The day I spent my first dollar finishing my book, it moved from hobby list--climbing volcanoes and making lava rocks, riding in gondolas in Venice, insulting French shop owners in Paris, reading, dogs, horses and writing-- into my business enterprise lists. I've spent capital. Now it's a business. So, I made a business plan, set a development timeline, a milestone calendar, a budget and a marketing plan. Not sexy, not fun. Reality. If you spend money without the objective of getting it back, then you lose money. Who wants to chase a dream that bankrupts you? I write instinctively. I invest strategically. If I invested instinctively I'd be broke now. Don't want that. Too old to be broke!
I can't make rhyme or reason of what most Indie Authors are trying to accomplish. The author forums make me sad. In the threads there is always someone talking about how they have to make more money to write more and self-publish. There are lots of ideas and techniques to market books. I have yet to see an overall plan. They want agents or publishing contracts. Some think self-publishing will get them there. Some want literary validation: I won this award or that award. In reality, most of us are not writing literary fiction, our readers aren't going to care what awards and credentials we have. And darn, winning those awards cost money and I don't see a return. Unless, it's a Goodreads recommendation: that translates into exposure, readers, sales and profit. That one I understand. But the rest of them: totally don't get why authors want them.
You know that annoying girl you all went to school with? The one who always asked why? And when you answered she said, but why not this? Well, that's me and I'm pretty much hated on my authors forum. I approached it as a learning process, and part of learning is to question, challenge, think outside the box. That's how you develop a success business strategy: utilize the things you know, gather industry information, question why, think outside the box, and put it into a structure. Alas, they don't like me.
Here's one of my why's: why is a publishing contract or an agent a goal for anyone? Publishing is a declining industry. Self publishing is cheap and easy. There is no layer between me and my readers. I can take my passion(writing) turn it into a business and a brand, and make money. Where does the publisher fit in? I can do that myself.
But what I'm doing makes sense to me and it's part of my wheel house of experience and success. I did the real world market testing of my book because it was an essential part of achieving my next project milestone. My product(book) placement. The first placement of your work that readers are likely to see is your website. A million books are published each year. My book will be adrift in an enormous Amazon catalog. It's first meaningful placement is on my website, so I needed to know what would appeal to readers likely to purchase my work. The test marketing gave me the demographics of my best target markets. Knowing that, I created an online presence for my book series that is in line with expectation: Modern, clean, and really easy to find the buy button. My demographics doesn't want to spend time to spend money. So as I prepare to release my book and my business, I'm investing time in product placement. It's a lot of steps. Hopefully, they pay off.
HERE'S A SHOUT OUT TO INDIE AUTHORS DOING HORROR, PARANORMAL, FANTASY,EROTIC, and all those other genres not likely to win a Pulitzer. I have such respect for you. You seem to inherently get this. Because many of you are enthusiasts of your genre, you are a part of your genre and you make your online presence a total experience. These Indie authors are getting the hardest step right: product placement and branding, turned into a total reader experience!
Don't get me wrong: I would be thrilled to get a publishing contract(mostly because self-publishing is a lot of work and I'm old!), but I am amused at the threads I've been reading about how to sell yourself to a publisher or an agent. "I'd put my literary awards and why I'm qualified to write this book on my query. Oh, they want to know something about you..."
I know exactly how my meeting would go if I stepped through the door of a publisher's office and they asked me what qualified me to write this book and why should they want me? Simple answer: I've sold X number of books, with a product line of 26, My reader multiple purchase(how many different books by me they've bought) is X, my marketing budget is X, and I've made a profit of Y, and I get 50K hits a month on my websites. Oh, and you get me.
Never forget if you want a publishing contract, Publishing is a business! Never forget, once we've invested that capital that is so hard to earn, you are a business. It is so much easier to sell a successful business than an unproven product(your book) .
Tomorrow's blog post. You are a part of your product(your book). Why don't romance writers get that?