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I know. I'm supposed to do this regularly. Saw a thing on the Social Media Hustle Lifestyle and it said that you gotta keep up the posting frequency you started with. So if you're doing say five posts a day on Instagram, well you by god better keep posting that much every day or you're gonna slip in the metrics. You don't want your metrics to slip, well do ya!? Gotta be like a shark. Gotta keep swimming. Never stop.

Gotta keep that brand alive.

Which is why I'm back on Instagram. Yeah, I know. I may as well be on Facebook, too. Well I'm not. But you can check things out at hwy_62 on Instagram. Go ahead, hit me up. Let's see some numbers jump from this call to action. That's what I'm supposed to be doing, yeah?

As you can tell, I'm deep into the Hustle of selling myself out here on the internet. I, a genuine person exactly like yourself, yet aspirational and carefully-curated. Not at all gawky or awkward in the flesh. Always there with a firm grip and a bright smile, impeccable. Not sweaty or uncomfortable. Listen to what I have to say and you can be like me. Not only author as product, but author as life guide. If only you love me without thought or reservation.

Nah, I don't believe this, but the people out there selling you on the Hustle do. You know the ones. They're saying that you gotta spend more time selling the art than making the art. And they can tell you just how to do it right. Beat those metrics. Get those keywords jumping. SEO your way into your readers' hearts. The work itself doesn't matter. Only the selling does.

There's truth to that, but there's a lotta bullshit there.

And hey, even if you become hugely popular, you gotta stop being a goddamn human being, dig? Look at the thing going on with the famous, highly-image-based-singer and the music journalist who dared to write a piece examining the work fairly, not with an agenda, and not even slamming the work. The brand demands fealty, dig? And if you're impure, well, you can be cast out pretty easily. There's hungry fans who'd be more than happy to do the work for you. This goes for say, thin-skinned NEW YORK TIMES columnists, too. Though at least they'll personally go over your heads and try to flex on your boss to get you fired. The singer, well, she's just casting you out of the church, out of the flock. Love wholly or not at all.

Keep those positive metrics flowing. Rack up the likes and engagement. The work will take care of itself.

The funny thing is that it's the reader that makes the art. It's the listener that makes the art. Sure, the creator/creatrix/creating individual who doesn't want to be tied to gender fabricates the work. But without a reader or observer or listener, there isn't any work. Sure, objectively there's a piece that can be pointed at. The truth of it is that there's gonna be a different work for every different reader who takes the work in. It's co-created, a lovely truth that was swung well by Alan Moore and JH Williams III at the end of PROMETHEA. Honestly, hold fast to that, the opinion of the work being a reflection of the reader/listener/observer. Because you cannot prevent it. And trying to prevent it only makes you look like a goddamn asshole.

Yeah, I'm comparing my experience with QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS (available now from finer booksellers or Broken Eye Books or Amazon) and that of Queen Moody Bummer or NYT op-ed guy pitching a hissy fit online. I'm envious. I'd love to have a fractional percent of any of their fanbase. But maybe just stop at the fractional percent, you know? But I got reviews on QONT that are baffling. Just like I got reviews on STRANGEWAYS, my long-ago graphic novel series, that were equally so. Too long. Too short. Feels like it's hurried. Obscure. Just right. All over the goddamn place.

But it's not a thing you can engage on. Even at the indie level. Sure, maybe reach out to a critic who absolutely got it and say "Hey, thanks for absolutely getting what I was going for in the book/movie/record" but leave it at that. Going after a bad review is just poking the bear. There's a lot more of the bear than there is of you. And if you're getting your fans to go after critics, or going after them at the workplace, well, we're back to asshole behavior.

Folks, I know I'm an asshole, but I try to manage it. Though often my coming across as an asshole is a manifestation of awkwardness, fatigue, desperation or just being done for the day. I am filled with multitudes.

Would I like all my reviews to be positive, but not so positive as to arouse suspicion? You bet. I'd love it if people simply left reviews so I could get my metrics running over at Amazon. Yeah, I think about that, way more than is healthy.

But going after a bad review? You've got too much time on your hands or you need to reassess your priorities.

Speaking of priorities and selling things, I've gotten to a point in my work where if I think for a second about selling the work, I lock up. Yeah, this means I'm a dilletante and unprofessional and I just don't know the market. Sure. Whatever lets you sleep at night. Truth of it is, it's frustrating and draining and borderline humiliating to consider the audience in this particular way, the way that the Howling Pit has got us going. I'm working on a new thing, tentatively titled THE DROWNING CITY. It's a follow-up to QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS, though I think there's a book that belongs in-between the two. Not to mention CINDY SAYS, which is a sideways prequel (just set before in time, not a real prequel, though it does feature Alondra and Ariela as the Trouble Girls early into their career with No Tomorrows.) And then there's THAT BLACK RADIANCE, which will finally address some of the storylines left deliberately untouched at the end of QONT.

I just have to decide on presentation. Series of novellas or bigger chunks of story as novels. I figure that I can do the novellas as digital originals and then sell a couple of them bundled in print books that would actually have a spine presence on a shelf (yes, that matters -- why do you think fantasy books run so goddamn long). But those different forms have very different needs, narrative-wise. One's much more a serial and the other is the massive chunk. Still chewing on that.

So, yeah, that's what I've been wrestling with lately. Let's talk about some good stuff instead.

Read the new novel by Richard Kadrey, titled THE GRAND DARK. It's a good book, lots of fun. Interesting setting, well-realized. Would make for a pretty amazing miniseries, honestly. Kinda CABARET in a much more technologically bent world, though fighting the same forces that ground the Weimar Republic to dust.

Moviewise, I'm still chewing through what Amazon has to offer. The latest was CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH, a 1995 horror film, adapting Clive Barker to the screen. I was afraid that as it was a sequel and the first was so very good, that this would be a letdown. Pleasantly surprised to see that not so. Moving the setting to New Orleans was a great move, and it couldn't have been done anywhere else. Recommended.

Uh, comics. I'm re-reading THE INVISIBLES as decompression at the end of the day.

Musically? Still on the coldwave/darkwave tip. Like so: Hante.

I did take a recent trip to LA and Long Beach for the Long Beach Comic Con and the C3 Expo. Maybe I'll write something up tomorrow, but no promises.

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