Tag Archive | selling

Reblog: What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

Okay, you have your new year’s resolution all set!  Now you are ready to go make a splash professionally.  Before you look at site statistics and let yourself feel overwhelmed, please take a look at what Kristen Lamb has to say about the odds of your success and how much control you really have over it.

 

I do not agree with everything in this article, but it is certainly worth thinking about.

What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

didn’t even consider becoming a writer until 1999 after my father passed away suddenly. Funny how death can make us take a hard look at life, right? Anyway, I recall feeling soooo overwhelmed. I mean my odds of even getting published were about as good as winning the lottery. And the odds of becoming a best-selling author? Well, mathematically speaking, I had a slightly greater chance of being mauled by a black bear and polar bear on the same day.

It was all I could do not to give up before I began.

But, after over 14 years doing this “writer thing,” I have a new perspective. Often it feels like we are the victims of fate, at the mercy of the universe, when actually it is pretty shocking how much of our own destiny we control.The good news is that if we can get in a habit of making good choices, it is staggering how certain habits can tip the odds of success in our favor.

Time to take a REAL look at our odds of success. Just so you know, this is highly unscientific, but I still think it will paint a pretty accurate picture. I will show you a bit of my own journey. And, to be blunt, this DOES NOT ONLY APPLY TO WRITERS.

Did you know most entrepreneurs fail at least three times before getting traction? Most new businesses don’t make it a year. They are fortunate to survive THREE years and if they can hit The Golden Six? Smoother from there. But WHY?

The 5% Rule

It has been statistically demonstrated that only 5% of any population is capable of sustained change.

I remember when I was a rather young writer and NYTBSA Bob Mayer introduced me to this idea. I was AGHAST! No, writers just needed nurturing, cuddling, and help. Trust me, it pains me to say he was/is right.

***But Bob is generally right and that is often why it ticks me off to admit this.***

I worked for years with self-professed writers who refused to learn, listen or even work. They had the skin of a grape and wanted to make it in an often undervalued profession that is NO place for the idle or thin-skinned.

Thus, with that in mind…

When we start out wanting to write, we are up against presumably millions of other people who want the same dream. We very literally have better odds of being elected to Congress than hitting the NY Times best-selling list. But I think that statement is biased and doesn’t take into account the choices we make.

As I just said, in the beginning, we are up against presumably millions of others who desire to write. Yes, millions. It is estimated that over ¾ of Americans say that they would one day like to write a book. And that is only ONE continent. Much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand are burgeoning markets in the new digital paradigm.

That’s a LOT of people. Ah, but how many do? How many decide to look beyond that day job? How many dare to take that next step?

Statistically? 5%

So only 5% of the millions of people who desire to write will ever even take the notion seriously. This brings us to the hundreds of thousands. But of the hundreds of thousands, how many who start writing a book will actually FINISH a book? How many will be able to take their dream seriously enough to lay boundaries for friends and family and hold themselves to a self-imposed deadline?

Statistically? 5%

Of that 5%, how many will join a critique group—A GOOD ONE—and learn instead of sulking?

5%

Okay, well now we are down to the tens of thousands. Looking a bit better. But, finishing a book isn’t all that is required. We have to be able to write a book that is publishable and meets industry/reader standards. When I first started writing, I thought that everyone who attended a writing critique group would be published. I mean they were saying they wanted to be best-selling authors.

But did they?

Or, were they more in love with the idea of being a best-selling author than actually doing whatever it took to succeed? I would love to say that I was a doer and not a talker, but I don’t want to get hit by lightning. There were a number of years that I grew very comfortable with being in a writing group as a writer…but not necessarily a professional writer.

I was still querying the same book that had been rejected time and time and time again.  I wrote when I felt inspired and didn’t approach my craft like a professional. I was, at best, a hobbyist and, at worst, hopelessly delusional.

I didn’t need craft books *snort* I spoke English, so I knew how to write. Geesh! *rolls eyes*

I was a member of two writing groups, and had grown very fond of this “writer life.” We hung out at I-Hop and drank lots of coffee. We’d all chat about what we’d do with our millions once we were bigger than Dan Brown. We talked about new ideas for books that never seemed to get written. Or if we ever did sit to write one of these ideas, we would get about 30,000 words in and then hit a wall.

Hmmm…and I thought that idea had so much promise.

Yet, after four years hearing the same talk from the same people shopping the same novels, I had a rude awakening. Maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. Maybe being a copy writer and technical writer and editor didn’t automatically make me a novel-writing genius. Maybe I needed to take this dream of being a best-selling writer a tad more seriously and not rely on bluster, BS and glitter. Maybe I needed to read craft books and scrape up enough money to go to a conference.

So, of the tens of thousands of writers who write a novel, how many read craft books and get serious enough to take classes, listen to thoughtful critique, and attend conferences?

You guys are good….5%

And of those who attend a conference (and want to traditionally publish), who are asked to send in page requests, how many follow through?

Likely, 5%

How many will land an agent right away?

5%

And of all of those authors rejected, how many writers, determined to impress, are willing to GUT their novel and wage wholesale slaughter on entire villages of Little Darlings? How many are willing to put that first novel in a drawer, learn from the experience and move forward with a new book…which they FINISH?

5%

And of the writers who land an agent or are brave enough to go indie or self-publish, how many of them get dead-serious about building a large social media platform?

Again? Probably 5%.

And of those writers who are published and doing social media, how many of them are effectively branding their names so their name alone will become a bankable asset (versus taking the easy way and spamming everyone in sight)?

5%

Of those who self-publish, how many will keep writing more books and better books until they hit a tipping point for success? (versus beating marketing one book to death)

5%

Of writers who self-publish, how many will invest in professional editing and cover art?

5%

Thus, when we really put this dream under some scrutiny, it is shocking to see all the different legs we control.

We control:

Taking the Decision Seriously

Writing the Book

Editing the Book

Finishing the Book

Learning the Craft

Developing RHINO SKIN

Networking

Following Through

Not Giving Up in the Face of Rejection

Writing Books

Writing More Books

Yes, Writing Even MORE Books

Doing Everything in Our Power to Lay a Foundation for a Successful Career

I am not saying that finishing a book is easy. None of this is easy.

This job is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, which is exactly why most people will never be genuine competition. When we start out and see all the millions of other writers I think we are in danger of giving up or getting overwhelmed. Actually, if we focus on the decisions we control, our odds improve drastically.

This job is like one giant funnel. Toss in a few million people with a dream and only a handful will shake out at the end. Is it because fortune smiled on them? A few, yes. But, for most, the harder they worked, the “luckier” they got. They stuck it out and made the tough choices.

In the Sahara there is a particularly long stretch of desert that is completely flat. There are no distinguishing landmarks and it is very easy to get lost. To combat the problem, the French Foreign Legion placed large black oil drums every mile so that travelers could find their way across this massive expanse of wasteland one oil drum at a time.

Are we there yet?

 

Want to be a successful author?

Take it one oil drum at a time.

What are some oil drums you now see ahead? Does your journey to author success seem easier now? What makes you feel overwhelmed? What inspires you?

Repost: Why Networking Is a Dirty Word

Another very useful blog post from Stage 32.  Today’s is called Why Networking Is a Dirty Word.

 

———————————————

Today’s blog marks the return of one of my favorite people on the planet, Julie Gray.

The author of Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas, Julie Gray is a script consultant and writer living in Tel Aviv, Israel. A Huffington Post and Script Magazine contributor, Julie is a favorite speaker at the London Screenwriter’s Festival and has taught story at Warner Bros. Entertainment, Oxford University and The San Francisco de Quito University in Quito, Ecuador. Julie directs the Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon, consults with prose and screenwriters all over the world and volunteers with Amnesty International in Israel, helping African refugees to tell their stories, as well as with Natal, a non-profit for survivors of terror and war.

Can you see why Julie is one of my favorite people on the planet?  But wait, there’s more.

Julie has selflessly helped hundreds of screenwriters and other film creatives througout her career both personally and through her recently retired website, Just Effing Entertain Me.  She recently launched her new site, Stories Without Borders (how perfect is that name?), where her passion for screenwriting and those who choose to pursue a life in the craft shine through.

Compassionate, brave and selfless, they don’t come much better than Julie.

And she knows a thing or two about networking too.  The evidence lies below.

Enjoy!

RB

“It’s who you know”. We’ve all heard it.  It is perhaps one of the top three truisms about Hollywood, the other two being, ironically, “Know the rules before you break them” and “There are no rules”.

Networking. The word is both specific and vague. Like – go to cocktail parties with other writers? Invite people to lunch? Go to screenwriting events? Hand out business cards? What kind of business cards? What should I wear? Oh did you hear SO-AND-SO will be there? MAYBE HE/SHE WILL READ MY SCRIPT!

Oy. This is a pernicious and slippery slope. We’ve all done it, the nerves, the desperate feeling… It doesn’t even feel good to think about, right?

Let’s forget that kind of networking. Let’s call it something else.

Let’s call it Relationship Building.

Relationships have two basic building blocks: shared interests and reciprocity. Relationships are the framework within which we share valuable resources, services and information. Relationships are reciprocal – we benefit mutually.

Think of your day-to-day life. You need a lift somewhere, or a cup of sugar, or the name of a good dentist. Who do you call? No – not Ghostbusters, smarty pants – you call friends or family members and ask for help. People with whom you have a relationship. Who do they call when they need help baking a pie or changing their oil or choosing a good vet? You.

“It takes a village” is not a cliché; it is fundamentally important to our well-being and happiness as humans. Not to go all Jared Diamond on you, but man evolved away from being solitary from hunter/gatherers, subject to every whim of nature when
we settled down into a cooperative lifestyle in which we exchanged goods and services.  For thousands of years, humans have lived in a shared economy, an eco-system, if you will, of resources, services and information. It’s how we not only survived but how we flourished. We need each other.

As writers, this is especially true. Writing can be a very isolating occupation, filled with long hours and frustrations. Both the world of Hollywood and traditional publishing can seem like exclusive clubs to which you do not belong. So you wait, standing in line in the rain. How do you get in?

“It’s who you know” does not mean simply that you have met a person who might be advantageous to you, therefore you “know” them and they now help you. That isn’t how it works. That is not relationship building, that is just rude.

Let’s take it back to what we know – in our normal lives:  When a friend or acquaintance – someone who’s company you have enjoyed even just a little bit, asks a favor of you, generally, if you can, you do it gladly, right? I do. If it’s someone else – well, we’re all busy, right?

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Another truism. Truisms are called truisms for a reason. If I help you bake that pie, that’s money in the bank for me in two ways: 1) It gives me pleasure to help someone I like and 2) I know that when I need help, I can ask you. And I know for sure I will need help at some point – we all do.

It’s how we humans are wired – for cooperation and reciprocity. Relationship building is mutually beneficial.

So forget networking. A pox on it!

Build relationships with other writers.

Go to events
Bring a business card
Talk with people – actually talk with them
See if there is a favor you can do for someone else
Get to know people who are on your same level or above
Consider mentoring a writer who is starting out (don’t forget another truism of Hollywood: Today’s assistant is tomorrow’s executive).

Apply the same relationship building skills with other writers that you do in your home and your office. Reciprocity, cooperation, sharing of resources.

Relationship building is like dating: you have to kiss some frogs and there will be missed opportunities. That’s okay. There will be other chances.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things like this will happen:

You will stumble upon people who only take. Dump them.
You will stumble upon people who do not share your interests or trajectory at all.
You will stumble upon people who are simply not interested in you. That’s okay.
You will stumble upon a GREAT connection – at the wrong moment. Let it go.

Recently, a client of mine wrote a great one-hour drama pilot. I mean – really great. So I hooked him up to have lunch with an HBO/Showtime producer, an NBC/Universal fellow, and a writer on Netflix’s From Dusk Til Dawn. These are all my friends and they are happy to meet this new writer. Because I wrote that letter of recommendation to NBC/Universal. Because I have sent many good scripts to the producer. Because I helped get that writing gig. And my friends have helped me, too, in many ways. All I ask when I connect people to my connections is that they join that circle of giving themselves.  Circle of giving – not circle of taking. Nobody wants to belong to a group of people like that.

When our very own beloved Richard Botto asked me to write an article about relationship building for Stage 32, I did not hesitate for a split second. Because I believe in what Richard does – community building. And because Richard is my friend. He was there for me during a very tough time in my life – you don’t forget those kinds of things.

You’ll find that most people are actually very generous with their time, their resources and their connections – people love helping other people. It’s scientifically proven.

In the world of writing, especially writing for entertainment, which is so collaborative, relationships areeverything.  It’s how you hear about those opportunities before anybody else has heard of them, it’s how you get that recommendation or those great notes. It is how you get introduced to people who are interested in your work.

But relationships don’t happen overnight and they will not blossom at all if you are not patient, sincere and generous yourself.

Here are some common sense guidelines:

1. Meet liked minded people; go to events, participate online, get out there.
2. Primarily think about what YOU have to offer someone else (and no, it’s not your script)
3. Give relationships time to build. Check in. Grab a coffee. Have no agenda.
4. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Don’t network – a pox on networking! Build relationships!

Followup News: Booklinker REVERSES advertising policy

Blogging makes a difference!  After reporting on 4th October 2014 regarding Booklinker’s new plan to charge authors a monthly fee to use their links without intrusive advertisements before customers can reach Amazon.com, Booklinker has JUST REVERSED their decision,

“Laurel A. Rockefeller,

This is just a quick email to let you know that we at BookLinker have reversed our decision to use advertising as a means to fund our service.

This means that all BookLinker links are now completely back to the way they were a few days ago – i.e. no advertising whatsoever.

After having reviewed the situation, we are now uninanmously committed to an ad-free BookLinker forever.

Many thanks to those of you who provided us with feedback, and we have already refunded everyone who had already signed up for the premium plan.

It was at least encouraging to realise just how much our service is appreciated!”

 

Will this change my marketing strategy?  Probably not; I already deleted every viewbook.at link address from my files.  But this does represent a clear victory for the power of  our voices.  Change DOES HAPPEN when we band together and say “no” to something.

 

Let us continue to use our voices together to make the market place more fair to everyone, removing all thoughts of competition from our mind and replacing these with a sense of community.  Together we all sell more books.  Together we all make a difference to our world.

Reblog: Is Your Ebook Priced To Sell?

This blog post from 15 September by Molly Greene of BookDaily.com explores the complicated issue of e-book pricing.

 

———————

Whether you’re a self-published author with titles on Amazon or selling a non-fiction book on your website, product pricing is a major component of your marketing plan and income projections. I’m guessing you’ve spent a lot of time considering price point tactics. But let’s face it, the cost of ebooks – both theory and advice – is all over the board. What’s an author to do?

Just before the recent release of my second novel, I went looking for guidance that would help me build a workable pricing and book promotion strategy into my business plan for next year. What I found was surprising: it seems free ebook giveaways are out of favor, and authors who select the 2.99 price point for a well-written novel might be leaving cash on the table. And there’s more. Let’s break it down.

Per Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre, the move away from $1.99 is clear

Publisher’s Weekly ran an article about Kobo Writing Life (KWL) that included a great sound bite about ebook pricing trends from Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations. Per Lefebvre, the $1.99 price point is “dead … not just for us, but also, it seems, on other platforms,” pointing out that 99¢ KWL titles sell twice as many copies as those at $1.99, and that “$2.99 sells more than four times more.” Authors most often start at $2.99 “and walk the prices up,” he said. About 80% of the KWL titles that sell consistently are priced in the $2.99–$5.99 range, and he also pointed to “a bit of a lift in the $7.99–$9.99 price range.”

When you’re deciding on a promotional plan, remember that KWL allows authors to give away titles for free. Authors can distribute to Kobo via Smashwords or publish directly on the KWL platform. For more info, read my Kobo post.

Note this important takeaway: “A low price point may be a hook, but it’s the quality of a work that attracts readers, not the price.”

Per Smashwords’ Mark Coker, authors may be underpricing

Smashwords CEO Mark Coker’s May 2013 Booklovers Convention presentation revealed important points gleaned from his platform’s data. In the presentation he ponders the question, “… is $3.99 the new $2.99?” noting there are “fewer titles to compete against at $3.99, and authors appear to pay no penalty in terms of sales volume.” Per Coker, “I see untapped opportunity [at the $3.99 price point], where indies may be able to raise prices but not suffer unit decline.” He concludes “some authors are underpricing.” Smashwords data also reveals …
• $.99 remains popular, but shows a big drop compared to their 2012 study.
• $.99 to $1.99 underperforms in terms of earnings. (Per Coker, $1.99 is “a black hole.”)
• $2.99 is the most common price point with indies.
• $2.99 to $6.99 is the sweet spot for maximum earnings.
• Indies have virtually abandoned the $9.99 price point compared to 2012’s study.

Note this important takeaway: “Data-driven publishing decisions are irrelevant without a great book. Write the greatest masterpiece you can, and then review the data for ideas that at best might enable you to add incremental improvements to reader enjoyment, accessibility, and word-of-mouth.”

Per author Cheryl Bradshaw, ditch “free” and go with 99 cent promotions

So what’s up with free ebook giveaways? According to author Cheryl Bradshaw, it’s time to leave Amazon’s KDP Select program. “At some point Amazon started changing their algorithms,” she says. “This meant when a book came off the free list, instead of seeing a huge spike (a lower book ranking) as well as a nice increase in book sales, it wasn’t happening … to the extent I’d grown accustomed to, [and] recently I’ve been seeing a meager spike, fewer sales. Maybe short-term, maybe forever, but for me it means it’s time to try something different. In my opinion, a .99 promotion (not all the time, just as a sale) is the sweet spot right now.”

Per Joe Konrath, the case for $3.99 is strong

In February 2013 Joe Konrath wrote, “I have my novels priced at $3.99, my novellas and short story collections at $2.99, my trilogy sets at $9.99, and short stories at 99 cents.”

Link here to read the entire article: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing

Bottom line: There is no one “right” pricing strategy

Miral Sattar, CEO of BiblioCrunch, outlined a trio of author’s pricing strategies in an article published by PBS online. In her final words she notes, “The important thing to remember is no pricing strategy will work if your book isn’t in its best shape. This means having a well-edited, error-free book, an eye-catching cover, and selecting the right categories for discovery.”

Link here to read the article: How to Set the Right Price for Your Self-Published Book

Based on the information above, my conclusion regarding sales strategy might not be earth-shattering news, but here it is, and this will be my strategy in the coming year: • Avoid the $1.99 price point entirely!
• Price previously released (backlist) ebooks at $3.99.
• Scheduling regular .99 cent promotions can help maintain sales of the entire line.
• Pricing newly-released titles higher for a limited period after their initial launch can work well for authors with a loyal readership.
• Most importantly, no pricing strategy will sell a poorly-written, proofed and edited book.

About the Author:
Molly Greene is an author, blogger, and novelist with a preference for reading, writing, and rural life. Her novels include Mark of the Loon and her new release,Rapunzel; nonfiction titles include Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand, and Buy Your Own Roses and other essays (coming in 2014). She blogs about her life and self-publishing topics at molly-greene.com.