Does “It” Exist If No One Sees “It”? And Can You Make “It”?

I get a fair amount of email asking advice about internet PR. Things like, “Should I do a video promo for my book?” Or, “is a podcast a good idea?”

My reply, first, is usually: “Who is going to host it and how are you going to guarantee an audience for it?”

The fact is, you can create any number of wondrous promotional tools for your book, but if you can’t find a way to bring people to “it” or take “it” to the people, you might as well not have bothered–unless you’re getting some kind of creative satisfaction out of it that is its own reward.

The situation reminds me of times back in the day, when I was running a literary press that mostly focused on poetry. For that first issue of the magazine Chimera Connections, and even the first couple of chapbooks, we’d get it printed, send it out to what subscribers we had, and then…well, then, we’d relax for a couple of months. With big ol’ boxes of magazines in the livingroom.

The existence of a creative object or artifact does not guarantee an audience for “it”.

Further, the same skills that led you to create “it” are not the same skills required to leverage it in our electronic world. You may be the person who can create it, but not the person who can make the connections–both in your mind and in the larger world–to bring it to an audience. That is a definite, separate skill. Not everyone has it, and only some people have it in genius-level quantities.

The larger lesson here, one that took me awhile to learn but which has made my life much less stressful and much more successful: Recognize your own limitations and find others with the required skills and experience. No one is equally skilled in the performance of all tasks.

And that’s why my second question is generally, “What are your qualifications for creating ‘it’ in this context?”


  1. says

    You’re absolutely right. “If you build it, they will come” is not a proverb that applies to writing, music, art, or any other creative object or artifact.

    I believe at one point or another, to some extent or another, every creative person falls into this trap. We come up with a brilliantly creative idea. We work on it, feed it, nurture it. When complete, we announce it to the world and hope (or even expect) people will immediately line up around the block to see it. “It’s brilliant!” we tell ourselves. “Why wouldn’t people flock to it?”

    Well, the reason is because “people” have about two thousand other things to think about, people to talk to, and places to visit. If you don’t appear along any of those paths, you are invisible. Which is technically the same as not existing at all.

  2. says

    Yeah–and it’s a much more crowded arena than even 10 years ago, because more and more people have cheap tools to be creative along with the ability to without expense make them public (a different thing than making them public to a large number of people).