Nerdy & Popular—What’s Wrong with That?

4D Reflection 2

For example, I enjoy the beat of popular music, but some of the lyrics…

Well, let’s face it, the lyrics could repeat, “Poopin’ on da pot-tee,” over and over, and if the beat is good, many people will dance to rhythm and enjoy the song. Slight exaggeration, you think? Come on, you can visualize this as YouTube sensation, can’t you? Ah, now you’re thinking about producing this video yourself, aren’t you?

To be fair, there are popular songs with meaningful or deep lyrics, even on the stations that play the same 40 songs all day long. I’m not saying it isn’t done.

I’m also not saying which songs do or don’t have good lyrics. I bet you can think of some where you would really question the source of the lyrics. We might not all agree on the list, but we might agree that there is room to improve the lyrics of some songs. That’s the spirit with which I wrote this article.

(We could just as well question t.v. shows, movies, books, blogs, etc. Doesn’t matter. I just picked lyrics to have some specific example in mind.)

I know there are other people out there who would enjoy listening to music with a hip beat and nerdy lyrics. Why should you have to sacrifice one or the other?

I have a vision for a popular music station with hip beats, but lyrics of this sort:

  • Talk nerdy to me
  • You think we’re on opposite sides of a plane, but I know we’re really on a Möbius strip
  • Faster than the speed of light, tomorrow turns into yesterday
  • I’m nerdy and I know it
  • mc² in da house!

If a nerdy t.v. show can make a Big Bang, why not nerdy lyrics, too? I’m sure it’s been done. But not at the same level.

How about, “I love big books and I cannot lie”? I’ve heard that one before. But it was a parody. It doesn’t have to be a parody to be popular, does it?

And you can probably think of a few popular examples.

Maybe such things will catch on. (Both pairs of fore- and index fingers crossed.)

There is an audience for it, is there not?

Improvements in technology are making it easier to target niche audiences, providing a more specialized experience for the audience and allowing the artists themselves to do more of what they want, and not feeling as compelled to cater to the needs of a mass audience.

Which brings me to self-publishing books. This is a great thing that the self-publishing revolution is doing for both readers and authors. It’s why self-publishing is booming.

Readers appreciate the specialization. Authors embrace it, too.

Which brings me to an important point.

When you start writing, you tend to write what you’re passionate about and you tend to write with your own unique style.

Then you start to learn things like show more and tell less, research what has been done because that’s what readers expect, justify full not ragged right, that looks amateurish, use an imprint to look professional, et cetera, et cetera.

You start to question your style.

If you make all those changes, you may become a small-time copy of traditionally published work. Is that what you want? Is that what readers want?

If they want traditionally published books, they’ll buy traditionally published books. (Duh! Yet we often overlook the obvious.)

If you’re self-published, you’re hoping to provide something they can’t get elsewhere. One advantage is to fill a need that’s not presently met.

Provide something new and wonderful, create a demand for it, and they won’t mind that it really is self-published, since they are getting something special in return for it. Plus, there is a tremendous level of support for self-publishing when you consider the number of authors plus their friends, family, and coworkers.

There are many tough decisions to make. You have to find your own style, yet you also need to find an audience. If you just do everything your own way, you might not have any audience at all.

You can get feedback. This can help you gauge whether or not you’re meeting a need. But you have to be careful. One loud complainer might not be typical of your audience.

If your current style is working, changing it carries some risk.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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4 comments on “Nerdy & Popular—What’s Wrong with That?

  1. I include a lot of obscure references in my books–the title of my latest work is a quote from Charles Fort, I have a character who is named after a brand of lock hardware, I frequently use names taken from Phillip Dick stories, and I’ve included way too may William Burroughs references to keep track of.

    However, I also try to make my work accessible to people who don’t know any of my source material. If someone realizes that “Isadore Construction” in my last book is named after the main character of Phillp Dick’s “Confessions Of A Crap Artist” I hope I get an amused chuckle–but if not, the reader isn’t missing anything relevant to the story.

    I remember when The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” came out and I was very smugly happy that I caught the reference “that book by Nabakov” and none of my peers did. However, the song was very popular with people who had never heard of “Lolita”.

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