Author Topic: Looking for some encouragement...Update!  (Read 8956 times)  

Offline BellaJames

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Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy. I find there to be genuine value in what I do. I don't need to fill my ego with delusions that I'm doing anything more than that. My fantasy novels are not deep or insightful. There is no lesson to be learned. They're exciting and a thrill for the reader (at least that's the goal). I'll leave the art to the literary fiction writers. They care more about being clever than I do.

This


IMO, artist vs. entertainer is a false dichotomy. We can do all the things art is supposed to while entertaining people. We can make them think, make them feel, touch their lives, etc. Maybe I'm pretentious, but once I start my book, it's not about me or about art or about entertaining. It's about the characters. They're the ones in charge.

Screenwriter, director, author, songwriters - they are all entertainers, artists, creative people. I think authors seem to seperate themselves too much from other forms of the entertainment industry and so they make their work more precious, more valuable. Maybe that's why authors get blocked from creating more than any other entertainer/creative person.

Screenwriters, directors, songwriters and singers make people think and feel too. A song can change the way you look at the world or make you feel happier. There are songs that make people weep. Maybe the song reminds you of a person or a period in your life.

I agree with everything This way down said. Most of the mega bestselling fiction books over the last few years, have not changed the world. They are not teaching anything. The one thing most of the mega bestsellers have in common is that they entertain a lot of people.

Books, films, tv shows, an album of great songs can give people some escape from the problems in their lives, give them a break from the constant grind of life (work, bills, debt, cook, clean etc.....)

I don't see it as:

Authors in this corner
Everyother entertainer/creative person in another corner
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 07:11:44 AM by BellaJames »

Online WriterSongwriter

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Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art?
This! Books should not just nourish the brains, but also lubricate them, keep them working. Without some entertainment once in a while the brain goes crazy.

Offline Nic

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Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy.

You juxtapose art and entertainment as if art didn't entertain, on a level. Art of course also entertains those who seek it out. People aren't into art as if swallowing some bitter medicine for the sake of a healthy brain or whatever other cause, just to get it over with and have an elightened moment. I can assure you that visiting exhibitions of Picasso, Dali or Beuys, or listening to a violin concerto by Brahms, or reading books by Svetlana Alexievich or John Banville is enlightening, entertaining and transcending on many levels, many of which are considerably higher and more demanding than just a guffaw, a frisson or "teh feelz". They aim to be much more than that, they commonly are not aimed to make the most money out of the least invested time.

Usually the reason why art is seen as more important is that it tries to achieve things on much higher levels than momentary entertainment. Art involves more than just the artist themselves, and at the highest level speaks to and is being spoken to by our species and souls. Money is secondary or even of no issue entirely. Also, of course, one other reason why artists engage in art actually is the long run. Few of the romances or thrillers currently churned out will be read in 500 years (or often even in 5 months), but I'd wager you quite a bit that not just Shakespeare and Plato will be read then, but very likely also Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and probably also abovementioned Svetlana Alexievich and John Banville.

My guess is that it is this which rankles when comparing one's genre work written for fast food-style consumption with those who aim to create art. Most forget however that a lot of art is breadless or nearly breadless. I doubt a lot of artists earned in their lifetime as comparatively much as Annie Jocoby earned in just 3-4 years.


Offline Annie B

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Shakespeare was the fun, silly entertainment of his day. I don't get what the point of this argument it? Many things we read from 100 or 200 years ago and are considered "classics" are things the author wrote to feed their family while entertaining the so-called masses.

You can do art that helps people and changes lives and get paid for it. Being paid for your art doesn't make it somehow less. I wish that idea would die in a fire. Art has value, and artists (including writers) should be paid fairly for it.  Shakespeare got paid for his work. He was just a guy like the rest of us, making dirty jokes to please the penny seats and make his rent.

Truth is, nobody knows who will be read in 100 years. We can try to predict, but we'll probably get it wrong. It won't matter anyway, since we'll be dead. Worry about the now, about making people happy with your work now. Bust your butt, make great art, and make sure you get paid for it. You know, like Shakespeare did. Or Dickens. Or Austen. Or Atwood. Or King. etc
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 12:51:31 AM by Annie B »

Offline Nic

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You can do art that helps people and changes lives and get paid for it. Being paid for your art doesn't make it somehow less. I wish that idea would die in a fire. Art has value, and artists (including writers) should be paid fairly for it.

I didn't say that you can't get paid for it or shouldn't be paid. I said that a lot of art isn't being paid and the artists created it anyway. Shakespeare needed and had a patron, the Earl of Southampton, and earned his main income not as a writer. He earned it by acting and owning a share of the theatre company.

Art is rarely intrinsically commercial, whereas commercial entertainment is exactly that. It doesn't matter how much you dislike that fact, it won't change just because you would like it to change. Ask around how much lit fic writers or poets, even the ones who win prizes, get paid on average. Try this with experimental musicians and avantgarde artists. There's a reason why mass market goods cater to mass market taste, which rarely ever is the same as art, a few outliers notwithstanding. The stress is on "few" here.

I find it amusing at this point how much on one hand it is argued, that all that indies do is maintaining a business, and how much writing ought to be treated as a business, and then, when it is being pointed out that commercialism and art rarely go hand in hand, people bite back in fury to claim art as well. Probably out of a feeling of inferiority, instead of simply accepting that these are two distinct things in the majority of cases.

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I would say that most art starts as entertainment, whether for the market of for the individuals creating it.

I think what separates "art" from the other writing/painting/whatever created in the same period is that it resonates with people in a later time period.

Some artist starve because it either didn't resonate with their contemporaries, or it was lost in the mass of work produced and did not gain any visibility. Maybe they didn't want or need an audience.

Shakespeare wrote plays to entertain, to feed the masses who came to the globe, the groundlings and the unwashed that came to see the plays and didn't sit in theatres drinking in the words in reverent silence. From all accounts they threw things at the actors, jeered at the villains, made bawdy comments about the lovers and were thoroughly entertained.

Van Gogh could hardly give away his work.

I think art is created by the context and narrative that later consumers give it. It often seems to be the story around the art that raises it above work created by others at the same time. Who was Shakespeare really? A man? A woman? Several people? We are aware of the torment and passion put into many works of art and that adds another dimension to the paint on the canvas and the words on the page.

Many artists (and people not regarded as artists) deal with themes that really resonate with us - love, death, and the journey we are on through life.

For me the artist thing is just a label (or sales pitch) that other people put on someone that creates. What people regard as art often says more about them and their worldview than the artist.

Back to Annie though - I think you should write what gives you joy, with one eye on what people are buying, and make sure you tweak it so that it hits the right tropes for that audience.

If you love what you are writing the words will flow and you will transmit some of that joy and excitement to your readers. Entertain their brains out.

Sending you a lot of positive thoughts - you can turn this around and have fun while you do it.


Offline Annie B

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Publishing is a business. Writing is an art and a craft.  I don't see how that's difficult to understand? As indies, we have to do both. Business AND art.

I always choose "and" instead of "or" when I can in life (well, when choosing among positive things, ha). So far, so good ;)

Offline Nic

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Publishing is a business. Writing is an art and a craft.  I don't see how that's difficult to understand? As indies, we have to do both. Business AND art.

I always choose "and" instead of "or" when I can in life (well, when choosing among positive things, ha). So far, so good ;)

Art and craft are, again mostly, not always, different things. Which plays into the exact discussion of art vs commercial entertainment.

I'd say that the majority of indie authors here, myself included, as I write mainly genre fiction, are well-versed in the craft of writing and plotting, and have pinpointed the kind of tales gobbled up by the mass market. A lot of us have also pinned down the business side of things. Both together means commercial success at some level. Most, not all, aim mainly at selling as much as they can possibly sell for personal gain, which is part of Annie's problem. She needs to sell to earn her income.

That is all fine by me. You seem to think I don't think it is. I just believe it has little to do with art and being an artist. I could pull up at least a hundred posts here in cross-reference, which contain a variety of middle and big players coming down on those who ask "but the art?" with how irrelevant that question is, and that pushing out as much and as fast as possible trumps art any which way.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. You could of course submit "Seals in the Werebear Cave" or "Space Marines Against The Centaurians" to the Nobel prize committee. The day they dish out a Nobel Prize in Literature or a Man Booker prize to one of these I'll eat my words. Who knows? It might happen.

Offline NeedWant

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You can't have your cake and eat it too. You could of course submit "Seals in the Werebear Cave" or "Space Marines Against The Centaurians" to the Nobel prize committee. The day they dish out a Nobel Prize in Literature or a Man Booker prize to one of these I'll eat my words. Who knows? It might happen.

So something is only art in your eyes if it wins some big literary prize? And if the author doesn't do it for the money? Really? Is this a joke?  ???

Online Sarah Shaw

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Publishing is a business. Writing is an art and a craft.  I don't see how that's difficult to understand? As indies, we have to do both. Business AND art.

I always choose "and" instead of "or" when I can in life (well, when choosing among positive things, ha). So far, so good ;)

I pretty much agree with this, except that I think writing can be art and craft, only art or only craft- or any shade between. And there are markets for every shade. Personally, I don't like to read the 'craft only' type writing, but I'm considerably outnumbered, so anyone who prefers that should go for it.

As for what eventually gets recognized as 'great art' - that depends on all kinds of future things that none of us can possibly know anything about. Emotions are universal and timeless, but what evokes them is very context and culturally dependent. The same with craft- people's tastes change all the time. Bottom line, whatever you write and whatever your reasons, be prepared for change. That's the only thing we can safely predict WILL happen.

And that brings me around to the OP... Thanks very much for this, Annie Jocoby. I'm hearing very similar stories from offline friends but very few have the courage to put their experience out there- and I think this perspective is very much needed.

I don't read contemporary romance, but I just bought your new thriller. Looking forward to reading it!

Online Jennifer Lewis

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Annie, I just found this thread so I'm going to skip right over the art/craft debate and congratulate you on your persistence! I think the legal thriller sounds like a great idea and it sounds like you're off to a fabulous start.

I honestly think the biggest struggle for us writers is the pressure to keep writing the same type of thing over and over again. I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen a writer have a big hit with one type of series and then they cannot bring themselves to write more in that vein so they write something different (even a little different) and it bombs. It's a very rare author who doesn't succumb to this. Our creativity and versatility is a dangerous thing ;)

So I hope your legal thrillers have huge success and that you can resist the sneaking thoughts that will come into your head in about eighteen months that say, "Hmmm, it would be cool if I could make the DA into a dragon shifter...." or whatever your version of that would be, lol.

Onward and upward! This publishing game is not for the feint of heart.
Romance after 40!                        FREE RIGHT NOW!                                               BOXED SETS                                                     MANGA!
      

Offline This_Way_Down

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You juxtapose art and entertainment as if art didn't entertain, on a level. Art of course also entertains those who seek it out. People aren't into art as if swallowing some bitter medicine for the sake of a healthy brain or whatever other cause, just to get it over with and have an elightened moment. I can assure you that visiting exhibitions of Picasso, Dali or Beuys, or listening to a violin concerto by Brahms, or reading books by Svetlana Alexievich or John Banville is enlightening, entertaining and transcending on many levels, many of which are considerably higher and more demanding than just a guffaw, a frisson or "teh feelz". They aim to be much more than that, they commonly are not aimed to make the most money out of the least invested time.

Usually the reason why art is seen as more important is that it tries to achieve things on much higher levels than momentary entertainment. Art involves more than just the artist themselves, and at the highest level speaks to and is being spoken to by our species and souls. Money is secondary or even of no issue entirely. Also, of course, one other reason why artists engage in art actually is the long run. Few of the romances or thrillers currently churned out will be read in 500 years (or often even in 5 months), but I'd wager you quite a bit that not just Shakespeare and Plato will be read then, but very likely also Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and probably also abovementioned Svetlana Alexievich and John Banville.

My guess is that it is this which rankles when comparing one's genre work written for fast food-style consumption with those who aim to create art. Most forget however that a lot of art is breadless or nearly breadless. I doubt a lot of artists earned in their lifetime as comparatively much as Annie Jocoby earned in just 3-4 years.
I'm not saying entertainment can't be artful. Or that art can't be entertaining. But the fact remains genre fiction is primarily entertainment. What I object to on a personal level is when it's viewed with contempt. People need entertainment. It's every bit a important as art - maybe more so. A fun story, a catchy song, a cool movie, or even a funny meme, provides a greater accumulative impact on the lives of people than what is thought of commonly as art. Is it literature for the masses? You bet it is. And I love the masses.

Offline anniejocoby

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Annie, I just found this thread so I'm going to skip right over the art/craft debate and congratulate you on your persistence! I think the legal thriller sounds like a great idea and it sounds like you're off to a fabulous start.

I honestly think the biggest struggle for us writers is the pressure to keep writing the same type of thing over and over again. I've lost count of the amount of times I've seen a writer have a big hit with one type of series and then they cannot bring themselves to write more in that vein so they write something different (even a little different) and it bombs. It's a very rare author who doesn't succumb to this. Our creativity and versatility is a dangerous thing ;)

So I hope your legal thrillers have huge success and that you can resist the sneaking thoughts that will come into your head in about eighteen months that say, "Hmmm, it would be cool if I could make the DA into a dragon shifter...." or whatever your version of that would be, lol.

Onward and upward! This publishing game is not for the feint of heart.

Thanks for the kind words, Jennifer!

Two dollars! Two dollars! I want my two dollars!!!
Annie Jocoby website

Offline anniejocoby

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ANNIE!
I met you at the HM Ward event in Oxnard a couple years back, when apparently both of us were doing much better! I had purple hair back then lol. Anyway, I have been focused mainly on billionaire romance for the past three years, but I am going to start a new pen name (my FOURTH! lol) and try and write some conspiracy thrillers. Something's gotta give with these sales numbers.
Wishing you every bit of luck in the world, and use those Uber stories as inspiration!! Praying that we can both get back to our happy sales places soon.

Sounds like you and I are in the same place - going from romance to thrillers! I remember you at that meeting - gosh, that seems like eons ago! Even then, I was freaking out about my sales, waiting for them to crash at any point. Well, the worst has happened, and I literally have no place to go but up. PM me and give me your email address - since we're doing the same thing, maybe we can help each other along!

Two dollars! Two dollars! I want my two dollars!!!
Annie Jocoby website

Offline anniejocoby

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Since getting out of romance was the best thing I did for my career, I'm of course cheering you on for your move into thrillers, but if you really love romance, you should stay.

But if you branch out, you'll find that you don't miss the churn, or the fact that your covers are no longer on trend after two weeks, or the pressure to have 100+ reviews on release day, etc.

My advice for the thriller market would be to carefully study what's selling now and do your best to emulate that style. And to definitely not keeping writing FIVE books if the first one doesn't do anything. If it were me, and the first one tanked, I'd have an exit strategy for book two and then start something new right after. I would definitely not continue a low-selling series past book three, but that is just me. Still, I doubt you'll have to worry. You'll probably blow it out of the water with your first try.

You are awesome, and you got this!

Thanks Valerie! You've always been an inspiration to me, more than you know! I love that you're experiencing such success with your new UF - it sounds like you've found your niche! Hope I can have the same success when I change genres. Keeping my fingers crossed. :)

Two dollars! Two dollars! I want my two dollars!!!
Annie Jocoby website

Offline Crystal_

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Why is "art" so much more important that entertainment? It's not likely a crime novel is going to change the world, or a readers perceptions. A romance novel isn't about a helping the reader along on a journey of self discovery. It's there to provide some joy; a bit of fun. Why is that less important than art? As an entertainer, I make people happy. I find there to be genuine value in what I do. I don't need to fill my ego with delusions that I'm doing anything more than that. My fantasy novels are not deep or insightful. There is no lesson to be learned. They're exciting and a thrill for the reader (at least that's the goal). I'll leave the art to the literary fiction writers. They care more about being clever than I do.

That isn't relevant to my point. Art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive, but they aren't required of each other either. You can write artless entertainment or artful entertainment or entertaining art. I find artless entertainment empty and boring as a reader and a writer, so I don't write it. (And I'm a former screenwriter and a person who dissects lyrics obsessively, so I don't see why we should impugne other creative fields as not being art).

Many readers do enjoy artless books. I won't name authors, but I'm sure we can all think of popular authors who aren't artful. IMO, my books do most of the things art does and they also entertain and do well financially. Making your entertainment artful makes it better, not worse.

But this is Annie's thread, so I'm going to drop the art debate. At the end of the day, you will be happier and more productive writing books that click with you. It's not wrong to write books that cine more easily. For me that's my idea of artful romance.

Offline PamelaKelley

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Annie, I sent you a PM about your thrillers.  :)

Offline SummerNights

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That isn't relevant to my point. Art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive, but they aren't required of each other either. You can write artless entertainment or artful entertainment or entertaining art. I find artless entertainment empty and boring as a reader and a writer, so I don't write it. (And I'm a former screenwriter and a person who dissects lyrics obsessively, so I don't see why we should impugne other creative fields as not being art).

Many readers do enjoy artless books. I won't name authors, but I'm sure we can all think of popular authors who aren't artful. IMO, my books do most of the things art does and they also entertain and do well financially. Making your entertainment artful makes it better, not worse.

But this is Annie's thread, so I'm going to drop the art debate. At the end of the day, you will be happier and more productive writing books that click with you. It's not wrong to write books that cine more easily. For me that's my idea of artful romance.

Same here. I can't be entertained by a story that lacks depth or nuance. However, I have found that many people can.

Online WriterSongwriter

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@OP, so what you decided? What's the plan? Have you started writing already?

Offline anniejocoby

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@OP, so what you decided? What's the plan? Have you started writing already?

I've decided to concentrate on the legal thrillers for now. I committed myself by putting Book Two up for a pre-order, publication date April 8, so there's no turning back now! I'm not sure if that's the right decision - it seems like every decision I make is the wrong one. We'll just have to see! I'm shelving NA romance for now. I do plan on writing ten books this year, but it might be 10 legal thrillers. Writing those comes natural to me. :) Thanks for checking in!

Two dollars! Two dollars! I want my two dollars!!!
Annie Jocoby website

Offline Lynn is a pseud--uh, never mind

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I've decided to concentrate on the legal thrillers for now. I committed myself by putting Book Two up for a pre-order, publication date April 8, so there's no turning back now! I'm not sure if that's the right decision - it seems like every decision I make is the wrong one. We'll just have to see! I'm shelving NA romance for now. I do plan on writing ten books this year, but it might be 10 legal thrillers. Writing those comes natural to me. :) Thanks for checking in!
I like your plan. One suggestion. On Amazon and elsewhere, change your author profile to fit better with the legal thrillers. It's an unfortunate fact that there are a lot of people out there who think writing romance is a lesser art and you'll do yourself a favor by emphasizing your legal background instead of your romance writing chops. :)

Offline anniejocoby

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I like your plan. One suggestion. On Amazon and elsewhere, change your author profile to fit better with the legal thrillers. It's an unfortunate fact that there are a lot of people out there who think writing romance is a lesser art and you'll do yourself a favor by emphasizing your legal background instead of your romance writing chops. :)

Got it! Doing that right now. Thanks for the heads-up!!!!! :)

Two dollars! Two dollars! I want my two dollars!!!
Annie Jocoby website

Offline Sylvia R. Frost

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Hey, Annie,

Sorry to hear the last few books haven't landed the way you want. I agree romance is a pretty crowded space right now and things are only getting harder and harder. One thing I might recommend is finding a great editor you like and working on the craft side of things. This isn't to say you've got weak points there, but I know for me that often when things aren't landing with readers sometimes it can be because my story-telling isn't as strong as I want it to be. It doesn't have to be an all the time thing, but working with a great editor at least once can be transformative IMHO. Forgive me if I'm wrong and you've already got a great editor, but the last I remembered you were only self-editing. This isn't to say that an editor will fix everything, but it can always be a good way you shake up the process! :-)

Thanks,
S

Offline CarolynVMurray

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Now that you've made the decision to pursue the legal thrillers rather than romance, you might want to rethink KU, for a few reasons. First, John Elllsworth's books are in KU. If he's willing to give you a shout-out, he's going to doing so to a mailing list that might be 50% (or more) KU readers. Secondly, you had said that you would feel badly if you weren't wide and your fans couldn't read your books. No longer relevant. You're starting from scratch in a new genre, and the romance readers who bought your first few series are not your audience now.

I won't speak from my own experience - I'll use someone much more knowledgeable - Chris Fox. I've read The Six Figure Author and he would say that you absolutely do not want romance authors buying your thriller books. Amazon's brain is trying to compile a profile of your reader, and if it's a consistent profile - they will help to sell your books. You don't want anything in your Also-Boughts that's not a thriller. (For that reason, he probably also would have recommended a thriller pen name.)

Planning for a quick second release is an excellent  idea.
Carolyn V. Murray | Website

Offline daveconifer

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Many readers do enjoy artless books. I won't name authors, but I'm sure we can all think of popular authors who aren't artful. IMO, my books do most of the things art does and they also entertain and do well financially. Making your entertainment artful makes it better, not worse.
 

Can you name authors, at least in a PM to me?  I usually ignore debates like this, because they're cliched and different people use cliches to mean different things.  But you aren't doing that, so I'm curious to see what authors you consider "artless" ? 

As an aside, I'm pretty certain that if any author is "artless," I am...