I have always been influenced by hip hop and I always will. I referred to/promoted my collection of short stories, The Little Black Book, as a Literary EP.
Through my time dabbling in both worlds I have begun noticing similarities between the success stories of different generations. The older ones usually follow the path of an artist who impresses a patron, whether it be a manager, an agent or a publishing house, and finding global success. The younger artists attempting to break into the industry on their own using social media to develop their personal brand towards a marketable audience.
One thing that both of these genres have taught me is the importance of creative diversification. None of these artists were one trick ponies. They all had their shtick to fall back on and further their career, but not without developing areas of weakness along the way. Literary icons like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou seamlessly crossed between genres and wrote in a variety of mediums, such as scripts, poetry, novels, short stories, and essays.
In music, many young emcees no longer just focus on writing lyrics for producers. In order to break into the scene they are actually teaching themselves how to produce music, master and remix audio, edit video clips, and learn traditional instruments.
How does this relate back to authors? Where is the connection? As a novelist, writing 6-8 novels in a year is an extremely impressive feat. But how does having unpublished manuscripts push a person's career forward? They can query agents and publishers, but that will take at least a month (most likely longer) and while an author waits to hear back they are potentially missing out on opportunities to expand their fan base. It is the equivalent of a musician putting all of their time into strictly producing completed albums.
What novelists should do, is follow the patterns of musicians and dedicate a little bit of time every week towards producing our version of Singles and Mixtapes. These can come in the form of poems, essays, short stories, satires, blog posts, or any other form of writing that can help expand our audience.
Opening up to more writing avenues could potentially unlock a new brand, or market, that an artist never thought was possible. If you are currently not fully satisfied with your writing career, it may be time to change up your approach (or add more to it.) As Einstein once said "a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."