Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Survivor or Darwinian Marketing?

Some rambling thoughts on the future of book reading and author marketing...

Coming Feb 5, 2016
I’m a hybrid author, with books out through a few traditional (and one non-traditional) presses as well as some titles I’ve released myself. My sales rise and fall, seemingly on the fate of the wind, though my marketing efforts are consistent and expanding.

The population who read mystery and romantic suspense are aging. Macular degeneration and other reading-related issues are game-changers, as are other long-term health issues with readers or the parents they are suddenly tending. Mystery fans are loyal, though, so the challenge is to keep them aware you’re out there without annoying them with too many “buy me! Buy me!” messages.

Print books are here to stay. So are ebooks. Having multiple book formats (including audio) helps authors access readers on all platforms.

The DIY pressure on indies is immense. I put out a new title in 2015 and I’ll release another book in 2016. You can’t skip any steps or your product will suffer. A strong, well-edited story is what you want to bring to market. The cover needs to be awesome in an eye-catching, provocative kind of way. Formatting needs to be spot on, and typos must be invisible to man and machine. Then there’s the whole selection of keywords for the web crawlers and readers to use to locate your books. This is more important than you might think. And finally, getting the word out in a friendly, compelling way. It’s no wonder authors farm some of this out. It’s a lot of time and effort to get a high quality book out there.

Some indies and some pre-published authors will say to heck with this and spend more time with their grandkids. I mean, who hasn’t had those thoughts?

The rest of us, the ones who’ll go crazy if we don’t get these story people out of our heads, will hunker down and find a way to survive. How do I know this? Easy. I’ve been doing it for a few years now and so have you. We will continue to network through great resources like SINC, and we are stronger because of the ties we form, the alliances we make for marketing.
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SIDEBAR: anyone here a Survivor TV show fan? This year the strategy changed from alliances with a few trusted associates to voting blocks, where people scrambled around and voted independently  when it suited their solo purposes. The publishing world to me is like the game of Survivor. Whether we use alliances or voting blocks to command market share, we are pooling efforts, melding audiences, and benefiting from cross-promotion. Something to think about if you haven’t already. And good luck to all our authors and readers in 2016.

Maggie Toussaint
aka Rigel Carson
G-3 by Rigel Carson coming Feb 5
http://www.RigelCarson.com

34 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Maggie. Still struggling to find my way, and it's not from lack of trying.

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    1. Don't you ever stop and think "it should be easy by now"? I have those thoughts, especially this time of year! Thanks for the visit.

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  2. You're absolutely right, Maggie. The world of the writer is no longer simply a matter of producing a finished ms for an agent or editor to review. It's remarkable how well writers have adapted, but for some of us, as you point out, it's not really a choice. We're driven to write and share our stories.

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    1. We are adapting, Susan. That's the mystery to me. How so many of us seem to be able to go with the flow. We must all want this - a lot!

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  3. Interesting observations. And I agree that we need to find allies to survive - even if it's just getting through the mental games of bad reviews and rejection letters. Other authors are the only ones who understand some of the things we go through!

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    1. Agreed. There's nothing like having a hotline to your peers when stuff happens. Family members and neighborhood friends are supportive and encouraging, but only another author understands these particular shifting trenches. Thanks for stopping in, Katie.

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  4. You raise some very interesting points and some hard truths.
    Great post.
    Good luck and God's blessings!
    PamT

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Pam. I think this process must be easier for folks who write in one genre. But for those of us who blend genres or write in multiple genres, there's a multiplier effect of learning curves. Sheesh!

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  5. Boy, you're so right about the publishing world. It sure ain't the way it was when I started. That's kind of good and kind of bad, but I (and, evidently, you) are either too stupid or too stubborn to quit. Good luck to us all, I say!

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    1. We're on the same zany road trip, Alice. Good luck to ya!

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  6. As someone who's spent the better part of the day working on that book description, choosing the best categories and keywords ... I hear you! It's especially scary when you launch a new series.

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    1. Nothing like stark fear to narrow your focus! I'm sure your description will be amazing, Terry!

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  7. It can definitely be frustrating and disenchanting, but I guess we write because something in us makes us do it. Or at least I keep telling myself that. Good post, Maggie.

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  8. 2012,2013, 2014 great years for Indie.
    2015 was the year of the BOX and then is it downhill?

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    1. Good wrap-up, Mona. I agree with your observations.

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  9. Publicity and promotion for writing are difficult at best. We writers really just want to write and leave that part of it to the publishers. Unfortunately these days unless you're with a Big Five pub so much of this is left to the author. Not an easy task!

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  10. It's thanks to author friends like you and to reader feedback that I'm driven to keep writing.

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    1. Encouragement is always wonderful for writers. I'm delighted to know you and thank you for all of your encouragement!

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  11. Excellent points. I'll add that several people tell me their eyesight, including glaucoma problems, have driven them to e-books.

    Here's to surviving!

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    1. The thing I love about ebooks is that I can adjust the font size up and I don't have to wear reading glasses. Those glasses are a new reality for me and print books. Sigh. Aging is happening to all of us!

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  12. Bestselling authors have to work as hard as we do. No rest for the writer. You know we will keep writing, because that's what we do. And we'll publish in as many ways as we can to get out books into the hands of readers.

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    1. I admire your outlook and self-confidence, Holly. And I totally agree with you. Thanks for stopping by Mudpies.

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  13. While I think there is always a need for a print book, thus I will always produce one, the e-book is the more marketable in my estimation. As a professor, my students are pretty much only digital. In fact, more and more textbooks are coming out this way.

    Staying on this mode, I think word count is also interesting. Traditional publishers still want books over 350 words (at min.). My students don't want to read a book much larger than 200. I find many senior adults with this preference as well.

    Great blog!

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    1. I'm thinking you meant pages instead of words, DJ. I have writer friends who are pubbing both novellas and novels. They are making more on the novellas. One gal sold 10,000 copies of a novella last year. Pretty nice for an indie author who doesn't pay for advertising.

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  14. You nailed it. I'm a hybrid author too and your post totally resonates.

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    1. Good to hear, Casi. Thanks for chiming in. Please come again!

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  15. Very thoughtful post. As one who doesn't have many funds to do marketing, I have to select my methods carefully.

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    1. I hear you, Ilona. Dedicating a portion of our resources to marketing is daunting. What's even harder is not knowing what will give us the maximum return. So glad you stopped by!

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  16. I think indie ebook authors will be a bit Darwinian. Yes, the last few years were skyrocket years, depending on the genre, but now things will start evening out more and the flash-in-a-pan authors will fall by the wayside while the strongest keep running uphill and therefore come out with the victory. At least this is what I have to believe, being indie published for over 12 years now and heading toward hybrid status.

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    1. Indie and hybrid are a good fit for many of us. I find it hard after about as many years in the biz as you to put all my eggs in the same basket. There's only one thing you can count on: change! Thanks for stopping in, LK.

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  17. Being an indie author isn't easy. I keep telling myself I'm in it just so at least I can share my books with a few people. Still, I want more, but it's all very time-consuming!

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  18. I hear you, Morgan. Here's a problem I've identified. Typos multiply in the dark. must be some crazy party with the computer mouse and the keyboard when they think we're not watching. It's funny how some authors switch back and forth from houses to indie and then back to publishing houses. I think they must do it to spend more time on writing. We all wish we had more time!

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