Having a .com after my name is a little strange. A lot strange, actually, as swirling and indeterminate images of internet commerce wholly unrelated and alien to my name are conjured by the thought. I’m not a global bookseller sans bookshops or an online auction house, so I’ve never really thought about being a .com. In fact, when I’ve thought about starting an author’s website in the years since my first novel was published in 2004, I’ve always assumed I’d end up a .net. I don’t really know what a .net is, but I didn’t think of myself as a company or business, therefore not a .com, nor a .org, as I’m not a school or non-profit. And yet, here I am, a .com, because the friend who so kindly helped me set up this website (more on that later) strongly recommended I choose the .com domain for my site rather than the .net or .org. More traffic through the site was the main consideration, I believe.
It doesn’t surprise me – that .com’s get more traffic. After all, most of the big sites we are all aware of are .coms, and about the only .org site I use with regularity is pbs.org to find out what is on Mystery! or Masterpiece Theater. What exactly this says about me or about us, the internet surfing world, I wouldn’t know precisely, but it at least confirms something we all already know. We’re a commerce and commodity driven world, which makes perfect sense of the absolute supremacy of .coms. That I don’t think of myself or my books as commodities doesn’t change the fact that to the publishing world, both I and they are. A good friend in the industry recently gave me very timely and no doubt good advice about needing to consider “my brand” as I think about projects I might work on in the near future. I hadn’t really thought of myself in “brand” terminology, but it is necessary that I learn if I want to continue as a writer – which I most assuredly do.
I could rant on and on, but that would be tired as others more learned and insightful than I have already lamented this state of affairs. It seems best to accept cultural dynamics that are not only larger than me, they are larger than the publishing industry itself, and seek to work within this industry which I may not wholly enjoy and certainly do not wholly understand, but which makes possible this thing which I love – telling stories in book form.
And so, I will become a .com if this will help strengthen my brand and publicize my product, but I will decline to think of myself in commercial terms, though others might do so. And, as a writer, I will only tell stories that I want to tell. Fortunately, I find great enjoyment in many styles and genres, both as a reader and a writer, so finding a story that I want to tell that might also be commercially viable, does not seem from my vantage point to be an overwhelming burden. I am not the first person, and certainly won’t be the last, who has made his peace with the fact that certain hoops must be jumped through sometimes, to do the things we love.
I can live with that. I think.