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Is Writing the Easy Part?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by italian in japan, Oct 14, 2020.

  1. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    That's a matter of some discussion. They're not going to run your social media for you, which is what people think of as marketing. They're probably not going to place ads for your books because those don't really work well enough for them to bother (you'd be lucky to break even with internet ads, especially if you cost out your time).

    But they'll usually send your book to a roster of reviewers, although whether it's their A-list or C-list of reviewers will depend. And being in the catalogue means a much better chance of landing in bookstores, although books can languish on shelves too.

    So the answer is yes, you'll have to do your own marketing, BUT if you do so that marketing should result in more sales and opportunities because of the publisher's connections in the industry. On the flip side, will those connections balance out the smaller royalties you get through a publisher? That's a difficult question to answer, and depends a lot on how well your book does. Weaker books that get through a publisher might do well because of an advance and getting their fees covered. And something like Harry Potter, could that have happened without a publisher?

    But a strong mid-range book, with an author who knows how to approach reviewers, should do better going it solo.
     
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  2. Carl Brothers

    Carl Brothers Scribe

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    I see. Yea, for me I don't even focus on sales. I just want readers. For people to actually see the product. So the royalties won't matter. Your comment about the internet ads seems to be becoming a sad realization for me.
     
  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Minstrel

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    There's two ways in general that ads are priced: cost per views (cpm) and cost per action (cpa). If you buy adspace on the billboard, the cost is based on how many people are expected to see it (cpm). If you hand out some coupons for a dollar off your product, then the cost per action (a person buying your product) is $1; any coupon that isn't used doesn't cost you any money (we're pretending that printing/handing out coupons is free in this case). With digital ads (google ads, social media ads, google search results, ebay promoted listings....), the costs can fluctuate over time as situations change, much like the stock market does. "Kobe Bryant books" as a search term probably didn't have a very high bid a year ago, but right after he died the value of that search result shot up as everyone wanted to buy books by and about him.

    So when you're buying ads in the digital world, you're probably paying for cpm, which means you're paying to be seen. Think of all the ads you see every day on YouTube ad rolls, on Google search results, on your Facebook feed, how many of those do you click? How many of those even register in your brain? Unless you're Coke or Starbucks (or a politician) with billions in ad spend it's a waste of money to pour money into cpm. But it's also hard to track someone seeing an ad for Coke and then choosing to buy Coke the next time they're in the store, so cpa isn't viable. But if you're not a big company with the ability to negotiate good rates, it'll be very hard to find cpa ads. But cpa lets you track the customer's journey (customer sees your ad on facebook > customer clicks ad > customer ends up on your app store page > customer downloads your app > customer uses your app for 2 hours....), so if you lose a lot of people at a certain point you know what to work on (like if they all bail when they see that the only options cost money, maybe do a free ad-supported tier). We do mostly cpa at my job and it took some work to get deals set up for that, but it's a lot better than the moneypit that is Facebook/social media ads.

    Anyways! If you're doing ads and all they're doing is pointing to your website that has separate links to buy your book, it's going to be very difficult to see if your ads are actually accomplishing anything. If they're pointing to an amazon product page, it'll be hard to see if people are putting your book into their carts and then not purchasing for some other reason, since why is amazon going to give you that data? If you're going to pay for people to see you, then you should work on targeting people that are the most likely to buy your book (so instead of "fantasy novel" maybe bid on "fantasy romance novel set in ancient China").
     
  4. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    Yes. It's called 50 shades of grey.

    Publishers don't know how to create the next Harry Potter any more than you do. Otherwise, they'd be doing it all the time. Harry Potter was an accident of the right place, right time which is impossible to recreate, just like 50 shades was. There are plenty of self published books out there who make it as big or bigger than traditional published books. The only 2 advantages to going with a traditional publisher are the ability to get into physical bookstores and easier access to reviewers / other writers for endorsements. O, and you get money up front and don't have to pay for editing / cover design.

    The rest you can do as an indie publisher just as well or even better.

    As for adds, the two main avenues I see indie authors use is facebook and amazon adds. Amazon, you pay per click. Which gives you a fairly direct link from add to click to purchase. It tells you how good your add is, how good your cover is and how good your blurb is. Expect to need 1.000+ views to get a few sales. Facebook I think has a pay per view policy. But you can target your audience very well, which can give you a decent cost per click.

    As a side note, advertising is one of the reasons why series are popular for writers. If you get decent read-through, then you're advertising multiple books with a single add. And then you might lose money on the sale of the first book but you'd still come out ahead with later books.
     
  5. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    Is writing the easy part? Not for me, I'm so badly dyslexic that getting the stuff down on paper (OK, onto my PC) takes forever. I was given the tip that I should start writing short stories first, partly because it would be easier for me personally, partly because its easier to try different styles, work on characterisation and plot development and partly because it is often easier to get short stories accepted by magazines/sites like Clarkesworld so that you can build your reputation that way. I was told that if you can get a few short stories published then you've got something to show the agents or publishers when you pitch your novel to them.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    50 Shades is the exception that almost proves the rule. It raised its audience as a Twilight fan fiction. That’s not an option for the rest of us.

    Oh. And as popular as it was, 50 Shades doesn’t compare to Harry Potter, which dwarfs almost everything.
     
  7. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Have you tried changing your font to Comic Sans? I know it sounds silly, but I know a lot of dyslexics who swear by it. Something about the shape of the letters makes them hold still a little better. My wife and writing partner (and my writing team's primary editor) is also dyslexic and we're always looking for ways to make her job easier.

    As to short stories, by all means write them if you're called to write them, but whoever told you that is probably about my age and remembers when brick and mortar bookstores were king. It's old advice. Yes, that's how we used to do it, but these days short stories are better utilized for writing practice and enticing readers from a base you control, like your author website. Tor.com has good reach on the short story front, but they only publish 12 a year that I know of. A lot of the old fantasy magazines that we would submit short stories to went out of business years ago. They couldn't compete with the internet.
     
  8. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    I'm not so sure - and I suspect we're similar in age. The problem is finding someone to take whatever you've written. Unless your first 3 chapters grab attention immediately you don't get very far. My problem is that the two novels I've managed to write so far only come in at a little over 50000 words. Thats too long for a novella by most definitions, too short for a novel for most publishers and agents. I'm told that what I've written is good, but very tightly, possibly too tightly, written. There isn't much fat if you see what I mean. Thats no real surprise given my dyslexia, I've always written in a very terse style because writing is so difficult. But it doesn't make for the sort of thick book a lot of fantasy readers seem to expect...
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    There’s a number of short story publishers who pay a 8 cents a word and count for entry into SFWA, including the afore mentioned Clarkesworld. If you’re looking for an in with agents it is still an option.

    Still, I agree the advice is dated. It can get you an in with the industry but it doesn’t give you an audience. These places are small nowadays, and their readers are old scholarly types. I would say about two-thirds of the stories these places put out tend for literary, “boundary-pushing,” and other not-mass-market-friendly material. The pathway is there for someone who fits that niche, but most writers will struggle.

    Tor.com, the maybe exception, stopped taking public submissions a few years ago. They only really publish stories from authors who have books published through Tor now.

    Edit to add, I’ve heard some people suggest publishing shorts through wattpad, but I don’t have a clear idea of how viable that is.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Reader reviews don’t matter much until past a certain number, and even then, all 5’s will make folks suspicious, heh heh. How much do they matter? Hell if I know. The trouble comes where I’ve seen crap books with 100’s of reviews and a high average, so no doubt, that makes readers leery. Pro reviews are another matter. But even then, reviews don’t matter if no one sees the product. Marketing is a monster. Promo services such as BookBarbarian (middle grade) and Bookbub (the big papa) are ways to go. But, even a Bookbub only does so much. It’s a thrust of adrenaline, but they accept very few books on KDP these days. Easier to get in with your book wide, but still takes 40+ reviews with a high average.

    Cover and blurb and sample chapters are as likely to be issues as reviews.

     
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  11. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Well, my first three novels were trad published (by small publishers) but they had bugger all marketing budget so I kicked in a bit of my own money to help.

    Whatever works.
     
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