Monday, July 7, 2014

Author Beware - Publishing Is Big Business

The ebook market is growing stronger every day.  It's yours for the taking. 

Are you to blame if you’re not selling the volume of ebooks “they” all say you should or could sell?

Here's what they'll tell you when you start to unveil the truth about how tough the market is:

"Your marketing lacks focus." 

“You haven’t found the right reader group.” 

"People who KNOW about books are telling you that your site isn't as clear and obvious as you think it is."

"Your tag line is waaay too long.”

Or this one:   "I say this with kindness - you seem too emotionally attached to your website. Maybe because the blog portion is so personal to you? In order for your website to drive traffic and sales, you must separate yourself from it." 

That’s what I heard from those in publishing last week after I wrote on this blog my experience with the digital book market . . . how I ran promotions, mastered social media, developed marketing strategies, and wrote well-received memoirs by those who study the genre, yet struggle to earn more than the luxury of an iced latte a month at Starbucks.  

This past weekend I met with a friend and fellow writer and told her about my blog post – So much (little) for digital bestsellers, which referenced a NY Times op ed by a journalist who made very little to no money off her ebook once she calculated the time and effort that went into it.

The blog post  generated 20 'shares' on Google+ . . . 300 views in five days, and apparently hit a nerve among some in publishing who on LinkedIn contended that my lack of sales was my fault.

My friend just smiled. “They tear you down to make money."

She shared with me this story.  About 15 years ago, she hired an editor from California. The woman edited her novel, which was about witches

"She put me through six or seven revisions, only to say it still needs rework. Oh, she was really nasty. I think, if you give them the power, they will still say there’s a problem. Just start out with the original and don’t make all the changes. It saves you a lot of money in the end."

Publishing, my friend said, is “all about connections.” And, for her, it also turned out to be a writer’s worst nightmare. 

She wrote another novel, and found an agent. "He and I worked together for a while, but then he sold the business to a man who didn't really know what he was doing. But I didn't know it at the time," she confessed.  

He sent off the first 60 pages of her manuscript to a big publisher in New York. An editor there had an intern email her with questions about synopsis, plot. 

"This was followed by more questions. I answered them because I thought I was promoting my work, when, in fact, I was giving it away for free," my friend said.  She heard nothing.  Then one day she walked into a bookstore.  There it was.  Her novel.

A very well-known author whose name shall remain anonymous had come out with a new novel that was my friend’s story. 

“Oh, I think she knew the story was stolen,” my friend said of the author. “Worse, she and others probably do this all the time to people.”

What happened sent her into depression for years.  Her fiction writing career had been robbed.

"I want to tell my story," my friend said.  "What happened to me still goes on all the time. I don't want anyone else to have to go through it."

Publishing is a big business.  You've heard it before, but let me say again - Author beware.

I want to go back to why I got into writing this blog, and writing my memoirs four years ago this July.

I wrote because I wanted my writing to go out into the world. If it could enrich others, then I had accomplished what I set out to do. And I believe I did. And will continue to do so.

What I’d like to say to everyone struggling  to sell books is this. Speak up loud and often about the writing process and why you write – or any of the other things you are experiencing with publishing, finding an agent, trying to break into a business that is not only incredibly difficult, but, at times, lacks honesty and integrity. 

Speak up if you encounter those in the business who have an agenda, are out for themselves . . . lie. Sharing our experiences, as well as our advice and insights, helps us all. 

I love what author Sharon Lippincott wrote last week on this blog:  

"My experience with last year's volumes, "The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description" and "Adventures of a Chilehead" has been much the same with one difference. My initial promotion was minimal and I've done no give-aways, yet sales trickle in each month. $9 here and $23 there do add up. My personal philosophy is that I write because I love and need to write, and those who are intended to read it will find it."

Meet your readers at signings, book fairs, conferences, and talks.  I'm hoping to meet soon with a small group of breast cancer survivors to talk about my healing journey that became Again in a Heartbeat.  

Don’t let anyone get away with, “You’re doing it all wrong." 

FOOTNOTE:  Several of the suggestions from those on LinkedIn as to how I could improve this site and my author visibility were made on this website early last week. To date, it has not resulted in one additional ebook sale.  More to come as I try additional marketing strategies.

As always your thoughts, comments, experiences and insights are welcomed.

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