If you are a writer, as most readers of this blog are, you were at one time or are currently involved in a writing group of some sort. Think of the people in your critique group, peers in a writing program at college, or people you meet at publishing conferences. You may or may not yet be in a position where you are selling your book(s). However, being surrounded by other writers puts the pressure on everyone to buy.
Buy my book.
I’ve heard it a lot and I know I will continue to hear it. No one has ever said to me, “Oh, you like short stories? I wrote a short fiction collection.” Naturally I would inquire about buying it.
Instead I have a heavy bookshelf of books I’ve bought from writers in my groups and at conferences with no intention of every reading them. Just because I read does not mean I am your ideal reader. (Don’t feel bad if you come across your book in a used bookstore with an inscription to me!) I feel by buying their book that in some small way I am helping them along their writing journey.
Before you publish you need to figure out your intention. Do you intend to push your book on individuals who are not your prime readership just to make a sale? Let’s find out:
- Is your main goal in publishing to make money? This may seem like a quick yes, but over the past few months I’ve met a handful of writers who are not interested in publishing for profit. However, the majority of writers do want to earn an income from their books. Did you know Amazon has an affiliate program that allows you to earn money from sales that were made as a direct result of traffic from your links? As of this writing, Amazon states you can earn up to 8.5% back on book sales made through Amazon Associates. Sharing your book via Twitter? Use the link generated in your Amazon Associates account. Adding links to your books on your website? Use the AA link. Sending a link to friends/family? You got it. Amazon takes such a huge chunk as it is, you deserve to retain as much profit as possible.
- Is your main goal in publishing to have your stories read? I mentioned above the growing number of writers who come to me and just want people to read their work, they don’t care about sales numbers. Well, unless you instruct a class and test your “readers” – there is no way to monitor who is actually reading your book. What can you do? If you want to make your book easy-to-read and enticing to a mass audience, you need to go digital. According to Pew Research Center:
The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Using a broader definition of e-content in a survey ending in December 2011, some 43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.
- Is your main goal in publishing to preserve someone’s legacy? Some writers just want to showcase their grandmother’s life story. She may not have been an extraordinary person, but their grandchild wanted to pen a tribute to her, publish, and share with their family. Publishing for private purposes is a great way to preserve family history for generations to come. These projects don’t necessarily rely on fantastic cover art since the product is for family, but some writers choose to make the work publicly available. When doing so, show others how they can preserve their family legacy. Teach classes. Write magazine articles. Perhaps you create a YouTube channel or private online media space where you record relatives telling their stories via audio or video. Although non-family readers may not be as interested in your grandmother’s ho-hum life, they can look to you as a leader in this area and you get to share grandma’s life in your examples.
On Saturday, February 7th I am instructing Book Publishing and Marketing at Glenda Beall’s Writer Studio in Western North Carolina. The above just skims the surface of everything we’ll cover. If you live near Asheville, in eastern Tennessee, North Georgia, or feel like traveling to the area from afar – read more at the link and register directly with Writers Circle Around the Table.