Author Truths for Beginners (Part 7)

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There Is One Born Every Minute & How to Fleece Them.

There are SO many snake-oil-selling salespeople hovering around and feeding on unsuspecting authors that it would be laughable were it not for the authors who get taken for thousands each year by charlatans with lawyers or marketing packages that yield nothing.

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Here is my List of Hungry Zombies Authors Should Avoid:

a) Social media campaigns run by third party promoters who promise your book will be seen by their 100,000 followers, twice per day, seven days a week . . . If by being seen they mean scrolled right over, then there is at least some truth in their claims. It would be interesting to see how many fake followers they have, but who has the time. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 is humming.

b) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ask for money.

c) ANY and ALL so-called reviewers who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You will pay for the books and shipping, only to “mysteriously” begin to see used versions of your book appear on your book’s Amazon page, eBay or craigslist. If reselling your book isn’t already bad enough, they don’t review it either. This group fracked me out of hundreds of dollars. Don’t let it happen to you no matter how legitimate they may appear. They are scammers, plain and simple.

d) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards asking for money.

e) ANY and ALL so-called Book Awards who ONLY accept print books for review. Some demand multiple copies. You see where this is going. There are a few that will give you the award by refining the categories down until you are the only one left in it, but you will probably have to buy into multiple categories—each with its own entry fee—to be sure of becoming an Award-Winning Author.

stock-photo-gold-winners-trophy-with-golden-shiny-stars-721703176Legitimate and meaningful book award organizations have a nomination process which begins with your book being referred to them by a trusted party. You probably will not even know this has happened until

THEY CONTACT YOU.

Hell, if you send me fifty bucks, I’ll give you my exclusive and very prestigious sounding award (because it is in Latin) that will make you an

Insignes Literatura Winning Author

You don’t even have to send me your book, just the money. If you get nine of your author pals to send money as well, I will build a website to legitimize the whole thing to the casual observer.

f) The We Will Handle Everything for You Publicity / Marketing companies will usually do what they claim, as long as your checks keep clearing. Typically, you will find options to suit any wealthy person’s budget, ranging from a basic book launch for $500.00ish to the Hillary plan in the tens of thousands. So, if you have a foundation with your name on it, you are good to go, but no matter which plan you choose, your royalties will never cover the costs. Publicists are for those people who write books to create a secondary revenue stream in support of their primary occupations. The best examples these days are politicians, scientists and celebrities who wish to stay in, or return to, the limelight. These publicity companies are often promoters of trade shows. Do not exhibit your book in EXPOs if you will not be there to network. I rolled the dice on this expense for a $0.00 return. It’s the equivalent of putting your book on a shelf in the Library of Congress for five days; nobody knows you are even there.

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g) ANYBODY who is selling you on the DREAM instead of tangible proven services. Their pitch usually goes something like this: ‘It happened for E. L. James and J. K. Rowling . . . so it can happen for you.’ This one has been known to break the Bullshit-o-Meter 5000.
These examples are anomalies. Forget about them.

h) ANYBODY who is trying to tell you to give away your work for nothing or next to nothing. There are more and more sites popping up everyday promising us that if we pay a small membership fee, mark our books down to where we no longer receive a royalty, and play well with others on the site, we MIGHT get a bunch of new reviews which COULD cause an upswing in sales even after the promo-period ends. My Bullshit-o-Meter 5000 has smoke coming out of it.

If any readers are willing to show me how any of the above mentioned actually grossed more royalties than they cost in either time or quatloos, I will happily print a retraction.
There is no magical formula that will sell any book to every person for little or no money. Marketing is mostly about common sense, or at least it was until the Internet came along.

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Author Truths for Beginners (Part 5)

Doing the work is not optional.

In order to eat occasionally, keep a roof over my head, and keep the dream alive of one day being able to afford cocaine, I work with a variety of very different people who are mostly artistic types who were forced into becoming entrepreneurs. Most fiction authors and performers are creatives—right brain thinkers—who by their very nature have difficulty with the structured environment needed to run a business. In meetings, you can actually see their eyes glazing over as their brain’s dominant right side takes them to a daffodil covered sun-bathed meadow where unicorns run free, and where fairy dust falls from rainbows in an otherwise pure blue sky.

pexels-photo-255339.jpegStarving artists have always existed for a reason.

Artists want to work at their craft to the exclusion of all else. They are only interested in what moves them on an artistic level. This is why they have been exploited throughout history. When it comes to creatives, the more talented they are, the worse they are at focusing on the real-world DETAILS that will give them a fighting chance at success:
Budgeting
Cover photos and graphics
Titles
Subtitles
Blurbs
Author bio
Bibliography
Interior layout
Fonts
Meta data
Categories
Keywords
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
BIC & BISAC subject codes
If you are already phasing, you are probably destined for greatness.
Branding
Image building
Distribution
Marketing
Advertising
Promotion
Events
Appearances
Interviews
Press releases
Publicity
Revenue streams
Websites
Social media management
E-mail campaigns
Targeted marketing strategies
You get the idea.

It’s business-y stuff.

pexels-photo-450271.jpegMany of the authors who come to me for a little help in some of the areas above, are wildly prolific writers who crank out books almost as fast as it takes me to write a blog like this. While I admire and envy them for being singularly focused on the best part of being an author—writing, I can usually see where they have taken shortcuts which hurt the quality, sale-ability, and visibility of their book(s) and or brand.

Haste makes waste!

I wonder if there is such a thing as publishing addiction? I can see how it could happen, and it would explain authors who rush to publish without doing all the work. The best I have felt in decades came as a result of typing The End for the first time. I poured a scotch, lit a cigar, and sat back to bask in the afterglow of my tremendous achievement; fantasizing about the possibilities . . . it was wonderful. Anything wonderful can be addictive. What if premature publication is actually the root cause of indie and small press books remaining in the weeds?

Premature publication is just like premature ejaculation.
In both cases, people are left wanting.

pexels-photo-256658.jpegControl your excitement!

You must put a long list of things in place before you announce your book to the world. One example of major impotence is most influential reviewers want an ARC or galley copy three months prior to the release of the book. [The typo stayed because it absolutely killed me when I saw it. My subconscious is hilarious.] Skipping over this step is the equivalent of saying: Reviews do not matter, it is the size of your catalog that counts.

That’s just nuts!

Reviews drive this business!
Reviews open doors.

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The top influencers in the industry are not the reviewers you might expect.
Follow these links to find the truth:

www.slate.co

fictionadvocate.com

www.thebookpeople.co.uk

You are only as good as the QUALITY AND QUANTITY of the reviews of your last book.

That is why I will not self-publish another one. There are just too many barriers which are designed to keep indie-authors in their place, which by the way, is anywhere outside of the mainstream book marketplace. Upcoming segments in this series will touch on a few examples. Stay tuned.

Author Truths for Beginners. (Part 1)

Truth 1: If you don’t have expectations, you won’t be disappointed.

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Yeah, I totally got fracked by this.

Becoming an author is exciting. Being swept up by the excitement is a mistake which is difficult to avoid. Most first-time authors will be blown away by a few momentous events. Here are the ones I recall:

  • Writing THE END. You should be proud of this accomplishment no matter what happens afterward. Less than 1% of the planet’s seven billion people will even attempt this. This makes you extraordinary in that it shows you finish what you begin. This is a trade mark of your character, and no one can ever take this away from you.
  • The first time you see a printed proof of your book’s cover. For me, everything became very real in that moment. You realize people will one day soon also be looking at this cover, flipping it over to read the blurb, and taking its contents home with them to read. It is both wonderful and unsettling.
  • The first time you hold your book in your hands. I let out an involuntary audible WOW. I hugged it, fanned its pages, and breathed in the new book smell.
  • The first time someone buys your book. In all likelihood, this will happen at your launch event and it drives home the idea that people will read your words. In so doing, they get to see the parts of us which are normally reserved for our intimate relationships, if we show them at all.
  • When reviews come in. I outwardly pretend that reviews do not affect me. I’m too cool for that. Inwardly however, this could not be farther from the truth. While I do not live and die with each review, I enjoy hearing about what a reader took away from the read; especially the ones who totally got what the book is really about.

These things create a euphoric state which can keep us from seeing the realities of the book publishing world, while at the same time distracting us from taking care of business.

  • I BELIEVED quality work was all that was required to break through. Believing in something does not make it happen, but it does show you are naïve.
  • I REJECTED all the “negativity” about the impossibility of breaking through as a first-time non-credentialed non-fiction author. I remember thinking to myself at the time, “I will show them!” Turns out . . . they showed me.
  • I was chasing a DREAM undaunted, because that is what we are supposed to do in order to be a success STORY. Dreams and stories are mostly fiction.
  • Drive, ambition, and commitment will net success, or so the experts SAY. They always leave out the part about having access to working capital.
  • I had HOPED by putting out a quality work which rivalled products coming out of the Big Five publishers, my book could rise out of the weeds. Hope didn’t get it done.
  • I was ENCOURAGED by many people to do this, and I never once considered the fact that none of them knew anything about the publishing industry. Do not believe unqualified manuscript readers! If they are friends, fans, or relations they will say you are as good as Hemmingway without ever having read his work.

The moral of the story . . .

You need to have a plan for what happens once the afterglow wears off, and you only have one year at most to execute your strategy. Expect to be busy, and learn to measure success in dollars and cents instead of likes, shares, and followers. There is more to being an author than hanging around on social media sites, but we will leave that for next time.