Dreams Are Not Enough

dreamingSeth writes about Harper Lee’s double miracle at The Domino Project. You should read it. I’ll wait.

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I hope you read it or what I write here will make less sense.

Dreaming is wonderful. It’s vital to an artist. No dreams, no art.

Dreaming is not a business plan.

If your plan to market your writing includes being helped, discovered, supported, or noticed by someone else (other than the fans who, one by one, buy your books) it is not only unrealistic, it is damaging.

Dream of success. Dream of touching hundreds, thousands, of lives.

But if you’re secretly hoping the Oprah or James Patterson or the New York Times will solve your marketing problem for you, knock it off. Your art deserves better marketing than that fantasy.

You pour your heart into your art. Now drive the marketing with your brain.

4 thoughts on “Dreams Are Not Enough

  1. Thanks Joel. I LOVE the line “Your art deserves better marketing than that fantasy.”
    I suspect I’ll be quoting you to students and clients on that.

  2. So many just sit around, dreaming of success, but never move a muscle. Well, how about Lee Harper? Was it luck, marketing, or what? Maybe back then, there were more doors of opportunities for writers. There so many now, that one wonders whether or not writing is worth your time, or a waste. Blessings.

  3. I read this in one of Steven Pressfield’s nonfiction books (intro to The Authentic Swing, I’ve condensed it)

    After 30 years of writing books no one will ever see because they weren’t very good (his words) he wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance and even though is own agent refused to represent it, he talked to his legal representative who sold it to a publisher based on a movie producer’s connection with Robert Redford who announced he’d love to make the movie.

    From nothing to book + movie deal, “overnight” (which only took 30 years.)

    Harper Lee’s story, I don’t know. But if she spent 30 years writing Go Set a Watchman and another 5 rewriting it into To Kill a Mockingbird then, for 30 years’ work, one book written twice from different perspectives, maybe that deserves immortality (oh, and also, being a marvelously written insight into humanity’s struggle with itself — that’s worth something.)

    Nice to see you here, Johnny.

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