The other day I met this gentleman on the bus:
I was rude to him. See, Eric the Prince was trying to sell his mixtape (mixdisk?) to anyone who made eye contact with him. As I boarded the bus I was in the process of untangling the knot in my earbuds with the intent of tuning out anyone and everyone around me. As I approached his general vicinity I heard him tell another rider that the disk was only $5.00. She politely declined.
When I sat down near him he tapped me on the shoulder and held up the disk. I assumed he intended to sell me a copy as well and I declined before he was even able to say anything. It didn’t occur to me until later that this probably seemed pretty rude. See, I knew I didn’t have $5.00 on me so I knew I couldn’t purchase it if I’d wanted to; but he didn’t know I’d already heard him try his pitch on someone else.
What impressed me about Eric the Prince, though, was that he was completely undaunted. In fact, it seemed to amuse him. Instead of backing off or moving on he gave it another shot. He spotted my headphones which I was still fumbling with and approached from another direction; he asked me what sort of music I was interested in. I told him that my tastes were “kind of all over the place” (because I hate genre labels and was still trying my damnedest to disengage from the conversation). He assured me that his CD was “kind of all over the place.” I asked him if it was free, he told me it was not, I explained I didn’t have the money and he finally relented.
I was thankful to be left alone, but also a little intrigued. Eric the Prince had something I do not. He has the ability to market himself shamelessly, without fear of judgment or rejection; and right to your face. It’s a sort of out-going courage I’ve never been able to master or muster. I’m just not an out-going guy. With that in mind I figured it was at least worth giving him a shot and looking into as a sort of “A for effort” situation. So I visited the website linked above and found a streaming version of his CD and listened to it for the next 15 minutes or so.
Now, hip hop has never been my genre of choice so I can’t really speak to the quality of the music. But then, in regards to music, I’ve also been told that I am both a snob and have terrible taste; like a wine-taster who only enjoys Bartle’s and James. What I can say, though, is that I didn’t hate it and that any one of my 5-6 readers who might enjoy hip hop music should give it a chance. Stream it, it’s free. If you like it, do the right thing and buy a copy.
This brings me to the impetus for this post. Getting your name out is hard. Despite not being a fan, I really empathize with the Prince’s efforts and am a touch envious of his methods. It’s much easier, I think, to hawk CDs on the bus than it would be to walk up random strangers and say, “Here, read this.” Or more accurately, “Here, buy this thing you’ll have to read.” It’s a question I struggle with.
What’s the best way to get seen? Especially in a text medium. To hell with acquiring fans, how do you tell the world, “Hey, I’m here; come look at what I have.” I guess part of that trick is actually having something. I’ve got a handful of short stories with a few more on the way, and a novel in it’s infancy. This is probably the wrong approach, but I can’t help but feel like if there were more people who I knew wanted to read I’d be more inclined to write.
I know that sounds… Wrong. It even sounds wrong to me. Writing should be a labor of love, right? I should want to put them on paper for their own sake, right? I dunno.