In my twenty plus years of writing and creating art, I have rarely collaborated with other creatives. I enjoy being a stand alone, independent person. Experience has also taught me some harsh lessons in regard to collaberating.
There was one good time on Paltalk in the early 2000’s when I sang a hook for a producer in Las Vegas. We did that for fun, creating a parody song. I still have the copy of it and occasionally listen, enjoying the memory. That one was a casual and positive, collective collaboration.
The few other collaborations I’ve done have left me jaded. I hear this often from indie creatives. So why does collaborating with other creatives end up like this?
What I have experienced is a simple lack of ethics and a self-serving intent. They simply don’t give a shit. They don’t think their behavior will ever come back to haunt them.
When I say I’m going to do something for someone I do it. If I’m having struggles producing the exchange I promised, I communicate about it. I care about my character as a creative being.
In my experience, ethical creatives are difficult to find, especially when dealing with any Hollywood related type individual. My personal experience had been that many of them are narcissistic sharks who will love bomb a person with a fantastic promise; a lie to get what they want. If you plan to deal with Hollywood types, armor up and lawyer up. Frankly, lawyer up period.
Sometimes collaborating can be a great advantage for a creative who is starting out. It allows for networking and connection. I support guest blogging for writers. You get to control your content and you can share it as much as you want. I highly recommend this platorm for writers. I don’t consider this to be collaboration persay, as there is normally no exhange promise or writing as a collective. Guest blogging expands the reader platform for your writing.
However, in regard to exchange collaboration, the question remains. Is there going to be a balanced exchange of product and the sharing of creative work?
My previous, and certainly final, experience in being burned on exchange collaboration happened like this.
In 2015, I made a collaboration exchange agreement through email with a videographer. I wrote a poetic script for the videographer’s short video. In exchange, the videographer was going to make a video for one of my pre-recorded spoken word poetry pieces.
I emailed the videographer three of my recorded pieces. In a return email, they decide they liked my poem “Illusion”, a piece I had not publicized and would do so with the video was given to me to publicize. The videographer asked if they could put some music to to my poem. I agreed.
I waited. I watched the videographer making videos for other people, but my video had not arrived. I gave them time. I understand that paying projects come first. That’s how I work as well.
The following year, the videographer and family went through a transition, moved, had to re-settle, and so I gave space for them to balance out. Being patient and giving allowances, I waited, didn’t bother them, figuring when their dust settled, I’d receive what I was promised.
I observed as they did just that, becoming a part of a sensationalized situation. I still held space, feeling that advocacy work came first.
Yet, I saw the videographer was making videos and doing photo shoots for people. So, I decided to email and see had they forgotten about me? Possibly. It can happen when people go through life transitions.
Ok. I stay in my critical thinking, hoping I’m not witnessing what my gut had really told me from the beginning; that people will use others for gain, then throw them away.
I messaged the videographer on Facebook messanger. I could see the person had just been active a mere fifteen minutes earlier.
Again… my message Ignored.
They’ve been active on Facebook messenger since I sent the message.
So, I am resigned to take it for what if is and let it go. Now I know how these people are. True colors have shown themselves. They attach to people for as long as they might gain from them and then its seemingly over.
I do things in writing for a reason. I am a writer who likes to have proof of truth. I document. I keep emails and messages.
It was 2015 when I originally handed over the script for their video. In 2016, I have Facebook communications about the video I was supposed to receive. It is now 2017. I still have nothing.
This is about seeing the ethical system of other people. Instead of a simple response of “hey, oh gosh, so sorry this has taken so long thanks for being patient.“, I am ignored.
Guess what that triggers? Shunning. Being extracted from. A myriad of emotional battery replaying.
When I am treated this way, if someone asks me about them, they’ll get the truth of my negative experiemce. I don’t run in popularity contests. I don’t use people for personal gain then throw them away.
I’m not as pissed off at the lack of being given what I was promised, as I am at the blatant disrespect of being ignored. I’m no longer promoting those who are unethical people. I don’t care who they are. If you got mentioned by me in a radio interview, or your work shared to my thousands of followers and then fucked me over, you will never be promoted by me again.
There are no second chances when someone openly disrespects me. I don’t play nice. I don’t kiss the ass of academia, which is slowly phasing and dying out. I don’t worry whether someone is going to like or even endorse my work. Why?
Because running on this mindset is a recipe for being used, being bullshitted and it’s frankly, inconsequential. Most readers don’t give a shit if your novel has a forward written by someone with PhD after their name. unless you are writing an academic book.
Readers read content. I usually skip forwards as a reader, to get to the meat of a book. Most readers I know do the same. Blurbs don’t impress me either. You can have a blurb from a president on your publication. If your book doesn’t interest me, that blurb is not going to make me buy it.
Additionally, it doesn’t necessarily sell your book. Marketing knowledge and the money to invest in advertising will sell your book/product.
So all of the spazzing and pining and usery I have experienced in my decades of being a public creative, from my experience, means nothing except being the teacher of lessons.
What matters to your audience is how well you write and create and more than ANYTHING, personally connecting with your target market.
In summary, my advise and perspective is to focus your time and energy on YOUR own work. Don’t give it away. Definitely don’t give it away on a promise, even in writing. Unless you have the resources and desire to sue, should you not receive what you were promised, more often than not, you will find yourself empty handed.
I also don’t want you to pattern your networking based on my experiences. Just take them into consideration and move forward better armed to build your boundaries.
And without QUESTION, follow your INTUITION. If your tummy feels off about it, say no and don’t look back. Don’t live in the mindset you “need” people to be successful. You only need authenticity and consumers for your product.
As you rise, people will tell you how much they can do for you, that their collaberation will make your work better, that their written forward will boost your sells and more. I disagree. I know authors with forwards by academia who are making nothing on their books because they have no marketing skills.
Good marketing is what matters. Investing in yourself matters. Your own voice will sell your product. So, think twice before collaberating. And remember, the imagined professional reference you think might endorse your product could also lose you consumers if that professional is not respected.
Don’t be afraid to stand alone.
Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.