The title of this week’s This American Life is “In Defense of Ignorance.” For those of you not familiar, This American Life is a one-hour weekly radio show and podcast in which the content always varies widely, but the format is an exploration of an idea or a theory or an event in multiple acts with multiple stories.
This week’s program got me thinking again about a concept in which I have always had an interested– being an outsider. There is something uniquely empowering to people that are outsiders. Of course, there are plenty of challenges not being “in the know,” but there is also a great advantage to it as well.
In the tech world, outsiders are the ones that disrupt the market with new innovations. Disruptive innovations create a new market that disrupts the existing market and status quo by displacing the established market players. (As an aside, if you enjoy Mike Judge–creator of Office Space and Beavis and Butthead–and you haven’t seen his most recent HBO show Silicon Valley, I highly recommend it. They have created a fantastic parody of the tech world that constantly pokes fun at the self-aggrandizing way the tech industry likes to throw around terms like disruption and pivot.)
Ignorance sometimes frees us from the norms and expectations that can stifle creativity. In Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine, he explores, mainly through anecdote, how creativity most often comes from outsiders that don’t feel restrained by the unwritten rules of the trade. Often times this is because they don’t even know those rules yet. Lehrer’s book was well-regarded for a short time, until it was revealed that he self-plagiarized and fabricated portions of his book. However, the idea he presents, in part, the idea that outsiders often times bring creativity to the table, still remains bouncing around in this brain of mine.
Ignorance can free us from the norms and expectations that stifle creativity.Click To Tweet
We’re indie authors, you and I. Many of us are self-published. Yes this puts us at a distinct disadvantage from the books published by the Big 5, particularly in the arenas of marketing and available capital. But this also puts us at a unique advantage to bring creative solutions to the table. We don’t have to follow the unwritten rules that traditional publishers have created because, if you’re like me, we don’t even know them.
Be creative. Come up with zany ideas for writing, or marketing, or selling your book. See what works.
I tried a giveaway that I called the Pay It Forward Giveaway. The idea was that I would give my book away to ten winners, who then had to bash the book publicly if they hated it, but had to buy the book for another friend if they liked it. The friend would then have to read the book under the same agreement. The giveaway failed spectacularly. I still like the idea, but it was decidedly unsuccessful.
That doesn’t matter, though. I’ll try a different avenue and different ideas. You should too. Forget what has traditionally been done. Think outside the box. Write a visual video book. What’s a visual video book? I have no f-ing clue! It hasn’t been invented yet. Write a choose your own adventure popup blog. Market your book by training your cat to go door-to-door with free book excerpts. Try something different.
We’re indie authors. We’re outsiders. Be an outsider. Embrace your ignorance.
We’re indie authors. We’re outsiders. Be an outsider. Embrace your ignorance.Click To Tweet
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