Tuesday, April 13, 2021

What Authors Seem To Be Missing

As I look over a lot of author's posts on social media, I am seeing a common thread that I think is holding back authors from being successful. While being in publishing as a writer is about the creative side and the storytelling, it is also about the marketing and business side of things. This is about selling a product. It is about consumers and producers. It is about market research and advertising. 

While I fully understand editors and agents will always tell you to write the best story you can... to write the story of your heart, authors still need to think of this as a business. Will your product sell? Who will buy it? Is there a market for it? The list is endless.

I don't care about how hard you worked, or the quality of the research, we always have to return to the single concept of whether or not there is a market for that book.

Think of selling any other product out there. You might come up with this great idea that you know no one else out there has thought of. OK, good start. It is original. But the next big question you need to ask is if this is a product that A LOT of people would want to buy. Successful business professionals always start right there. If the answer is that the product is going to go no where, and only you and a bunch of friends think the idea is good, then you would stop and not proceed. You would not invest a ton of your personal capital creating the product, doing research and development, or even start looking for investors. 

And yet, what do authors do? They just charge forwards. They write and research. The lose countless hours of their lives on a product that will simply never sell. And when that happens, they turn to social media complaining that the publishing world is "just not interested in new works." No, they are not interested in things that do not sell. Remember, agents and publishers are looking at your book as an investment. Will this sell? Is there a market for it. 

And yet, the author continue. They charge ahead saying they will sell their product through self-publishing and "prove to the world they were right." Did they do that market research? No. But they still charge ahead, dumping all of their capital on a product, and then wonder what happened. 

Being a professional writer also involves being a business professional. It requires a market savvy. And if you don't have that, this might not be a career for you! 

What Type of Cereal Is Your Story

I was talking to one of my clients just recently about a novel she was reading. She just did not understand what was happening. The story was not amazing. The writing was not through the roof, and yet she just kept reading it. As we talked about it, I equated it to breakfast cereal. It was Cheerios or just plain Corn Flakes. 

Think of it this way.l When you eat a plain bowl of cereal like that, is it amazing? No. Does it fill you up and do the job. Sure. But that is about it. These are not blow you out of water level breakfasts. These are functional breakfasts. And in the case of this story. It was doing just the same thing.

Now, if you wonder why your story might not be getting picked up by agents and editors, or maybe it is not getting the reviews you want, it could be your story is like some of those over-the-top breakfasts. Think Capn' Crunch. This is an over-the-top sugary cereal. You either like it or you don't. There is no middle ground about it. If you are into really outrageous breakfasts or your story is REALLY different it means that it will only work with those people who are into REALLY different types of things. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Time, Deadlines and Success in Publishing

Publishing is all about timing. We all know that if you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right book, your story will make it. Today, however, I want to look at a couple of other aspects of time that might add to your success. 

First of all, let's talk about the issue of timeliness. 

I don't know how many times I have had a submission come in from an author that I thought had some potential. So I ask for more. It might be a partial, or it might be a full manuscript. And I never hear, or worse yet, I hear up to 6 months later. Really? What happened? I WAS excited then but the odds are, that excitement is completely gone. I might not even remember what it was that sounded interesting. Sure, I have a note in my log of requesting the material but that is about it. If you can't get back to someone in a timely manner, you are just shooting yourself in the foot.

In the last 6-12 months or so, I have had a couple of projects that I was VERY excited about. I told the authors to send me that additional material. I had editors that I knew were interested. It is now April and I have yet to hear from them.  

Timeliness is also a factor when it comes to your production rate. We know that authors are successful when there is a constant reminder of their name in the public. But, if you can only produce one book a year, don't count on a lot of success. Readers will have moved on. Remember, as soon as they read a book of yours and they love it, they will immediately go out to find your next book. If there isn't one, then they move on.

The other aspect of time is that of deadlines. Editors can and will be flexible when things come up with not being able to get a book finished. I do want to remind you that we are not talking about months but maybe a week extra to get that book finished. However, if this happens all of the time, you simply will not see those great release times in the future. I think authors forget that there are a lot of other people involved with the production of your book. Everyone is waiting on you.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Getting Writing Advice From The Internet May Be A Big Mistake

 This is an area that, unfortunately, far too many authors have fallen for. It is not intentional and I do believe so many authors out there are trying their best to do the "right thing" when it comes to making their stories great or taking the right approaches with their publishing career. And yet, far too many are being sucked into misinformation and misguided suggestions they have found out there on the Internet.

I really noticed this just recently when I saw a lengthy thread on one of the writing social media groups. Someone had asked a basic question about romance writing. That part is fine. But what followed was a lot of misinformation, and nearly 50+ responses later, other authors had turned the conversation into nothing but rumors, false information, or just their personal thoughts. Now here is where the problem turned ugly. The authors who were talking the most in this thread, proclaiming their "knowledge" of the field turned into "the experts." Later posts would answer a side question about something and another author would "cite" that previous expert author... even though their answer and perspective was far from correct.

Authors of today, who have so much access to information out there on the Internet need to be more than cautious when doing their research. Yes, I know that many will claim that finding the correct answer is almost impossible, but this is far from the truth. It isn't that the information is impossible to find, it is just not what they maybe want to hear. 

So where do you go for the quality and authoritative information? The true experts. Go to the publishers (and not companies that proclaim to be a publisher but just print your self-published book. Go to the editors. Go to the agents. Go to the people who have worked in the industry and are now potentially doing freelance work. Those social media threads are often more of a situation of "the blind leading the blind" and this IS NOT what you want to follow.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Lack Of Your Type Of Book Does Not Mean There Is A Need

I hear this all of the time from authors. There is not other book out there like mine so it will clearly be a big seller! While the thought sounds like it might be on the right track, I think these authors really are missing the point here.

Doing market research is one of the most important things an author can do. This gives an author guidance as to themes, eras, sub-genres and even voice to some extent. In fact, every business does that. It is always important to get on that wave (hopefully early) and ride it out until the next wave hits. But, if there is truly nothing out there like your book, the odds are there is NO MARKET!

I see this a lot on the historical author chats out there on the "Interweb." Authors are writing their novels and spending years on research for time periods that are just not going to sell. There are also authors in these groups that are amazingly angry at the publishers and agents who are not willing to look at their novel. Their books are amazing and their beta-readers (translation their close family) love their book. That's great! But there is not a buyer out there interested in those topics (other than that author, their beta readers and that professor who wrote the one research book on the topic). 

And now the authors try to take the argument to a new level. Maybe it will be their book that will start the trend. If you are someone who has been reading my blog for some time, you know I refer to those rare occurrences as anomalies. Those authors are the exception to the rule, and the odds are, there are a lot of other variables they are not discussing with the public that allowed that to happen.

So, does that mean you should not write that novel? No. If your heart says to write it, then do so. Just don't go complaining when no one is interested. You did this because you have a passion. But do remember, book sales are not build simply around the author's passion.