Friday, October 12, 2012

Are you a Bard

What is a bard? In my mind, a bard is pretty much the first example of today's author - someone who HAD to tell their story. The story could have been anything from sensationalized history to complete fiction made believable. Is it any different today? Not really. There's more history to draw upon, and a bigger field of fiction to sculpt into our tales, but the need to tell the tale is the same.

These early bards chose to travel from town to town telling their stories for their next meal, rather than finding a much more lucrative career that would likely have kept them a little farther from the brink of starvation. Of course, only the best story tellers could survive relying totally on their tales to get them through the tough times. How many authors today can say the same?

The next evolution was when some storyteller did well enough to earn a sponsor. This development cause the artist to expand their repertoire. Whereas before, they could move on to the next town and tell their tales, maybe altering some details or strategies a bit as judged by the reactions of previous audiences. Now, though some tales might remain popular, especially those that flattered their sponsor, they had to entertain the same audience night after night. The pressure must have been tremendous.

Then came the printed word, and with it, a whole new kind of audience, but getting it to that audience took a massive step back. Who was it that took those books from town to town? Was it the author? More than likely. And what did he do with them once there? There were no bookstores back then, nor any other kind of store that could spare the space for something aimed at entertainment rather than survival. So our struggling artist likely sat in the town square hawking his book, hoping to make enough money to print of more of the same, or something new, to sell in the next town.

But whereas the struggling life of the bard evolved to him having a sponsor, so too did the life of those very first authors, and they too acquired a sponsor - someone willing to take on the printing and distribution of great stories.

With the life of those first bards evolving through the generations, there is no reason to believe it won't continue to evolve, and if you want to be successful, you too, if you are a bard at heart, need to go with the flow. When I first started writing, I had no reason to think any of my stuff would be published. I had no way to become noticed and no real expectation that my stories were good enough to attract any attention in the first place; I was merely stroking my need to tell a story, even if no one would ever read it. When I finally did go for broke and hire a publishing house, eBooks were a distant and very new invention, but that certainly changed quickly. Now, only a few years after the first one, I've published a second book, and it debuted as an eBook. Much to my delight, it sold well, being easy to buy and instant to get to, no need to wait for a book to come in the mail. I still have one foot in the 'past'. I still struggle to get my books on a shelf somewhere. At the very least, I will keep a supply here, so I can send them off on the most incredible journey any book ever takes in order to make it to your bookshelf. I mean really, how many books ride in an open boat in order to get on a bush plane on floats, just so they can get to a post office?

Are you a bard?


Willow Drake said...

I am definitely a bard, too. Great post!!!

Mari Collier said...

Well, I seem to have a lot of tales to tell or rather write. I too have a foot in the past as the print book has sold better than the E Book. People keep asking for a print version of the E Book. The next book will be both. A really good post, Anna.

Anna L. Walls said...

Thanks Mari. I firmly plan to have a print version for all of my books. A: so I can have copies out here to sell and B: for just those kinds of people who prefer a book. I think it will be a very long time before the printed book goes completely out of style, if ever.

Debra said...

I'm not sure Anna since all I've done is magazine publishing.
But I enjoyed the article and find your thoughts insightful.
Congrats on your success.

sandra tyler said...

wow, all new to me! Thanks for this mini lesson on bard!

William Kendall said...

Great post today!

I would say I am, yes....