How to Thrive as an Erotic Writing Activist: An Interview with Dorie Clark

Posted by: on Jul 27, 2017 | No Comments
Just a snippet of Banksy's famed arts activism

Art activism, courtesy of the amazing Banksy.

Erotic writing activists face a ton of challenges. Not only do we want to reach the audiences that matter most, but we need to earn enough to be able to write and take our activism to the next level. We do a great job of fighting society’s shame, but sometimes, or even often, our work is blocked or attacked. So how can we stand out in our activism, ensure that we reach the right readers, and get paid well for our work?

To help with these challenges and more, I’m delighted to interview bestselling author, consultant, and speaker, Dorie Clark.

Dorie Clark is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, which was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. magazine, one of the Top 10 Business Books of the Year by Forbes, and was a Washington Post bestseller. Her forthcoming book, Entrepreneurial You, now available for pre-order, will be published by Harvard Business Review Press. A former presidential campaign spokeswoman, the New York Times described her as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.”

Dorie Clark, © 2014 Marilyn Humphries.

Dorie Clark, © 2014 Marilyn Humphries.

No stranger to activism herself, Dorie has worked as a political reporter, presidential campaign spokesperson, nonprofit executive director, and documentary filmmaker. Both Jake and I are tremendously excited about her forthcoming Entrepreneurial You!

Without further ado, in we launch:

Lana Fox: How can erotica authors and artists who identify as activists ensure that others start to view them that way?

Dorie Clark: There’s a lot to study here from the LGBT movement. In a culture like ours that shies away from open discussions of sexuality, identifying openly as an erotica author or artist can be perceived as very threatening to the status quo. Traditionalists may – as with early LGBT activists – try to insist that your activism is simply “justifying your lifestyle” or attempting to spread “deviant values.” In the face of this, two things are paramount: first, continuing to identify yourself openly and with pride, so you control the discourse, not your opponents; and second, embracing sophisticated organizing techniques. Rallies and social media are important – even essential – but they’re the flashiest forms of activism, and can easily fade from memory (witness Occupy Wall Street). What really gets results over time is the sustained push of things like voter registration and turnout. When you master that, you can make deep and lasting change.

Lana Fox: Do you have any tips for writer-activists who want to reach a very specific audience?

Dorie Clark: I’d first try to understand where that audience is already congregating, in person or online. What are they reading (blogs, magazines, listservs, etc.)? What conferences or meetups do they attend? Then, create a targeted plan to reach them there. That might involve volunteering to guest blog for other publications or applying to speak on panels at key events. If you truly understand your audience and do a “deep dive” into who they are and what they consume, you’ll soon be able to develop a plan to reach them.

Lana Fox: What’s one of the best investments indie authors can make in their future?

Dorie Clark: I’m a huge advocate of building email lists, and encourage any author to start doing this immediately. Social media is not a substitute for your own email list where you can communicate directly with your fans. Facebook and other social networks are constantly changing their algorithms and it’s easy to lose access to your fans in an instant. I talk in more depth in this article about how to build your email list.

Lana Fox: We sometimes hear writers saying that their work is “not mainstream” enough or is “too niche” to be discovered by their target audience. Do you have any advice for these authors?

Dorie Clark: In our society, we often equate success with scale – “of course Oprah’s a billionaire, because she reaches millions of people.” But that’s only one path to success. For folks who are looking for encouragement in pursuing a niche strategy, I’d suggest reading the classic essay 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly. It’s extremely possible, thanks to the Internet, to make six figures a year with a niche audience.

Lana Fox: Often, as activists who are fighting shame, our work is banned from places like Amazon, Apple, and other channels. How can we start to overcome such setbacks?

Dorie Clark: There are two tools at your disposal: the outside game and the inside game. In the outside game, you rally your readers and colleagues to publicly pressure these channels to rethink their policies. Social media and stories in traditional media outlets can both be helpful here.

But rattling the gates often won’t, by itself, accomplish your goals. You also need to play the inside game, which means banding together as a movement and identifying some of your members who are the most politically savvy and persuasive, and empowering them to lobby quietly on your behalf. The outside rabble rousers allow these folks to be the “good guys” who can strike a deal.

Lana Fox: Do you have any inspiring words for those who are shamed online, and in reviews, because of their activism?

41IjFwFHpfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Dorie Clark: This is not the most PC advice that I give, but I feel it’s important to share. When there’s someone trying to make you feel bad about yourself, it’s nice to say “just ignore it,” but it’s not very practical. Of course, you don’t have to take action against them (and often shouldn’t), but no one can just forget about it and have it not affect them. There are only two realistic choices: blame in (i.e., shame) or blame out (i.e., fuck them). I think it’s important for all of us who want to be strong, self confident people to embrace the latter, not the former. So my inspiring words are: fuck them.

What a very inspiring interview, Dorie, with an ending that deserves fireworks! Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your wisdom and encouragement. We’re big fans!

Folks, I highly recommend Dorie’s books Reinventing You and Stand Out. They are worth every cent. And keep your eyes peeled for Entrepreneurial You, which is coming 10/3/17. You can pre-order it here!

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