This week, a statement in Hugh Howey’s blog, Renting vs. Owning, hit home for me. Howey states that many writers still believe that traditional publishers do most of the promotion and marketing. I realized how right he was when I gave a workshop (mentioned in last week’s blog) on landing a book contract.
I explained to attendees how authors are expected to do a variety of tasks that include everything from arranging book signings, to creating their own website, to paying for conferences, and buying copies of their own book at a discount. This was an eye-opener to most of them and unwelcome news for some who later told me they had no desire to do all that promotion and marketing.
In his blog, Howey claimed that, although both traditional and self-published authors work hard, the traditionally published do it because they have to while self-publishers do it because they want to. Huh? That’s not what I’ve heard.
I’ve spoken with many self-publishers who work hard because they have to, because they know no one else will do it for them. Trust me, like traditional authors, indie authors would much rather be writing the next book. If they work harder than traditionally published authors, it's because they are eager to recoup money spent on production costs. Others are hoping for at least a little profit. Most have become realistic enough to understand that they won’t make a living at this right away. Sure, some indie writers do, but they are still in the minority.
Aside from asking yourself what you want to write in the first place, the next most important question is how much time, energy, and money you’re willing to invest in promoting and marketing, regardless of how your book will be published? If you don’t know the answer, do some soul searching. Ask yourself, if you’d be happy selling just fifty copies? Do you want to sell five hundred? Five thousand? Five million? You’ll need to tailor your plan according to your goals and your lifestyle. Certainly, an author with young kids at home and/or a demanding full-time day job simply won’t have time for all-out seven-day-a-week promoting. Realistic expectation is as important to success as talent, tenacity, and marketing skill.
Regardless of how busy your life is, though, there is always something you can do to move your plan forward. The most counter-productive thing you can do is to publish your book, then have no idea what to do next. Based on some of the forums I belong to, there is still far too much of that happening.