business inspiration. The problem is that those same ideas are recycled over and over again by many within that space. I remember when 50 Cent (and obviously artists before him) approached mixtapes as the ultimate way to saturate the market – one locality at a time. That was a phenomenal way for 50 and other artists to break in and make substantial names for themselves. The problem today is that nearly every rapper on the planet now has a mixtape.
Sure, this form of promotion and distribution can still prove to be a means to reach an audience, however, for the most part it’s noise. Today, mixtapes are a dime a dozen. Sometimes taking a step out of your immediate world, what every that may be, and looking at other forms of media can provide the most valuable insight. This is one of the reasons that for years I have continued to cover a variety artists and industry professionals’ stories of success within Insomniac. This has been done in hopes that their experiences will motivate others to find their own path to whatever they’re striving to achieve.
M. Louisa Locke recently published her first novel, a Victorian era mystery, and has managed to reach an audience despite not benefiting from the resources of a traditional book publisher. She’s not a household name, at least not yet, however, in the era of new media and the technology that makes it these channels possible, it’s not necessary to have a huge audience to find success.
Locke is part of a growing contingency of authors that have chosen to bypass the lottery-like odds that require the need to gain the limited attention of traditional publishers. Instead of chasing a middleman, she reaches a potential audience by utilizing the democratizing services of digital distributors and print on demand services that helped her to make her title a reality.
Artists seeking to get signed by labels should take a page out of this author’s playbook. With a little entrepreneurial spirit and the use of today’s technology, artists can reach their audience and maintain control of that connection. Until, this is something that was nearly impossible to achieve without a significant resources in the form of capital and a barrage of middlemen.Today, it takes talent, hard work and a bit of marketing savviness.
Traditionally, authors with aspirations of making it alongside bestsellers on bookshelves would need to convince gatekeepers of their potential to sell huge quantities. Obviously, only a tiny percentage of those considered ever garner a book deal. Once getting through that level of immense scrutiny, typically, for a new author, that means a small advance and a ticket on a waiting list that could last many months or years. Furthermore, for better or worse, the author’s words are subject to a barrage of changes and revisions by editors. If, and when the book finally hits the market, it will only receive the promotional resources of its publisher for a very short window of time.