Saturday, September 22, 2012

Am I All Alone Here?

Often, I elect to do my own thing, especially when it comes to my writing.  Some could say I'm a risk taker, and artist, whatever.  I'm just doing what I like and think will work for me and my situation.  But sometimes, I wonder if what I'm doing isn't the right thing.  To wit:  my election to this point to not do a freebie promotion.

It seems like all around me, authors everywhere are running free promotions on their books and giving away tens of thousands of copies of them.  Afterword, it sounds like they are selling 4, 5, 10 times or more than they were before the free promotion.  When I read or hear about these, I feel like a fool because I'm not doing that.  What makes them so special that they can have success but not me?

Well, I suppose that I could also join the ranks of the free promoters, giving away thousands of copies of books and potentially getting reviews and new fans galore.  I think I had written about this before in a previous post, and my arguments haven't really changed.  Is the exchange of a lot of free books worth it to get some (hopefully) good reviews?  Will that mean that I end up with a long-term, higher rate of purchases?

I'm just wondering if I'm all alone with my position.  I don't intend to make one of my books exclusive to Amazon and do freebie promotions.  I'm looking to make sales of my book to those who actually want to read them, not just people looking to score something for nothing.  I value my work, my effort, my storytelling more than that.  Am I all by myself here?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are You Serial?!

The idea of serial storytelling, that is, publishing a story in installments, is not a new idea.  Charles Dickens might be the most well-known author that has utilized the serial story idea, but the idea has never died out completely, but languished in niche areas.  That has been changing along with the publishing industry as a whole.

Why publish a story as a serial instead of all at once?  Well, for starters, it was a way for an up-and-coming author to make a name for him or herself.  It was much less expensive to offer the story in small parts in a weekly newspaper, and it had the added benefit for the newspaper that folks would continue to purchase their paper so they could continue to enjoy the story being told.  To publish a full book was very expensive, primarily because so much work went into laying out each page.  Mass production of books was not yet a part of the book publishing industry.

Then, as it became cheaper to produce books, and paperback versions came out, further reducing the costs, books were no longer relegated to only those who could command the largest reading audience.  Lesser known authors could see their works printed and bound in book form, and as such the serial form of writing, for the most part, went away.  It remained in various places and served it's purpose in those niche areas, but until recently had not come back to a place of prominence.

Today, thanks to the flexibility of ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, serial publishing has once again gained the favor of authors and readers alike.  It's very inexpensive to publish a serial story (very near to zero, if you know what you're doing) and you have the potential audience of millions around the world.  Dickens would be envious of such a lofty position!

So, what about you?  Have you thought about writing a story that is delivered in serial form?  Amazon actually has a special program dedicated just to serials.  You would pay one price, and you would then get all of the parts to the serial delivered to you as they get published.  And it doesn't matter when you purchase the serial - if you get it after the 3rd installment, you'd get all three installments right away and then all future installments after that.  You'll never miss an episode!

I think I'd like to try it, and it would be a great medium for ongoing detective-type characters and others.  It's worked great for TV shows, such as Lost, Mad Men, Fringe and others, why not for books?  What other sorts of story lines might work well for this serialization idea?  I'm excited to find out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is Writing Your Passion?

Over the past several months, the issue of someone's passion in life has been the subject of many conversations.  So many people are just "working", doing a job in order to make ends meet.  I'm no different:  I have a day job that I work over 40 hours at every week, and it pays the bills.  But it's the things that I do with my remaining waking hours that really shows what I'm interested in, what I like to do, what I'm passionate about.  And one of those things is writing.

I don't know how many times I've heard someone say that they would just LOVE to write a book.  When I press them, they say that they have a really neat idea, and when they tell me I usually agree.  So then I ask them why they don't do it, why they haven't started yet.  The answer I usually goes something like this:  "Yeah, when I find the time!".  I've got a little secret for you:  If you are passionate about something, you will find the time.

Do I feel bad for these people who dream of writing a novel, but never do?  I little, yes, because they don't even give themselves the time to try it out.  But, then I remember that if they really wanted to try it, they would find the time.  However, there's another type of person, someone who actually did try writing a novel or two.  They've succeeded where so many others don't even start.  They've finished their book, and then they went on to self-publish it.  And then they start to wonder why it isn't selling a hundred copies a day.

It's these folks that really need to evaluate if writing is their passion.  If they really had the passion for writing, they would continue to write, to learn, to study, and to try to make their next writing project better.  They would be able to identify areas in their last work that could be improved if they were to do it again.  They wouldn't be frustrated with slow or even non-existent sales, they would be grateful for the sales that they did have and work to find more people that would also be interested in what they wrote.  They wouldn't get discouraged by a bad review, because they had been expecting it.  They would find time, even little bits of time, to keep writing or doing other things that advance their latest project or hone their writing and/or story telling skills.  These people have passion.

Do you have the passion?  Do you stay up late writing in order to finish something that's captured your attention?  Do you keep looking for new opportunities because you never know when you'll come upon a really good way to reach your target audience?  Do you keep learning about the industry, the latest changes, trends, and how to make it work for your goals?  If you do any of these things, and look forward to it, then you probably have the passion.  But what if you don't?  What if you find it to be taxing?  What if you find excuses to NOT write?

If you find yourself questioning what you're doing or finding ways to avoid writing or doing anything having to do with writing, you have to seriously question if you have the passion for writing.  Okay, we'll all give you credit for finishing that novel, because that's a huge thing; not many people even get that far.  But be honest with yourself and how much you like writing.  It's not for everyone, just like being a surgeon isn't for everyone (I'd faint so fast in the operating room it wouldn't be funny).  I've often said to people who complain over and over and over again about their job, if you don't like it, why are you still doing it?  Life is too short to be stuck doing something that's drudgery.

So find out what your passion is.  If it's writing, that's awesome!  Keep at it, keep writing, researching, doing, learning.  But if it's not, do yourself the biggest favor you can, and stop writing!  Go find what your passion really is, and pursue it with gusto.  You'll know what your passion is when you dream about it in your sleep, talk with people about it even when they could care less, and especially when you start to invest your hard-earned money on things dealing with your passion.

So go on, find your passion!  Mine is to write.  What's yours?