Given the subject of our posts this week – our opinions of the publishing industry – I thought it might be a useful idea to revisit an earlier post I had placed on my own blog. (A blog which has now, to a large extent, lain fallow as I have begun to contribute to Wicked Writers!)
Here I have re-edited Part II of what was a two-part posting. I hope you find its content of interest.
Self publishing 101: Risk Management
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The book is dead? Long live the book?
The launch of any new product into a market, and new novels are no exception, is a question of innovation. Put the hash-tag #innovation into Twitter and follow just how many people discuss this topic, and, importantly, what is being said.
Innovation is the word on the lips of politicians, businesses and consumers looking forward. And the biggest tool in the innovator’s toolbox is the opportunity presented by technology as it continues its rampant charge down the battlefields of commerce. The battlefield that is “Publishing” bears the scars of technology’s stampede! Just look at the launch of the iPad!
As any general will tell you, if you chose to fight on any battlefield you must be mindful of the terrain you face!
I covered Economics 101 for the Self-Publisher in an earlier post. Consider today’s post as Risk Management 101.
A question of risk? Really?
Of course it is. And what do we do about risk, as a budding novelist?
Launching a new product into a market is an investment. It costs. It costs to produce a book. Not just in the time to write it, but in the post-writing production process. If launching a book is to be considered as a business (i.e. authors – as well as Agents and Publishers – need to put bread into their mouths) then what strategies are available to de-risk the enterprise?
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Become a celebrity?
Indeed! Short of (accidentally?) launching one’s child, in a balloon, into the airspace over a major international airport, or entering some mindless get-rich-quick game show, genuine opportunities for gaining instant celebrity status are few and far between. Such a strategy is as useful to the budding author as is hope! And hope is no strategy!
In the risk-reward equation of a product launch, what is at stake is the investment in bringing that product to market. If the product is untried, untested – with an unknown pedigree, it is highly rational to consider only a limited investment at first. But here lies the difficulty faced by the budding new author! The investment required to produce such a seemingly small thing as a new paperback book – that can compete on cost and quality in the market of other paperback books – is out of all proportion to its size. That is, of course, unless a sufficiently large enough quantity can be produced, marketed and SOLD!
This is an economic fact of life! It should not be a surprise to any new, budding author – the economics of starting a writing career just do not add up!
…Unless, of course, you decide to enter the battle!!
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Back to the battlefield, brave hearts!
The stampede of technology has done one critical thing – it has lowered the cost of production of the book! And I am not talking, here, about the capability of digital, print-on-demand, or the use of software to layout and design books at home. No, the biggest single factor in levelling the battlefield – in reducing the costs of production – which is the real boon to the individual budding new novelist, is that technology has redefined what a book is!
The book is dead! Long live the (E)book!
A budding new author who does not consider that an e-book is THE WAY to reduce the level of investment in book production, is missing the point.
At the launch my own first novel, RIVER OF JUDGEMENT, initially on Smashwords, I was thankful that evolution is our constant companion. As our global society becomes increasingly risk averse, as investment in capital-intensive product launches (as a book most certainly is) becomes reserved for “sure-fire” bets (celebrity) and sexy, high-tech panaceas (which a book most certainly is not), evolution provides its own solution. We adapt and survive.
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The low cost of producing an e-book provides a new author with the economic possibility to launch a new product into a real marketplace that has the potential to generate income (and put a few crumbs on the table). It is an opportunity, I would argue, not to be missed. The books of budding new authors can now exist alongside those of the established greats, and on the same terms!! No vanity press need exist in cyberspace – just good quality and bad quality.
Democracy rules, perhaps! So, publish and be damned! Go on, give it a try!