This week, the Wicked Writers are getting a free pass to blog about anything we’d like. My topic of choice is selling books versus writing books. I believe it’s possible for an author to do both, but more and more I run into writers who write purely for the love of writing and question my approach.
Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with their way. And thankfully, there are a tremendous amount of platforms today for such writers. I do not fall into that category. I don't have a burning desire to have my name in print for bragging rights at my next high school reunion. Hell, I won’t even see my real name in print but a pen name.
I have a desire to succeed at this business and make money at it. I want to sell books and lots of them, but where does one start? You can't just wish these sales into existence. You must have a plan—a detailed one on what to do and how to achieve your goals. I've recently mapped out a marketing plan, but the more I study the market, the more I realize my plan will have to evolve even more over time.
As in any business venture, you must approach things carefully and examine things from all angles. Good ideas on paper may turn out to backfire and bite you in the butt because of public perception. And what do you do then? You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. No one buys your book because you sell it well. Those are the purchasers who return your book because it was all hype and poorly written.
You must always start with craft and good storytelling. If you can create a story that pulls the reader in and helps to suspend reality, if even for only a few hours, then you have a product worthy of being sold. And that means really and truly working hard to sell it.
Blogs, blog tours, twittering, fan pages, web sites, book tours, author interviews, book reviews—these are only the tip of the iceberg. The sheer work involved with selling will likely daunt and turn away even the staunchest in the industry. After all, with the time you must devote to it, when do you have time to write?
It's a balancing act and one I'm still currently trying to learn. My background in sales and marketing gives me an advantage—but that's like saying someone who sold cars for ten years can now sell life insurance. A good salesman learns to specialize in the industry and in the product they are selling prior to ever making that first sale.
There are a few "sharks" that industry-hop, who do exactly what I described above. But a savvy purchaser knows the difference. They can see past the charm and blinding smile and realize that this sap can't advise on what policy works best for their family's needs and they need to find a rep that can.
The best in any industry starts from the bottom and moves up the ranks. So that's where I am. I'm a new writer who has been a reader her whole life. I love books and I love to read. I don't shop a lot and don't own a bunch of fancy shoes—my sole vice is buying books.
I started as a book consumer and have been a voracious one for years. I started to write when I saw a lack in my favorite genre. Knowing next to nothing about writing, I didn't know writing in present tense was almost taboo among my peers. I didn't switch it to past tense because frankly, I didn't know enough about writing to do it well.
Now, I've learned more. I've finished my book. I've developed a loyal following among readers and I've acquired an agent. From the outside looking in, it may seem like I've been lucky and this has all come together quickly. Eight to ten hours a day of work with no pay is not lucky. I'm starting at the very bottom, learning as much as I can, making mistakes along the way and determined not to make them again.
I intend to learn enough about this industry to sell well and succeed. Does that mean I won't fall a few times? No. I'm sure I will. But anything in life worth having doesn't come easy. The pros just make it look like it does.
How many of you out there have an interest in the path I've taken and in the one I plan to take in the future? How many of you would like me to write a detailed, step-by-step primer on what I've done to see if it’s useful to your own journey? Let me know. If there is enough interest, perhaps I can do a special supplement and post it here.