How should writers and other artists reach their audiences on the web? There are no written rules, but it’s clear that being a “content creator” (comic book writer, painter, illustrator or journalist), requires as much knowledge of marketing as it does of their own particular discipline.
Clearly the web is a great space to discover new talent. Our favorite singer Justing Bieber started his career on Youtube. Andy Weir, author of The Martian, first published his book in his blog for free (in serial format one chapter at a time). It seems like everyday new teenage idols are created right out of Instagram and Vine (Nash Grier, KingBach, Brittany Furlan, Cameron Dallas, etc). Comic book artists can thrive exclusively online (the Oatmeal, xkcd, etc.) The list goes on and on.
All of the examples above have a few things in common: their content is freely available online (where it’s easy to be copied and re-shared) and the outreach to their audiences was self-initiated and did not depend on a manger or publishing company.
As with anything new, I’m not saying sharing on social networks will be the end of traditional talent agents (although it might). What I’m saying is that online creation and self-promotion is a growing trend that’s extremely effective. And think about this: the web is the medium that is reaching the younger demographic. With 100% certainty, this is how young people discover content today and will discover content tomorrow.
“in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.”
— Show Your Work! By Austin Kleon
Testing the waters
Last year my partner in crime Ron published “Narrative Madness” on Gumroad and Amazon. This year he has published several short-stories on his blog ronosaurusrex.com. I’ve been writing short stories as well for a little while now, and so, in the back of my head, I keep thinking about the best way to share all this content.
I decided on starting small, so I though on the smallest possible story and came up with #10astronatus. I decided to publish it online, free, on a medium that I was already familiar with and that had no connection whatsoever to fiction writing and storytelling. #10astronauts is a short story broken in small chucks meant to be published and consumed in Instagram.
I chose Instagram because it’s a medium that can be shaped to be conductive to storytelling. The engagement is short but focused. It is also very distraction free. Somebody scrolling through their Instagram feed will always see your content (whether or not they decide to pause or engage is a different matter). Instagram is mostly visual, and so I decided to support the story visually somehow and I added illustrations.
I wrote the story in one afternoon (and edited it for the next 3 weeks), then I illustrated it with Charley over the next 3 weeks as the editing took place. The title of the story is a hashtag, so that it can serve as the means to find it online.