Archive | December 2013

New Year, New Goals and Priorities

I find it fascinating how easily and naturally we slip into recap mode as a year on the calendar winds down. We reevaluate, take stock and look back at what has worked and what hasn’t and we begin pondering our options, rethinking decisions and choices. There are definite phases and passages to life.

For me the last several years have been about attracting new clients and the emphasis has been on growth. It has been fun and exciting in the fast lane.

My GPS is re-calculating

A few unexpected, serendipitous events have helped me to realize that I want more time for friends and family. Relationships, both on a personal and a professional level, have risen to the top of my priority list. Quality is more meaningful than quantity.

The importance of balance

I find that I want to concentrate on better serving existing clients. I also need time for other things and for people who have been neglected. Life needs to look different in 2014. When I feel restless it is an indication that it is time to expand some things and rein in others.

This is going to be a year of transition

How are you approaching 2014? Is there a course correction on your horizon?

Unless you are ‘of a certain age’ you will not relate to Guy Lombardo’s orchestra playing Auld Lang Syne. You may even have to be Canadian. I sat with my parents on many a New Year’s Eve and listened to the old year ushered out to this tune. Out with the old.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDFCwpl1z7s

auld-lang-syne

Can you afford to be a writer?

Everybody and his uncle is writing books and self-publishing. While it is exciting to be able hold your own book in your mitts it will be expensive to get to that point and it is a gamble. Don’t kid yourself. The odds against you being able to recover your costs, let alone turn a profit, are astronomical. You need to know that. You need to be prepared to deal with that, and absorb the loss if you are determined to brave the fray.

Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose

Thousands of new books hit the market every single day. The market is saturated. If you want to stand a chance of success you  must invest. It is imperative, however, that you not invest your retirement funds or education savings. Don’t put your nest egg into the self-publishing basket.

NEVER count on book sales to bring you income.

Counting the cost

There are things on which you dare not scrimp. Once your book is up on Amazon you will have a difficult time recovering from a dreadful first impression, although I know authors who have managed to do it by pulling the book down, having it edited and releasing it again with a new cover. With all of the additional costs involved. But those success stories are rare. The fickle reading public will not buy twice from a writer with substandard work, and they post bad reviews, too.

Cover art, editing, PR coaching/marketing, technical assistance

Editing is not optional. I am not saying that because I am an editor. The quality of English knowledge and usage is deteriorating and you may believe you have written a manuscript which is error free. Please believe me, you haven’t. Don’t assume you have “dumbed down” readers who won’t notice. Don’t insult your audience and don’t set your standards that close to the ground.

Cover art is your greatest selling tool and it has to be top-notch. I have seen some covers with lousy drawings and graphic design and I scratch my head and say, “Are you serious?”. Don’t get a friend or neighbor or computer geek to do this for you. Hire professionals with a proven track record.

Know this: 100% of the marketing and publicity is your responsibility. You must attract attention, do interviews (yes, even radio and TV) and connect with people who can help you make this happen. You will need to devote at least half of your time to marketing. Even big publishing houses are leaving more and more of this to the authors. You are on the hook. It all is riding on you.

If you cannot figure out how to upload your PROPERLY FORMATTED work to Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, Amazon and others then you must hire people who can. I know a handful of authors who have sweated this out successfully, but most cannot or simply don’t want to. (Hint: Don’t expect your editor to do this. I can’t, nor do I want to pull time from my field of choice to do the technical stuff.)

Try publishing the smallest run possible through outfits such as Lulu and see how well you do at lining up your own launches and book signings. Find out if you really have what it takes to market yourself aggressively.

Manage your own Amazon account

Know how to check your stats, your royalties, know the tax laws in the countries you market to. Yes, you will have to answer to their revenue people. Unless you have an agent or a manager who can oversee this for you, you are on your own.

Freelance individuals or full-service companies

I am a freelance fiction editor. I edit. That is all I do. If you are hiring individuals for every specialty (I can’t believe I am about to say this) you may not be making the best use of your dollar. You can find full-service businesses which provide editing, cover design, formatting and uploading to multiple marketing venues.

Beware of any person or business which guarantees success

There is not a person alive who can promise you success. In fact, the truth is that you are unlikely to recover your investment costs.

We all post platitudes on Facebook about chasing your dreams, never giving up, not becoming discouraged, not letting others rain on your parade. The philosophy is positive, but may not be realistic. If your self-esteem is riding on this venture please pull out now.