The Rising Tide (#risingtide)

Today, we’re going to talk about the rising tide hashtag.

I think, to a certain extent, it’s self-explanatory, but I also believe it’s much deeper than its surface connotations. I believe, if enough of us get on board, we can change things. Hopefully if you’re reading this, you’ve seen the Facebook and Twitter engagements I’ve done with it, and you’re curious. I hope you’re curious; I want you to be curious. Truthfully, I want more than your curiosity. I want your anger, your fervor, your engagement. I can’t express how much I want those things and how much the independent market needs it.

Ready?

Okay.

The weekend of September 27th, I attended the Context convention in Columbus, Ohio. During one of the few panels I listened in on, an author named John Hornor Jacobs attributed the following quote to Chuck Wendig: “A rising tide lifts all ships.” Wendig didn’t come up with that gem on his own, as I first heard it in an economics class many years ago in college. But the principle is sound and its application to the independent press market is twice as important.

You see, we, authors and small, indie publishers, are in the unique position of being both the tide and the ship. Most (most, mind you, not all) small press owners/publishers are also authors, and any self-published authors are obviously publishers as well. But more than that, we all have one thing in common, which is a distinct lack of backing from one of the “Big [insert remaining number here]” publishers. That brings with it a certain sense of community and while both big, traditional publishing and small traditional/self-published authors are both responsible for a good portion of their own marketing, those of us on the small side of the fence certainly have to do more. It’s expected and, if you don’t, quite detrimental. I think we all know most publishing houses check an author’s social media presence. Shitty? Yeah. Sad? Sure, but true. That begs the question why aren’t we helping each other more?

Lack of time? I don’t think so.

Lack of compassion? Maybe.

Lack of desire? Most likely.

And that’s the desire to help a fellow author, mind you. I’m not sure how many times I’ve retweeted or shared this or that for people (I have certain people I do this for, though that number has dwindled) and never got any sort of quid pro quo. It used to piss me off (and, really, it still does), but I realize now that there’s nothing really there for anyone to invest in. Someone may retweet me today, but not again for three weeks, or a month, or ever.

This is what we have to change.

An author friend, Violet Patterson, and I, have started the ground work for an author co-op here in central Ohio, where we share the costs of booth space, time, transportation, and the other miscellany involved in attending a local event. So, even if I can’t make it, my work is represented by whoever is there. And if I can make it while another co-op member can’t, then I’m going to be doing my best to sell their work to people who want to read it.

We’re artists working together to elevate each other to the next level. This is a group of people I’m proud to throw my hat in with, a talented sect of writers who can only make me that much better, not only at my craft, but at being a decent human being.

That, my friends, is the definition of a rising tide lifting all ships.

And it’s what we need to do for each other online. Form a social media co-op with a couple close friends or with people whose work you’re passionate about, then form another with different people, and always be there to share, retweet, and promote what the people in your co-op are sharing, retweeting, and promoting. Exposure starts growing exponentially at that point. While I understand exposure doesn’t always lead to sales, it’s never going to hurt sales. If you’re sitting at 0 and no one buys anything, you’re still at 0. It’s a win/win situation, so long as everything isn’t a “BUY MY BOOK” post. We can’t forget the general rules of social media etiquette. We need to engage with a broader audience, not drown them in bullshit sales pitches. I’m currently interviewing authors, cake sculptors, a musician or two, artists, and even web designers. Anything to help promote creative people, so if you want in on that, drop me a note. We can do this.

Why?

Because we’re not in a zero sum game.

We’re not playing Shirts vs Skins or Blue Pinny vs Red Pinny. This isn’t grade school, gym class, the back of the bus, or the local swimming hole. This is the publishing ocean we’re swimming in, ladies and gentlemen, and it is our future.

We’re not going to change it overnight, or in a week, or possibly in a year. But two, three, even five? If there’s a ceiling here, it’s made of glass, and we can bust through it. Join me, use the hashtag #risingtide, and share this blog post, retweet the fuck out of it.

Bring your friends, and let’s lift our boats high.

A Confab with author Nelson W. Pyles

nelsonauthorNelson W. Pyles is a creative jack-of-all-trades. He’s a writer, podcaster, and a musician all rolled up into over six feet of a badass nice guy. There’s a rumor he’s even recording a couple of audiobooks now. This makes sense to me because I’ve heard Nelson’s Christopher Walken impression. If you haven’t heard it, listen to the 9th Story podcast. You’ll hire him, too.

Nelson’s debut novel, “Demons, Dolls, and Milkshakes,” came out late last year and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing horror/comedy at its best. His band, X-Proph3t, continues to make music, and of course his podcast, The Wicked Library has been making all kinds of noise since its first episode, featuring such horror luminaries as Joe Lansdale and Daniel Knauf.

Nelson was gracious enough to take time out of his insanely busy schedule to answer a few questions I had about all his work, and what he thinks the missing Stitch doll is doing today.


Chris: Like most of us, you have a job and a family, so inquiring minds want to know where you find the time to write, read submissions and record a podcast, and then go play kick ass music? (I won’t mention the audiobooks…)

Nelson W. Pyles: I wake up insanely early every day!  I try to get as much done as possible in the short amount of time I have where I don’t have to be husband and daddy. It’s hard to do, but it is doable. Not ideal, but it works.  I’m lucky in that I have the support of my wife and kids. They are amazing and I couldn’t be luckier. The music is actually the easiest component. I write the words and sing, record and I’m done. It’s the lowest amount of work, and more satisfying than it ever was when I was gigging all the time. That sucked.  This is better and less difficult to juggle.

Chris: Let’s talk Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes just for a second. I know you’re a naturally snarky bastard, and so I am, but every time I try horror/comedy, it seems flat. Why horror/comedy? Was that planned or did it just come out as you were writing?

ddmcover

Cover art by Maddie von Stark

Nelson W. Pyles: It really came out as I was writing it. There is a certain point in writing where your characters kind of take over your story; they have their own stories to tell and they tend to supersede whatever plans you may have had for them. That, for me, is a good thing. The characters in DD&M really came to life in a way I didn’t expect and I’m so happy it turned out to be such a fun book to write and apparently read as well.

Chris: This is the stuff of legends. You made a Stitch doll out of a football, sent it to Maddie (the cover artist for the book). She did her art thing, and sent him back. En route, he went missing, and he’s never come back. Conceivably, there’s a pissed off, six inch demon running around the Midwest wreaking havoc. Care to comment?

Nelson W. Pyles: In all honesty, I like to imagine that someone got him and freaked out in a very big way!  If the book ever becomes a huge hit or a movie, I hope that person realizes what they have…if they didn’t throw the ugly little bastard away!

nelsonstitch

Everyone, meet Stitch. Stitch, the internetz.

Chris; Everyone talks about the literary influences that got them started, and I’m sure you have yours, but I’m more interested in your non-literary influences today. Who, and what, keeps you writing now?

Nelson W. Pyles: This may sound cliché, but my wife and daughters. When I was growing up, I didn’t have any support from my family for anything I did creatively. My biggest support didn’t happen until I met my wife in all honesty. I write for her and the girls. If someone supports something you love, you should keep doing it. No one had ever put that much faith in me.

Chris: X-Proph3t. That’s some badass music. When’s the tour? Or at least a live show people can come see.

xprophet

Nelson W. Pyles: Sadly, the band was never designed to play live. That was actually a stipulation when I agreed to sing and write with Chuck and Tony. XP is unofficially on hiatus. Tony pulled me in for a project called Novus. We just finished recording the album, and it’s a lot different that XP. More progressive, less aggressive.

Chris: Keeping in the vein of music, do you play an instrument or are just “the singer?” That sounds bad, but it’s not. I can sing (we all can), I just can’t do it well. I can’t play drums, either, so there’s that, too. Or the guitar. I can’t even write lyrics. Damn. Okay, so…

Nelson W. Pyles: Ha! I do play guitar, but in all honesty, I barely play well enough to pass an audition to get into my own band! I write the words to the music I’m presented. The Novus project was a really different experience; it turned into a therapy session I was having with myself. Tony would read the words and ask if I was alright…

Chris: Talk to me about The Wicked Library. You’ve rolled out Season Five twlcoverrecently. I think it’s a great thing you’re doing, balancing new and upcoming writers with some genre favorites. How long do you see the podcast running? I imagine the stories will always be there if you ask for them. As long as the listeners keep coming back? Or do you have a finite time period in mind?

Nelson W. Pyles; I really don’t know how long it’ll be around. Probably until it ceases to be fun-and for all the work that goes into it, it’s still a lot of fun for me and Maddie to do.

Chris: Last question. Writing, music, or podcasting. If you have to pick one, which would it be? Why?

Nelson W. Pyles: I’d have to say writing. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be and I can be that anywhere I am.  Podcasting and music I take very seriously, but for me it’s always just been about being a writer. I wanted to be in KISS when I was in second grade, but I wanted to write when I was in kindergarten. I look at KISS now and think how lonely that life must be. Writing I get to play God. I get to be the truest version of me that I am. That’s pretty hard to beat!


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To find all of Nelson’s writing, click the link for his Amazon Author Page.
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