PUBLICATION PONDERINGS: In a “first rights” world, how does a writer grow a readership?

Gosh, I can still count on one hand the number of useful articles I’ve been able to dig out of Internet world on the topic of growing readership.

Note: For those of you from places other than Earth, humans generally have five fingers per hand (there are exceptions, of course). This then means that out of the thousands of writings available, some five-ish or less are actually worth the keyboard effort that generated them.

Is this because most articles are simply meant to gain the elusive “click” needed for ad content to generate profit, thus, never meant to be helpful? Perhaps it’s because there isn’t really a secret? Or maybe those knowing the secret don’t want to give it away – unless they want to tell you for a price, that is. I don’t really know, and I’m not sure that’s it’s my problem just yet. [See: Figure out your goals before you decide whether or not you’re reaching them.]

There is one thing, however, that I’ve noticed stands as a giant roadblock for those wanting to write on-the-regular and share those writings at a social media world pace: “First rights” contract terms for publishers. By that, I mean the weeks or months of waiting to hear back from a publisher during which time the author may not publish their work in any public or for-profit way whatsoever. 

I know, I know. This is nothing new in the writing world, but as someone who likes to write 1,500-20,000 word short stories regularly, it seems like a daunting predicament. What’s that, you say? You want this little piece of my heart and soul to sit in a black hole for a completely unknown amount of time for an unknown result while I promote the readership of that which has not published nor can I publish for such time that is unbeknownst to me?

There’s the option of self-publishing, but it seems to me like that’s a different situation wherein the author has written a complete, novel-length piece that has a totally different structure for promotion. There are sites like WattPad, too. However, after a quick walk through as an adult-oriented genre writer, one might find they’re a little out of their demographic. Here, too, there are exceptions, but it seems a mountain-sized task to become one of them. The sites for writers also seem to be more for review and feedback than for finding pure readership.

The traditional method seems to be 1) deal with it and wait; 2) chit chat on social media, hoping to get follow-backs; 3) blog about related stuff and tag it well, hoping the tagging gods will place your blog in front of people who might care about it; and 4) wait for the readership to grow out of the traditional publishing.

Ah, well. There’s my $.02 on the issue. 

-Dacia

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