The E-Book Experiment: Basic Business

I want to share my writing. But, I also want to be able to make a living, or at least a partial living, while doing it.

That dream has two parts:

Share the storytelling.

AND

Paid to continue producing.

Sharing would be easy. Create a web site and start posting, while also posting it on various archives around the internet for original fiction. The second part of the dream means money and the ability to sell comes into the equation.

A sorry truth: Life always becomes more complicated when money is involved.

If we’re going to talk about selling, then that means a business is involved, even if that business is your career as a content producer. To approach this without the basics of business is a sure-fire way to fail in a spectacular manner.

So, since I want to start up my career on a solid foundation that means approaching all of this like a business. As I’ve been in the business world my entire adult life, I’m not a complete newbie about this.

So, let’s talk business.

There are a few basics that every company hoping to sell something must know and watch out for. The biggie is:

Know your customer and market.

This is crucial if you are going to first find, and then keep, a customer.

If you don’t have a customer then you will not sell a product. With no sales, the business is dead. End of life, next quarter please.

In basic terms this means knowing what the customer wants, the quality standard they will accept, providing it at a price they are willing to pay in places they can easily find it, being able to continue to produce more product to sell, and flexibility to adjust to new market conditions.

If there is a breakdown at any of the above steps, then the business will have trouble.

Let’s break this down into specific points:

  • If you don’t know what the customer wants, then you aren’t going to find a customer base for your product.
  • If the quality is low, then the customer will find a product that does have the quality. There is too much quality out there for them to put up with bad quality.
  • If it’s not a price the customer is willing to pay, they will go with another product that they are willing to pay.
  • If a customer has to hunt down your product, many times they will instead switch to what they CAN easily find. For many people time is money.
  • Keep a good relationship with your wholesale/product resources. If you don’t have a product to sell, you don’t have a business.
  • If something doesn’t work, YOU CHANGE. You must be flexible to new market conditions to survive.

I want to say again: Publishing is a business! As much a business as it is ‘art’ and ‘craft’. Ignore one in favor of the other at your peril.

So, let’s explore the above points and how they might apply to the publishing industry of today (and hopefully not turn this into another rant). As this has turned rather long, each point will be its own post.

In the meantime, I’m sure I haven’t remembered all the points. If you think of more, put them in the comments, please!

NOTE: For basic career tips and guidelines focused towards authors, I recommend three big resources: Dean Wesley Smith “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” series, Kristine Kathryn Rusch “Freelancer’s Survival Guide”, and J.A. Konrath “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing”.

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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will if fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

The E-Book Experiment: An Intro

I had a big long post to start this off, and then I realized it was a rant about the traditional publishing industry. And that wasn’t supposed to be the point of it.

So, I’m starting again.

I’m a writer. An author. A STORYTELLER.

I started to learn to read early because I was fascinated by these wondrous marks on paper that others would read to me. Stories! These marks were always the same and could be read! Then I realized my mother was using these strange marks to write her own! Oh, wow. I had to get into that. I wanted to read them on my own and, even then, before kindergarten, I wanted to WRITE my own.

When my class started using Dick and Jane to teach reading and writing (I had a head-start on that class), while the rest of the class was working on the shapes and the sounding-out of the words, my little pea-picking head was looking with scorn at these stories, declaring, “I can write a story better than THIS!”

Sound familiar? Anyone having flashbacks of reading a book and then throwing it across the room saying the same thing? I was just a little ahead of most people on that. πŸ˜‰

And it hasn’t stopped since then.

I have always wanted to make a living telling stories that others enjoyed. As time went on, and I continued to study the industry, it became clearer that it was becoming harder and harder for the CONTENT producers in the industry to make a living.

Which has been sad. It’s made my heart sick at times. The dream I’ve had since before starting school was almost impossible from the very start as I’ve never been delusional enough to think I would be one of those special people to get one of the lucky break 5-6 figure book contracts.

But, times and the technology are changing.

I’ve been in the business world a long time now. For the past several years I’ve been approaching my writing like a business, in that I’m making actual business plans and have a writing schedule. And the schedule has been working great! I now have product to sell and share.

Now it’s time to do something about the sharing part of the dream, and with it, hopefully, the ‘making a living’ part. After all, this is MY career and no one else’s. To think someone else will help me in building that career is pie-in-the-sky idiocy.

I would like to think I’m smarter than that. πŸ˜‰

Starting now will be a series of posts titled “The E-Book Experiment.” Why it is called that will become clear as the posts go on.

The first part of series will look at business basics and applying them to the publishing world, along with a few basic conclusions. Others may disagree with the conclusions, but hey, that is THEIR career choices. We all have choices to make and live by.

Then the series will progress to the meat of it: the writing.

I’m looking forward to this, even though it may mean I need to adjust my 5 Year Writing Business Plan. But I’m hoping this will mean adjustment in a good way!

Stay tuned for the next part!

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“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will if fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

Inkygirl Outline Poll Results Are In!

A while ago Inkygirl posted a poll about whether writers outlined before they started to write. I responded along with 108 other writers, and the results are now in! 48% said they used an outline. 29% said no, and 32% said it’s too complicated for just a yes/no answer.

Hop on over to “Better To Outline Or Not To Outline? Some Survey Responses” to read some of the responses from the survey.

And I’m the second one from the top! How exciting!

:waves at Zette:

Goal Setting For Writers – Do YOU Have one?

Bob Mayer Posted “Goal Setting For Writers” at Genreality yesterday. This year of writing for me has been all about goals. Making them, working towards them and achieving them. Here soon I’m going to take a first look at how I compare to the 5 Year Plan I posted a while back. See where I’m at towards achieving it.

Bob talks a little bit more about the specific high-level goals writers should be setting for themselves. I’ll have to mull it over to see if my 5 year plan could use a bit more of that, or be adjusted a bit.

Anyone else have new or revised writing goals?

But, for now, I need a cup of tea and another hour of revision completed today! I have a goal to achieve!

Survived March!

Surviving a month doesn’t sound like much, but it is when you’ve been sick two months in a row. I was already run-down from being sick at the beginning of February, and then I caught the bad cold bug that’s been going around. That wiped me out! Unable to go to work for a week, and then it lingered.

And lingered.

It’s official, I’m sick and tired of coughing!

Only now is the coughing starting to lighten up. You know, with a cold like this, who needs the flu!?!?!

Okay, not quite true. The worst flu I’ve ever had was last November, and that one WAS worse than this cold. But the regular flu? Nah, this cold was worse.

Anyway, despite everything I did manage to finish National Novel Editing Month in March. The goal was to hit 50 hours. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, I managed to win with 94 hours. I’m still trying to figure out how I did that, but the month is lost in a haze of coughing.

Now in healing mode. Even more homemade soups with lots of veggies, an apple at every lunch, a ‘protein drink’ every morning (Not really what it is, but what we call it. Lots of stuff we mix into it). It’s going to take some time to build up again, but it all happens in little steps.

I hope your March went better!