So I’ve had a few people tell me they’re glad I’m blogging more lately, but how are you feeling about it? I’m thinking if I’m going to blog more, I should shorten up my blogs. I tend to put together some pretty long blogs and I’m wondering if there’s some rule in Blogging 101 (which I audited but slept through because it was an eight A.M. class) that says you use a particular ratio of size to frequency? (I feel a little like a teacher or a coach or a manager climbing up on the dunk tank platform and inviting everyone to test their pitching skills—and anger levels—by throwing a softball at a target to put me in the icy water.)
But I am seriously asking, so please feel free to comment, Just don’t tell me that I shouldn’t blog if I don’t have anything to say because I already figured that one out and I blog when I’ve got nothing to say anyway. It’s just how R.S. rolls.
I know we aren’t supposed to watch water boil. And I’m new to this marketing thing. I have other writer friends constantly telling me about this giveaway-ARC-blog-tour-pre-release-sample-extraction or that “sure thing” multi-impression promotion. They may as well be speaking Chinese to me because (until recently) I barely had time to write; finishing my novel and getting it out there seemed to me to be the logical principles in the equation for an author.
But clearly—especially for unknown Indies—every aspect of the process is up to us. I make my own book covers (front, back, and spine), my own trailers, and oh yeah, the book itself, which requires so many proofreadings. Even with professionals involved and multiple reads by an eagle-eyed spouse, beta readers, ARC readers, a few hundred close inspects chapter by chapter by the author himself, and finally a paid proofer (not to be confused with a “puffer” which is not to be confused with a “fluffer”) I have no idea how any book hits the shelves without errors.
The software developer who writes the perfect typo/grammar/spelling Platinum Proofreader Package is going to make millions. (Well, since he or she will be selling to broke, desperate authors moving 25 copies a week of their under-five-bucks book, let’s just say they’ll be greatly adored.)
The other side of the coin is that (like the stock market) I always feel like I’m getting incredibly stale advice from other writers who are also desperately trying to move their wares in any way they can, but are still clinging to mechanisms that have long since begun failing their constituency. Like Twitter. Twitter pretty much made John Locke. Much of the time I feel like my tweets fall on 13,000 deaf ears (more like they whiz by in the tweet stream, unread and, therefore, wasted characters). I sensed Facebook had died and started stinking up the room before I even began using it for book sales. I’ve read LinkedIn is supposed to be the next frontier for writers but somehow every time I log in there I am accosted with visions of those life vests all the rich passengers are being told to make sure and be wearing as the Titanic prepares to take her nosedive into that dark, freezing, watery grave.
I know, it sounds pessimistic. There are a few authors I know who are having some successes. But are they really? Are they really selling enough merchandise to keep the business running were they to look at things from a purely “small business” perspective? I know, it’s art. And that’s fine. I’m not talking to the people writing to create and that’s it. I know there are some of you out there. Persons who sculpt because it releases a need for expression inside them. I’m pretty sure all artists (writers being artists, too) feel that same need inside, to varying degrees. But there are clearly artists (painters, sculptors, writers, and others) who have decided they’d like to make a go of selling their work for profit.
They want to make a living. Not necessarily get rich, though most probably wouldn’t turn those kinds of sales away if they were possible. Just sell enough wares to put food on the table, fill the tank, pay the mortgage, clothe their children, and perhaps visit Disney World every other summer. For authors (and any artists) who have made that decision (and most I know, I think, have done so in one way or another—day job or no) then we’re really talking about people who have decided to start a small business.
I just had a horrid flashback to Accounting Principles 101 in college. But that’s what we’re talking about, in this context at least. Balance sheets. Credits and debits. Marketing. Advertising. Investing and reinvesting. I know it’s the boring stuff of anyone who ever dabbled in a Business Major, and it doesn’t sound glamorous or fun or artistic—but at some point creativity and the real world must clash.
We’re at the Kindle Select phase, I believe, if anyone’s keeping a road map of Amazon’s business plan. Most of the time I’m too busy “creating” to be more than marginally plugged into the latest projections (which is part of the twenty-four hours in a day conundrum) but I’m pretty sure the Giant’s plans are not to line Jack’s pockets with gold.
So there is something inside me that’s crying out for a little old school elbow grease. Paperbacks, book signings, author readings, shoe leather. You know, like it used to be. Oh I’m not talking about slowing down with the digital onslaught. Just maybe a little less focus on blog tours, costly “page impressions”, email blasts, and social networking.
Work harder at getting my words into the readers hands. Their honest-to-God callused hands. There are still a LOT of people out there who have yet to succumb to the devilish eReader, you know. I can’t tell you how many friends, coworkers, and relatives there are from whom I’ve heard these very words:
“But when is the book out? How do I get a copy of your BOOK?”
“I don’t have an eReader yet. You can read your book on a cloud?”
Also (and this may be the best business thought I’ve had this past week) I’m thinking if you believe in the quality of your words—the quality of your book—that a physical copy or fifty in the right hands might still garner you some important influence amongst those with the ability to help your writing reach the coveted masses, digital and otherwise.
I still love books—the real, physical things. Betting you do, too. I think most authors (and most readers) will forever retain that special place in their hearts for the paper, the feel, the bend, the smell. The way a book shelf lining a wall is like art.
So maybe the time’s not past to capitalize on that. Maybe you already do. I’ve been focusing hard on digital sales. Maybe I should be going back to the heartland and the big cities—wherever you find readers—and redirecting some of my limited resources.
How do you market? What are your feelings about eBooks versus the real tree-killing deal, from a marketing and sales perspective in particular?
Comments are encouraged. Grab a coffee. A donut. Banter amongst yourselves.
The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.
Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.)