Thursday, January 22, 2015

Publishing Strategy for Independent Authors

Dear Fellow Writer,

Thanks for being a subscriber. I know it's sometimes hard to stay focused when there's so much information coming at you all the time these days.

I'm glad you still like hearing from me!

Being a full time writer is great - as long as you're committed and totally believe that what you do makes a difference.

Getting lost in the creative flow is what it's all about. But often we have other considerations when we let our work go to see how it fares in the marketplace.

In today's article we look at how you might stay ahead of the competition (including those signed to legacy publishers) as an independent author in the new millennium.

Keep writing!

Publishing Strategy for Indie Authors

Publishing Strategy for Indie Authors

One great way of preparing yourself for the release of your next book as an independent author is to have a pretend strategy meeting with yourself every two or three months.

 If you had a legacy publishing deal and an agent, you'd most likely have regular meetings to discuss your ongoing books.

 You would meet to discuss you progress, possible release dates, and how your newest book might fit in with the growth of your career and the needs of the publishing company's marketing department.

 If you're an independent online author, you'll likely need to conduct an imaginary meeting with yourself to iron out some of the same issues.

 Okay, so the meeting is an intellectual exercise - but no less valid for that. 

Hold the meeting with your partner if he or she is interested. 

Engage the help of a fellow author to bounce ideas off, or, if all else fails, conduct the meeting with yourself. 

Any such meeting will stand you in good stead for your future career.

 Write up an agenda for the meeting - listing the points up for discussion.

             1. How's the writing going? (Because you're probably not done yet!)

            2. How commercial is the project? (And can you make it more so.)

            3. What issues need 'fixing'? (Characters, Plot, Structure, etc.)

            4. How long will that take?

            5. Thoughts on cover design. 

            6. Scheduling a release date.

            7. Marketing ideas.

            8. Beta readers.

            9. Possible reviewers.

            10. And so on.

 In the publishing world it's not unusual for these meetings to be long and complex. It's also not rare that they are conducted without the author present.

 Count yourself lucky you can attend your own meeting!

 In the publishing world, I've known these meetings to happen three to six monthly - until the author finally makes the changes the agent, publisher, and most importantly, the marketing people, want.

 One (now popular) author I know went through TEN YEARS of these meetings until she finally presented all the interested parties with a manuscript they thought was worth publishing and promoting.

 She described those ten years to me as a thoroughly hellish experience. That is, until the book became a bestseller - thereby proving to everyone involved that it was worth all that work and effort to get it just right.

As an independent author you can of course circumvent the need to please an army of people that have little to do with the writing of the book, but it's worth bearing in mind that publishers often take great care over releasing a new book simply because a perfectly-honed manuscript and book-package with the right cover that hits the marketplace at exactly the right time can create a bestseller in a way that is very hard for an indie author to emulate.

 In your own, imaginary, meeting you need to honestly appraise your place in the market.

 Is your manuscript, in its current incarnation, up to competing with what's out there?

 If not, why not?

Does it have the right title?

Is the subject matter compelling/different?

Do the characters/concepts work?

Does the idea/premise/story make sense?

Is it a big enough concept with an easily identifiable hook?

Is the book good enough to compete?

What more does it need?

Does it need paring back?

What can go?

What kind of cover should the book have to compete in the right genre?

What kind of promotion does the book need?

How will it reach its target audience?

 These and more questions of your own making are all on the table during your faux meeting.

 Now, don't worry too much about this pretend meeting. 

Don't fret that perhaps you haven't thought of everything or that maybe, after your initial analysis, you don't think you have a book worth promoting.

 That's to misunderstand the process and purpose of the meeting.

 Remember that publishers conduct these meetings every day and still find it hard to create bestsellers!

 But the fact that you have even considered your own book in a professional light will put you streets ahead of the dozens of other authors who will release their books onto Amazon and Kindle at the same time as you - without any real thought to what they're doing.

 Actually caring about where you stand in relation to the marketplace, and writing quality books that will stand the test of time, is at least half the battle when it comes to selling books to new readers.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sherlock Holmes: Zombie Slayer

Midweek Update

Dear Fellow Writer,

You may remember my newsletter from Friday - but I know that was an age ago!

Amazon has finally approved my latest book for release:

It's an extended short story based on Conan-Doyle's immortal characters, including Dr. John Watson and Moriarty, even Stamford - the person allegedly responsible for introducing the good doctor to the 'greatest living detective'.

It's interesting because Amazon's main criticism to me was that they believed the language and diction I'd used to when writing the story was so authentic to the original tales, they were convinced I had unearthed an actual Conan-Doyle story that must be somewhere in the public domain.

I had to point out that as far as I knew, Holmes had never previously been known to battle the undead on Hampstead Heath. I even had to show them my original manuscript notes, dated 2014, in order to 'prove' to them that the story was, in fact, my own.

After much back and forth - which is unusual when dealing with Amazon, because they're normally so helpful - they relented on the condition I make it plain I am the author. That way it would be clear the work was original and not a public domain property, they said.

Amazon apparently has rules about publishing public domain works: you're not supposed to profit from books that are available free somewhere. I'm not sure how this works in practice because lots of public domain works are for sale on Amazon. Shakespeare's plays,The Elements of Style and The Complete Sherlock Holmes to name but three!

Anyway, Sherlock Holmes: Zombie Slayer is a labor of love for me and, I hope for you, a rollicking good read.

Currently 70 pages long, I plan to expand the story into a massive novel - but only if I can get enough people interested in the idea!

Go HERE to get your own copy - while it's still less than ONE dollar in the US and 99 pence in the UK.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell


The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!