By day I work 60 hour weeks. At night I am a devoted father and husband to the world's greatest family. Somewhere in the non-existent time between the two, I am a writer. Join me from the beginning as I chronicle my adventures to become a successful published author.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 57 - Thoughts on a First and Second Novel Release - Writing Wisdom

Today is my first day back from my Independence Day hiatus, and let me tell you, it's tough. The feeling I've experienced in forcing myself to sit down and blog is much akin to that feeling you have on a lazy Saturday morning when you walk near the bed and it reaches out with it's softy, fluffy tentacles of happiness, threatening your day of possible productivity to certain doom. But I have overcome! Okay, let me be honest about that... I was supposed to return yesterday, but felt like I needed one extra day. That was the fluffy tentacles of doom holding me down.

Over the last week, I have thought a lot about how I would succeed as an author. David Farland was one of many who offered some sage information and I thought I would pass on the main points he made about selling eBooks successfully:

1) Write a series of books. You need to keep readers coming back so that you can build an audience. Generally speaking, this means that you will have either a persistent character/persistent world to the series. But you may also be able to write books of a very similar type (romances) where the emotional draws are consistently the same. 

3) Get a lot of books up quickly. It generally takes me up to a year to write a book. It never fails that when I get the novel out, I receive fan mails the day after the books release begging to know, “When is the next one coming out?” You have to have “the next one” up and ready to sell within a week or two. (I’m not kidding on this, folks. It may mean that you’ll need to prepare seven or eight novels before you publish even one!)

6) Don’t ignore your traditional marketing points: a great cover, strong quotes, an intriguing back copy—all of those traditional incentives are still required to sell your books. And make sure that you market your other works on the back end. Make it easy for the reader to get the next books in the series—just by clicking a button.

7) Last of all, you can do all of that and still fail if you don’t go out and market your books aggressively. This means that you have to do things like “blog,” speak in public, do readings at libraries, get press releases out, talk on the radio, and so on. In some genres, authors spend only 30% of their time writing and 70% marketing. That doesn’t sound like much fun to me, but it’s part of the model.

Truth be told, these are exactly the points I was thinking of. It feels good to see my own observations validated by someone a thousand time cooler than I am. The first point is good, as are the sixth and seventh. The best point however I believe is point number three regarding how soon to have the next book available. Here are my thoughts:

1) IF you have done your pre-marketing correctly AND you have written a good novel, THEN some sales must follow.

2) These sales are one off sales for one simple reason: you only have one item to offer them. If it's another year or two before the next novel is released, they will have likely long forgotten all about you. Your one eBook will be lost in the myriad of other one off books they purchased.

3) IF you have a second novel to go literally within a couple weeks, you can tack on a notice to the end of the first book (eBooks allow actual links to get the next in the series...) and you now have not just a one off sale, but a following. Readers didn't forget you, and now they own two books by you, the author, versus the majority where they only own one. They are also more invested in the world and characters, they know it is a series or that you are a regular producer of literature they enjoy, and thus sales magic is born. They won't wonder if a new novel is coming out... they will know it is because it's a series or you've given notice of a similar project.

4) Thus, more books out sooner wins the marathon.

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