Saturday, February 20, 2016

#1 Rule for Independent Publishing Success

Since the book is getting closer and closer to release, I've been doing a lot of research on how to actually succeed at self-publishing.

Now, I know that it's all ebook sales or print-on-demand these days, so even selling one copy is "success" of a sort.  That's comforting and all, but I, for one, don't want to stop there.  Books are made to be read, and I'd like to get this thing into the hands of as many people as possible so that they can enjoy it too.

So, recently I've been reading all this advice from blogs, books, ebooks, articles, and so on until my eyes bugged out.  In doing so I've got quite a laundry list of advice (a good chunk is even contradictory).  Being the nerd I am, I wanted to distill it all down to its essence; to one concise statement that can cover the smaller tips and even more that nobody has thought of.

What I cam up with was this:
Publicity gets the snowball rolling, but quality keeps it going.

Some things I have to say about that.  

First, "publicity".  I'd say most independent authors fail here because:
  A) It seems tackiness and commercialism to go around tooting your horn, demanding attention.
  B) We just don't want to.  We want to write, not sell stuff.

Sadly, however, it is necessary.  If nobody hears about our book, nobody will buy it.  Simple as that.
We need to make the rounds: 
  • Send out advance copies to reviewers in radio, blogs, newspapers, and magazines
  • Do interviews, talk to people, hand out business cards
  • Do promos, advertise
  • Generally tell everyone and everything that will listen, "I've got a book, and it's AWESOME!"
"Quality"  All the best advertising in the world might get an initial spike in sales, but soon those bad Amazon reviews start pouring in, and people certainly won't tell their friends.

Most independents think they are good on this.  But we're wrong.

Two big things that come up over, and over, and over again are:
  • Professional quality book cover (including description and title)
  • Having one or more actual, professional edits.
The biggest mistake: cutting corners and thinking, "I can do it myself and save some money".  Not true! 

Think of a book as a business venture (this applies equally to both things above).  We need to plan to invest appropriately in it if we hope to make money off it.

Finally, "Snowball" is where it all comes together.  You know, like in the cartoons how the snowball starts small at the top of the hill and then sticks to more and more snow as it rolls down, becoming a comically gigantic boulder.  Books are like that too.  

I hit on it a little above, but word-of-mouth is really what keeps the thing going.  (And quality = word-of-mouth.)  Think about it.  Even the best advertising is really only reaching the person who sees it and chooses to act.  Much more valuable is when the person who reads it tells all of their friends.

If things go really well, you get the exponential effect:  I read the book and tell two friends, they each tell two friends, etc, etc.  Pretty soon you have a runaway nuclear reaction.  (I mean that in a good way, of course.)

So that's what I came up with.
Now comes the hard part for me -- doing it!

Live YOUR adventure!
  -E.L. Fletcher

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is it God's Will? Really?

So you want to "live your adventure" as somebody we know keeps saying.

So you've read some of my earlier posts and determined to back it up by a sound Biblical outlook to choose to do something that actually makes sense in the context of God's Grand Design.

Great!  But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.  Like Tolkein said,
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
One small step for man, one giant leap of faith for Hobbitses. :)

But how does one know what is the Will of God, and what is just noise?  That's where things start to get difficult.

Don't you wish God was like a Magic 8-Ball(tm)?  "Should I take that job in Pasadena?"  Give the ol' Bible a shake... a thingy floats to the top "Signs point to 'Yes'."   Well, okay then!

It doesn't work like that.  Sorry, I've got no concrete answers for you.
What I can offer instead are some really valuable pointers I've learned along the way.

First point:  The Word of God.  The more you read the Bible, the more you start to understand how God operates.  Jesus said:
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
The mind of God... his plans, what He's like, how He operates... all right there for us to read.

Second: The spirit of God.  For your homework, read 1 Corinthians chapter 2 sometime.
In more nuts-and-bolts terms, this is one of those things that grows with practice.  The "still, small voice" of God's Holy Spirit is something that takes practice to listen for.  Daily prayer, as well as the Christian disciplines of fasting and meditation are all important.

This all goes hand-in-hand in with the first point, too.  The two parts magnify and play off of one another.  As does the third.

Third: The people of God.

Proverbs has a lot of things to say about seeking out as much council as you can get.  But there's are caveats:
  • All council is not Godly council.
  • Don't choose your council based on what you want to hear. (Yeah, I know that trick.  Frankly, not so clever.)
  • Often people lean toward giving the most socially acceptable answer, rather than the correct answer.
Third (again):  Make decisions with people in mind.  Maybe God would rather have you treat people right than take on some grand scheme to save the furry-footed burrowers.

Phil Vischer's new puppet video Mission to Sector 9 is about that exactly.
"When in doubt: choose love", the main character learns.  A bit over-simplistic, perhaps, but the truth is God's Kingdom is about PEOPLE.  Christ died for PEOPLE.  We must learn to care most about what God cares most about... PEOPLE!!!

Finally one more bonus point to really throw a money in the wrench.
(Flowing from #3, it came from one of the guys from a Mens' Bible study I'm a part of.  So there's the tie-in.)

Anyway, he challenged us with, "When the choice is 'go' or 'stay', why do we treat 'stay' as the default case?  Maybe the whole reason the idea was placed in our brain to start with, is because 'go' is the answer!"

It definitely puts a new twist on things.  Still run the idea through all the standard checkpoints above, but maybe lean more towards accepting what takes you out of your comfort zone.  For example:  "Does God's Word have any reason why I should NOT go?",  "Do reliable Christians around me have a valid reason why I should NOT do this?", etc.

So I hope all that helps to point you in the right direction with the next big decision you're to encounter on this road of adventure.

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Pinnable image: