Equivalence and Emerging Writers
Having written extensively on POD Publishing in general and some publishing platforms in particular, the connecting element is always the indie writer. An issue getting little attention to is the concept of the emerging artist. As Alfred Stieglitz main plain a century ago, is what he termed “Equivalence”. That being all art forms, fine art, music and writing have an equivalence to the creators of the art, and the audience.
A quote attributed to him sums it up. “My cloud photographs are equivalents of my most profound life experiences, my basic philosophy of life. All art is an equivalent of the artist’s most profound life experiences.” This was in reference to his famous “Cloud Series” photographs, and the connection to Alfred sending some of these photographs to his composer friend in New York, telling his entourage of followers... ‘when (composer) sic sees these photographs he’s going to say “That’s music man, that’s music”.
The significance of this being that an artist will recognize the artistic value of another artist’s work, even when in another genre. The question arises from this then, does the public which purchases the fruits of the genres of art, also see in the sense of equivalence? What does it take for an emerging artist, i.e. unknown author, to become recognized for her/his work, with reciprocal buying of their book?
My earlier experiences owning a gallery of Fine Art photographers, in the 80’s, have given me some insight into this equation. My expectations of the photographers I represented were in line with most galleries at the time. I wanted to know how long a photographer had been doing their craft. There is the rule of thumb for an artist reaching ‘journeyman’ level of their craft after ten years, being considered ‘seasoned’. Included in the arena of time was the body of work produced by the photographer. The breadth, consistency and quality of the body of work. Basically, if you have a dozen prints of mediocre quality to show, you aren’t ready for prime time exhibiting.
I believe wholeheartedly in the theory of equivalence. I also believe there are the same forces playing out for writers/authors that affect artists, musicians/composers. The author must demonstrate commitment to their craft over a period of years. They should have a portfolio of work, via articles, essays, stories, books, etc. demonstrating a breadth of work, as well as consistency of quality over the list of accomplishments. I consider an expected period of at least five years for an emerging writer/author to begin to gather a following of readers, who expectedly would then convert to buying customers of said work.
As always, I use myself as example, being I write about this subject and am myself a self-published indie writer. I have been writing for forty years. I have had my poetry published in two dozen literary magazines and anthologies. I began using the POD Publishing platform (Create Space) a bit over three years ago. I have published seven books in that period. I am working on the first of many fictional novels, which will begin my writing within one genre; fictional novel. I tend to work on five-year plans for most things, being most things that are worth pursuing take time to mature and offer return on the efforts. In the next two years, which completes the five-year plan, I expect to have at least one finished novel to add to the book collection portfolio. Who knows, if things unfold as I dream them, I may have two novels in hand by then. That’s the focus, that’s the plan. Expectations beyond that or readership numbers along the way, for me, have no part to play. They are but game scores on the way to playing in the championships.