Recently, Nick Cole gave an interview on Geek Gab, touching on his launch strategy with his new series Jason Anspach – Galaxy’s Edge. They’re doing extremely well: Book one, released in June 2017, is still at 3200 in the kindle store, and the latest release (3 weeks ago) is at 787 in the kindle store.
Clearly, these guys are doing awesome! In the interview, they touched on several things that they’ve done to ensure that these books were a success. One really interesting thing was focusing on how to jump genres from their prior books, and getting their books recommended to genre fans in that new genre. Read more
This week I’d like to zero in on a few items that have crossed my desk and/or screen over the past month; things that made me think about our industry (writing and publishing), where it is, and where it (and we) are going.
Let’s begin with last month’s mammoth Author Earnings report. I note that the authors of the report are now selling their data to the industry, and are therefore “graying out” a number of things for which they’d now like to be paid. I can’t blame them for that, of course, but it does make their reports less useful to the rest of us. Nevertheless, they do provide an immense amount of food for thought, for which I’m duly grateful.
You know, being a professional writer is somewhat like being a plumber in that it all centers around an essential premise. For plumbers, it is that water flows downhill… and it ain’t all water that flows downhill. But without that water, nothing flows. For writers it is that money flows TO the professional writer… and it ain’t all money. But without that money, nothing flows.
Writing –unlike plumbing – has an exceptionally low entry bar. You want to write? You can. Writing is the easy part, however. Getting read, and more importantly, getting paid for that writing is the hard part. For that, especially at the level where one can make a full-time living at it, you’re going to, outside of luck and powerful influence, going to have to work very hard. For the same amount of work, as a plumber, frankly, you will almost certainly make more money. The tiny percentage who make more than the average tradesman are exceptions. You may be one. But it’s not a good gamble. Look, that didn’t stop me. Why should it stop you? If it stopped everyone, there’d be no great books for me to read, so I have a vested interest in encouraging you – but I want to be as honest as possible. I succeeded, I managed – as a sole-breadwinner while the kids were at school and college – but I lived in a good exchange rate, and I’m an effective hunter-gatherer, a mediocre farmer, and I was able to choose to live in places where I’m not hunting in dumpsters and growing crops on a balcony. Read more
When a product can be easily and quickly price-shopped and compared apples to apples, the consumer is more likely to select the same product for the cheaper price. This process is called commoditization. When a product is first introduced, the novelty and scarcity drive up the demand, the supply is slimmer because it’s not yet in mass production, and the producer can charge higher prices.
Books have been undergoing the commoditization process for the last decade. While an individual work is not, perhaps, a commodity, books as a whole are, and must be considered as such when developing a marketing plan. Your book, if you are an author, might seem like something unique, and special, and a novelty on the market, but to a reader, this is not usually the case: you are competing for a sale not with another author who writes similar books, but with the mass of books in that genre (or for the voracious reader, the mass of books in general, but that’s another topic). Read more
I think most of us are familiar with the eponymous rule, so often cited in business. My take on it is something along the lines of 80 percent of the effort makes 20 percent of the work get done… anyway, I saw it cited in a Goodreads article that drew me in with the title, and their take on it reminded me that it’s been a while since I talked straight-up marketing. “The rule of thumb for online marketing recommends spending 20% of your online time talking about yourself and 80% of it talking about other things”
Now, the article was purportedly about what readers want from Authors, which is why I clicked through to read it. What it was, though, was an article about how Goodreads would like authors to act on their site (i.e. A lot more interaction with that site) rather than what readers are really looking for from authors. That’s pretty simple: more books. Read more
I had a conversation recently with a colleague about technical writing. One of my chemistry professors had told me that I should pursue technical writing, rather than chemistry as a career. My colleague, who was manager in all but name of a chemistry laboratory for the last year, pointed out that it’s a good thing I didn’t take that advice. The best technical writers, he said (and I agreed) have some experience in what they are writing about. It’s not that you can’t be a technical writer and not have done the tests, or run the instruments. It’s that if you have no hands-on in the field, you are only going to be able to have a shallow understanding of what you’re writing about. Read more