We’ve been arguing that you are not, as a writer, the source of original ideas as such. Instead, your work lies in taking universal ideas, images, symbols and so on and presenting them in a way which is fresh an captivating to readers. Seek to be truthful, the maxim goes, rather than original — and you’ll end up achieving a kind of originality. Only you -- the individual that you consider to be You -- is capable of voicing truths in the way that you can.
So, while you are not the source of the ideas, you are an original and unique voice. Having that voice gives you certain powers and responsibilities — you can determine the direction and purpose of your life and work. You can decide, for example, whether you want to create something to enlighten and empower others in some way, or you can create something that drives people inward or gives them a sense of disempowerment. Once you have figured out what you want to do — and often, for writers, this occurs on a less-than-conscious level — you can produce something and attempt to communicate it to others.
There lies the rub: those others — unless they recognise something about your work, nothing will happen. It, and you, will remain invisible. Your communication attempt will fail and it will seem as though all your creative work has been for nothing — you’re the only one aware of it.
Ideally, it goes like this:
The bit that writers enjoy the most, and which they consider to be ‘the writing life’, is comprised of the first three of these circles. The bit that they hope for is the fifth, which is why they seek to get published. But that is where things can be disappointing.
We can get close to understanding why if we flip this and look at things from the point of view of readers:
The disappointing bit for the writers is what, for them, is called ‘recognition’ — i.e. the moment when readers spot their work and like it. It’s the end of the journey for writers, in a way. Their work has progressed from a collection of concepts and emotions in their own heads and hearts to a package which readers can recognise. But they don't; it doesn't reach them.
For readers, that same recognition point is the beginning of a journey which hopefully ends with the reader becoming a fan of the writer.
What we call ‘marketing’ is the management of that journey. As you can probably tell, there are many places where one could become lost on that particular voyage — and, importantly, the places don’t begin after the work is written, but right back in the beginning, when it is being formulated. Thus ‘marketing failures’ can’t always be blamed on failures which occur once the book has been published and distributed.
This might sound grim, but it actually opens the door to understanding and enlightenment.
The key to having readers recognise and develop an affinity for the work (and later, the writer) is to trace back the elements within the work which lead to that affinity — and pre-selecting which readers to show the work to. In other words, it’s a case of understanding one’s own voice, one’s own purposes, and one’s own writing so one knows from whom one should be seeking recognition and how to get it.
In brief, it’s about voice recognition: getting the reader to recognise one’s voice, and making sure that one speaks in a place where one is likely to be heard.