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I DO care about my site. I love it, and I am glad that our interactive swashbuckling story is already eight years old, and counting, and that I can also count on a few people since six- eight years ago. This is an important achievement. BUT I DON'T CARE ANYMORE if some people think it's not active enough (it is, just way slower than it used to be). I don't care if those newer members decide suddenly a long time investment isn't worth and they leave. I had to accept the idea that these are who we are, this is our current rhythm and that we won't get new staying members unless our members bring their friends, to stay for writing with them. (Which they don't, because most of our members don't have friends interested in our setting, or writing - at all or in English). And when I see on the resource sites all ask for "active sites, not dying ones"... and that slow = dying for most people, I get angry. We aren't dying, even if our story is progressing way slower than a few years ago. Just that we have other commitments or health problems which don't allow us be as prompt as we used to be. Our main quality is of being reliable. We finish most threads we start (no matter when, but we do). Our story is coherent and consistent, and progressing. I let it lower with the advertising, knowing that I have to resign with the few members we have and with some of them quitting due to lack of interest, to the site being slower and slower and being able to do nothing to change it. All the advice on the resource sites are things I have tried in vain, one or another time. This is who we are, and I don't care if someone thinks it's a dead site, when we know we aren't. Just posting once at 2-3 weeks on average. We are welcoming. There is always a possibility to interact with a character or another, given that we are writing in liquid time. As for events... it's normal that some plots are for certain factions (nobility only, commoners only, seafarers only). On most sites it is the same. We are also flexible and willing to integrate anyone. The problem is that most people want replies at least every week, if not sooner, and only 2-3 people might be able to post as quickly. We aren't playing pretend with our characters, and this is also one reason to find less new members interested. Historical fiction is a niche, and there aren't many people who like doing research. In my opinion, the coherence of the plot is a bonus, it is something good, but others might not like that they have to... pay attention (even if it is required for any writer! ). Also I am shocked how little creative are most people. When I ask them, upon joining, "What stories do you feel more inspired to write? What stories have you created this character for?" the reply is usually a variant of "I don't know, anything". (which means "you think it for me, and I am just riding along... or not even). I used to believe that I, as administrator, have to be an example, to promote the activity I want to see. Now I don't care anymore about it. There had been too many years when I did it, without any result. I mean, I can control only my activity, and "activity begets activity" is not always true. People will post when they have time. And no matter how many replies are piling up into the OWED section, they would reply only when they are available. I learnt it the hard way. Lately I am in the same situation, having lowered my activity significantly, just because I can't do it as I used to, anymore. I am not flaky, and I still am going to finish everything I started, but it will take more time. I just have difficulty writing lately. Having half a day taken out and returning home unusually tired and mentally exhausted doesn't help. Having to spend some of the other part of the day cooking, shopping for our household or attending literary events adds to the lack of time for writing. And I have to split my writing between novels (and short fiction too, especially for certain contests) and the two RPG sites I am on. So... I do what I can. There are days when I can't write at all, and days when I can do only one writing thing (usually correcting/ editing what was already written). I don't care anymore if I don't meet self-imposed deadlines, because I simply can't. Sometimes I think (I might be wrong or I might be right) that if I was somewhere in the countryside, so that I could write outside, and have no other daily worry, I would succeed to do it. But as I can't go anywhere, that's only an excuse . Or a dream.
It is nothing new that the world is functioning upside down in various aspects of life. Why not in the writing realm too? 😢 As you know already, and as you can see from the blog image, I have published three novels up to now. Two others and a short stories anthology will follow soon, almost certainly all three to appear this year. I published with small indie presses, because this is what I have the possibility in the current book market conditions. Many writers more seasoned than me published with the same two indie presses, so I am in good company. (And they aren't vanity presses, printing and dumping the books in your arms. No, they assure launching events, participation at fairs, the collaboration of literary critics, etc.) I am glad that I have started to become a little known among the contemporary writers in Bucharest. If one googles my pen name (despite being quite common internationally) one can find something about one of my novels too. If googling the titles, there are few information about them, but they are, reviews and photos. I had good reviews from the literary critics at the book presentation events, I had my novels displayed at the bi-annual Bucharest International Book Fairs... all these are successes for a junior writer, with only 3 novels published up to now. What's more important as a success, is the fact that I have a senior writer's support to get in the National Writers' Union (union as in professional association, not what you understand generally by trade Union and we call Syndicates, which is work regulation-related.) It will happen, most likely, in 2019, after I get the required number of publications. My publishers also support this endeavour, and they will rally enough literary critics to get the required recommendations portfolio until then. (It has started building already). It sounds lovely, but... let's vent my frustrations too, here, not on my public blog, where those who have generated them in a way or another can see them... And this comes with the warning that the Romanian book market, unfortunately, doesn't ressemble the English speaking books market, so most of the book marketing ideas I find online, in English speaking blogs, unfortunately do not apply. While the English speaking market is catering to nearly one billion people (there were, in Internet statistics, 400 million native speakers of English, to which to add 400 million speakers of English as a second language, in 2006, and I assume the population has increased in 12 years), the overall population of Romania was of 19.5 million people, out of which about 4 million are abroad, about 3 million too young to read my novels (below 14)... and from the remaining 12.5 million, about 40% or more are poor, too busy to survive and not reading anything else than an occasional newspaper or religious book. Sad, but true. Of course, from the remaining people who would read in principle (some regularly, some occasionally) not all are fans of historical adventures fiction/ YA, what I am writing. This is a realistic analysis. As far as I heard the publishers say (not only personally to me, but also in interviews on the internet) - and we have our "big fives" here too, plus a whole constellation of small indie presses (the equivalent of self publishing would be here dealing directly with the printing house without a publisher, which is recommended only for professional books which have already the distribution ensured or for people who print one memoir book in their lives to give to 50-100 people, not needing ISBN or anything), in my country a book (written by a contemporary national writer, not translations of international bestsellers and not books required for school reading like our classics) printed in 1,000 copies is already considered a best seller. My novels were, 2 of them published in 200 copies, the first one in 300. It is the level generally the writers around me use. Now, my sincere frustrations? - I haven't recovered the costs on any of them. Yes, I have sold some, but the greatest amount was given freely. Now, to be honest, I knew from the start that I wouldn't get rich from writing. I did it from my heart, and I loved when I received compliments about the books (not only from the critics, I appreciate more the readers' compliments and questions, even if I know the critics' are of importance for the accession to the Writers' Union). This is when I felt they got their mission, to brighten someone's day and to transport them to another time and place, offering them an insight on that way of living. But I would have appreciated if I succeeded to recover my costs. Some writers know business owners and get sponsors. (I had sponsors too, back in 1999, for my professional handbook in project management). I don't know influent people who would be able to sponsor me, every cost is supported from my meager savings (given that I am retired now). Yes, I sold books at various events... but the money received covered the expenses of the event, with very little margin (if any). - I can't reach exactly my target group, the high-school and Uni youngsters. Until now, my novels were bought mostly by grown-up or older people who were nostalgic about the style of novels they use to read, because these were the ones coming to the literary events. - I had also two interviews in English about my novels (1, 2, I remember one more but I can't find any link, just the file where I replied to the questions) and one other would come soon, but I can't reach the Romanian book review bloggers, despite having seen some other writers getting several reviews. It's not about the novels' quality, it's about whom you know in the field... and I don't. Or, at least, not yet - I am still working on it. And praying for a bit of good luck. ...And everything needs more money. Half, I understand this as in the fact that if I try to expand my marketing network, this doesn't come for free because this is what those people gain their living from - organising things. I understand that some reviews/ forewords/ have a price too, because those critics are famous and listened to, on one side, and on the other side, this is what they are gaining their living from. In the rare cases when I made reviews (I hate making reviews, but I consider that if some people spoke in favour of my books at my launchings, I have to give it back to the writers' community and do it whenever needed from me), I made them from the moral spirit expressed above, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask for any benefit. (Well, I received the book free from the publisher in exchange of the review). I am lucky that I don't have to pay my beta-reader/ first editor, because many people have to do it too. She does it from friendship, for free, and I am grateful to her. But in a world which wouldn't function as upside down as it does, the writer should be allowed to write - like it was before the ascension of social media - and the others should do the marketing part. I am sure that Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas weren't the ones to do much more than writing. Yes, they received their money after the books were sold, but nobody asked them money for publishing, for book launching events organisation and other things. Or, if now shedding money is a must because there are too many books published and no publisher assumes the economic risks anymore in this crisis economy, at least they should want the money from the sales! Not before recovering the costs... One would say fame has a price. But I still have the feeling that things aren't how they should be.
I found this a while back and it's something that has kind of stuck with me. I wanted to share this so others could have a read and debate it. I will openly admit that I've been a little less than keen in posting this to any roleplay community because it takes issues with many who share roleplay as a hobby. (Though I'm confident that there won't be any issues here and that we can talk and debate this like mature adults. This roleplay community is the only one I've found that I'm confident enough to post this in. And I've asked @Morrigan before hand just to ensure this would be ok.) Here's the link where it came from. So now thoughts?