If you're a fan of reality TV shows and you also visit various related websites, you'll know what FUTR means. For those of you who don't, it's Flying Under The Radar, and it refers to those contestants who don't get much air time or make much of an impression in the first episodes of the show.
I think of myself as a FUTR writer. I'm not a big blip on the radar screen of publishing; I'm more like a phantom blip on the edges, even though I just did another rough calculation of the number of books I have in print and it's over seven million worldwide. But to me, that's just a cold, hard number. When I try to think of that as people, I can't do it. Well, I can try. It's a large city full of people.
But the truth is, most days I think I have an audience of about ten. Not only do I have a hard time thinking of sales numbers as people, I rarely hear from my readers. I get the occasional letter or email, and comments here, but not a whole lot. Which seems to surprise people, until I ask them how many of their favorite authors they've contacted.
Does this bother me? No, because I honestly don't expect to hear from my readers. I sold in the olden days, when the internet was in its infancy and most people didn't have email. If they wanted to contact an author, they had to write the publisher, who then forwarded the letter to me. It still happens that way, actually, although it's rare. Now when I do hear from readers, it's usually via email. It's always a tremendous thrill, but it's still not something I expect.
I can't help but think that in a way, too, I was lucky to sell in those olden days. I could hone my voice and my craft without a lot of different opinions pulling me in different directions. I wrote what I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it, and with few exceptions, there was no one to tell me otherwise. Mind you, there are days when a word of praise would go a long way, but I've learned to write without that, too.
I wonder how it is for newly published writers now, with all the feedback possibilities. Does this age of instant feedback put more pressure on writers and add to the angst that already comes wtih the job?
That being said, I do sometimes wonder if more than two or three people read this blog, so I've added a new feature on the side. It shows the location of folks who visit this page, and it'll tell me how many people stop by. I'm not sure how long I'll leave it there, but it should be interesting, at least to me.