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Hype & Becoming Civilian Justice

POSTED ON June 14th, 2010  - POSTED IN Hype

Both Mark and Sam talk a lot about hype today, and I think between them they cover just about all the point I would have made.

However, Sam says something I think is very important

“But if one of them asks me about my book, I’m not going to tell them that it’s shit and hope they buy it because I’m just a humble guy”

I think he highlights something very important – that in this day and age, if you don’t market yourself, you’re as good as dead as an author.

Of course, there is a danger to that. I’ve often talked about “Civilian Justice” as an example where hype can outstrip talent.

Civilian Justice is a comic book hero from back in my toy days. Basically it’s one guy trying to take on the Marvel & DC empires. Now instead of just trying to do a comic book, he’s trying to do it all: Comic Books, Movies, Animation, Video Games, Toys. And you only have to look at the video below to see how it’s shooting well above its station.

Now, there’s part of me that fears becoming like that – a joke in the industry because I’m overselling myself. So what do I do? I do what 90% of would-be authors do, and shirk in the background and worry about everything.

But you know, that’s totally the wrong way to go about it. In an industry that is so competitive, even if you are an amazing talent, it’s unlikely anyone is going to see you if you shirk away. And that means taking a risk, putting your neck out a bit, and being prepared for being a bit of a “Civilian Justice”.

And maybe that’s being unkind, because to be fair, they’ve achieved a lot with Civilian Justice, probably more than they would have if they’d shirked away in the corner. Books are subjective, and not made in isolation, so I’d hope that the fact editors and the like would be involved would act as some form of gatekeeper to ensure the quality is there and things are not being over-sold.

Yet, still there is that worry, that unfamiliar territory, like you are sticking your neck over the parapet. But if you don’t it will never happen. I can kinda understand why so many of these writers put on this false bravado, as they stand there metaphorically trying to sell their books. It’s not easy, and you’ll always run the risk of someone calling you a shill and a talentless wannabe. Yet for every one of those, there’s the chance that someone might actually like it, that it might open doors. That’s surely a risk worth taking, far better than obscurity.

And for all people might think it’s all a bit over-hyped, over-rated and unsubtle, it would take a lot to outdo Civilain Justice – and look how far that brand has come!