But, among other circles, I'm surrounded by people who eschew plot, people who are more than happy to find a small press to sell a few hundred copies of their work, people who are perfectly satisfied to self-publish because they fear they may not live long enough to find an agent to represent them.
I'm straddling at least three different writing circles, each with its own ideals and standards.
The funny thing is that I can't distinguish these groups based on talent. In all of them, I have met writers that I consider to be extremely talented. This only helps me to see that a lot of the goals we strive for can sometimes be the result of the people who are around us. They can be arbitrary.
The other thing about these social circles is that they represent groups of people that are often largely distinct from one another. Though I feel like I belong to them all, I can still see that they tend to stay separate, so that the people I know through blogging don't know the people I know through my other online community, or through my in-person writer's group. And, I wonder how far these slightly overlapping circles can reach, if eventually they do interact enough to represent a bigger writing whole, or if the connections are so tentative that groups will forever remain distinct.
This blog, for example, has a pretty fixed set of readers. Do each of these readers have other circles that they are familiar with that I'm not familiar with at all? And, if we traced through these circles, in a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon sort of way, would we eventually be able to reach ALL writers and readers, even those rare and precious outsiders?
I once sat down and tried to come up with a list of people I knew for sure would buy my book if I were to publish it traditionally. My number was 63. Then, I counted the people who would PROBABLY buy my book, which gave me an additional 36 people. With a grand total of 99, relying strictly on friends and family wouldn't result in very impressive sales figures.
But then, I wonder, assuming the book's reputation was worthy of spreading through word-of-mouth, if those 99 people could reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. What are the limits of our social networks to spread our art? What would it take (i.e. how good would a book have to be) before a person would start to recommend a book to others?
If I can get 99 people to buy my book based solely on who I know, my guess would be that each one of us has the potential to reach a vast number of readers if only we can inspire our networks to spread the word about what we do. And, the nice thing about that system is that the quality of the book (at least in the eyes of those readers) will probably determine how well the book can sell.
This sort of thinking often makes me feel like it doesn't matter how I get my book out there. If it is good enough, if it can stir up the masses, it's probably enough to have 10 friends who are willing to give you that first bit of blind support.
What do you think about social circles? Are our current social circles capable of making big things happen, or would we have to start with an initial group that is much bigger than, say, 99 to make a difference?
And, I'm curious, how many friends and family members do you all think would buy your book just because they're supportive? And, what would it take for that first group to spread the word? What would it take before YOU spread the word about a book you liked?
Sorry, a lot of questions for you all today. Answer any or all of them.