The secret of my lack of success

Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Back in the day when we were doing majenta in print in ’Burque we had a core readership of about 100. We always sold every issue of printings of 250 or more. Sacha wanted to persuade me that it should be free. We priced the first issue at 25¢ even though the paper it was printed on alone cost more than that. So, the quarter wasn’t about making money, it was about forcing a subconscious realization that this was a thing of value. A thing to be wanted. Not a thing to be handed on the street; discarded, at best picked up again to scribble a phone number.

As small as it was we had some minor macro-amphibian micro-environment stardom. We had two unsolicited out of state reviews and one from the local press; almost entirely positive. The late sometimes great R.P. Dickey called the local one a “love letter.”

Barnaby got the hot coffee-house skirts that I solicited for poetry.

Todd and Orion made me feel famous and there were words and beers shared that any of the old bastards like Hemingway and Bukowski would have found well-worn.

Neil, on more than one occasion, was introduced to strangers or friends of friends to a response of, “Oh, my God! You’re the guy!” He offended and impressed people by mere reputation. Colored me green.

Even I, though. In Taos after a year’s hiatus and right before the final issue I ran into Christian Mayer and his belle and upon introduction she said, “Oh, no way. You’re the one who made those?!” She was a crossword fanatic and had actually completed the ridiculously twisted, jocular, and incoherent crossword puzzles I wrote for the ’zine.

Today, this lovely website—plaited in whatever crappy gamma and anti-aliasing the bulk-sale PC you use at work provides—allows me to reach, depending on what parts of the site you slice and whether or not it’s a school vacation, between 500 and 9,000 readers daily.

Well over 2 million page views in the trailing 12 months with 1.3 million of them being definitely human and not web robots. That’s not a lot compared to say IMDb.com, where I used to work, which gets more than that on the very worst day of the year but then again I only have about 1,700 pages on Sedition proper and they have just a bit over 10 million, so going on ratio, I’m actually kicking their asses 2:1.

Now, with an annual readership 500 times bigger than the entire lifespan of An Elektrum Press’s print history I’m still not satisfied. Yet I continue to be unwilling to do what it would take to be successful.

The personal and group websites that are wildly successful—250,000+ views per day—almost all suck or are, at best, interesting about 1/4 of the time and really good 3 times a year. They’re pandering, breezy, shallow nonsense like Daily Kos, soap operas with the memorable plot arcs long since vanished like Luke and Laura Dooce, or one-upsmanship cluster-fucks like the website formerly known as Slashdot.

Though there are clinkers on Sedition·com, taken as a corpus, it’s better than any of that other content. So I say. My credentials against the obvious bias. Tennyson and Nickelback suck. Yeats and Clutch are boss.

So why will I never be popular?

Let’s consult the dictionary: eclectic, spastic, inconsistent, esoteric, combative, infrequent, discontiguous, blue, and irreligious. Add creeping sarcasm into a Gunning-Fog which gambols from 4 to 20 and you’ve got a recipe for disaster in search of a market. A site without a target audience, just targets.

I have offended everyone at some point. If you think I haven’t offended you, you either haven’t read enough or you’re in the one percentile union of about six normally disjunct sets and you are generous with your doubt benefits.

This isn’t the kind of stuff that one blithely forwards to forty friends. Any reader who stays for more than one paragraph would never do that anyway.

Yeah, before you chime in that my critically acclaimed stability might qualify me for special publicity stunts, I am aware there are shortcuts to fame but I ask you: who is Sirhan Sirhan? No? Mark David Chapman? No? Andrew Kehoe?

You see, that kind of fame doesn’t stick and I don’t even want the fame. I want $50 a day, US. That’s just $18K/year and it’s not much but it’s enough to pay 60% of my bills and mortgage. If I had 60% more time I could get around to whittling down that fabled 1% I haven’t managed to alienate.

Where’s that confounded punchline?

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