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What is Important?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by BWFoster78, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I think of the time I've spent learning how to write as completely sunk costs. Similarly, I don't really think much about the amount of time I'm spending to produce a new work. Later in my career assuming I'm selling relatively consistently, those kinds of variable may very well enter into my considerations.

    For the moment, I'm thinking:

    I'm going to spend $150 and one week.

    The week doesn't really count very much against me; it simply delays publication of another work by a week (which, at this stage of my career, is really almost a negligible consideration).

    From a money standpoint: Conservatively, I'll make $14 per set for every reader who purchases books 2-4 of my to be written series. Selling 11 additional copies based on the changes I make is a positive ROI. Considering that I expect to put my book in the hands of over 2000 readers, I only need a .6% increase in sell through to make up that difference.

    I get your point about time, though. Really, though, considering how many hours I've spent writing the book in the first place (I don't even want to speculate!), what's another 10 hours or so?
     
  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    RE: Targeting

    I only meant that the writing itself, beyond choice of language and adhering to its rules of spelling and grammar, isn't being used to target an audience if writing prowess isn't also used to target an audience.

    Choice of story, plot, tropes, and so forth are pre-writing–and they might appeal to a very large swath of potential readers, in their pre-written conceptual forms. But to target them specifically for a definite group of readers, they must be transformed into writing, which requires writing prowess of some level.

    Mere English, for example, with its rules of spelling and grammar, also targets a wide swath of potential readers, to the point of not really being targeted at a specific, definite audience.

    Choosing not to worry overmuch about plot inconsistencies and various other potential stumbling blocks is not a method of targeting an audience so much as a method of not worrying about targeting a segment of potential readers. Perhaps what's left over will be a smaller potential audience; but one hasn't targeted that audience. So in line with my previous comment: Some of those potential readers who actually greatly enjoy your choice of story idea, your plot, and so forth, might fall in the first group and not the group that's "left over." But you've not targeted either. Or maybe you've broadly targeted both, conceptually (in choice of story, etc.), hoping that at least some of them will self-identify as the intended target of the book; but are you targeting them or hoping they will self-target?

    These questions, I think, will apply to pretty much any book written, whether the author spends a great length of time fretting over plot inconsistencies or does not. Reader "self-targeting" is always going to happen, regardless of how much effort an author puts into the book; one can't please everyone all the time. But choosing to fret over, and fix, potential stumbling blocks to immersion seems to me to be a slightly surer aim than simply not bothering.

    Post-production methods of targeting–promotion sites, book cover design, other marketing–can create a more appealing target (for the self-targeting reader) or at the least a visible target. Hence the caution about not judging a book by its cover. Or its blurbs. Or the wildly raving reviews that appear immediately after a self-pubbed book appears on Amazon. But sometimes such things can be fortuitous for a reader and author both. And marketing can work for anyone, for any book, not just those which have lots of plot inconsistencies and other foibles.
     
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    To me, the important thing about audience targeting as it relates to self publishing, is to determine what the readers of your genre want. Doing so is most commonly accomplished by analyzing indie best sellers in your genre.
     
  4. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    You can aim for mass-appeal and lose, or you can write something ingenious and adventuress and still lose. I guess what I'm trying to say is that to focus on mass-market success is betting against the odds. there is no formula to study that diagnosis literature trends, it's whatever happens to catch the eye of a major publisher. Better to write because you want to tell a story for yourself, at first. If commercial success follows more power to ya.
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    FatCat,

    There is absolutely nothing you wrote in this paragraph that makes me believe you have any understanding of my points in this thread.

    Let's consider three paths to success (not trying to be comprehensive as there are a lot of possible paths):

    1 - Traditional

    If you want a Big 5 publisher to dump loads of money in your bank account, your best bet is probably to swing for the fences. You have to wow the editors with your concept. Putting out something that is like what everyone else is writing isn't going to make you stand out. The problem is that it isn't easy to put out something exceptional. If all 79 people (as of this posting) who have viewed this thread each wrote their best ever work, would any of those qualify as truly exceptional enough to make a Big 5 editor take serious notice? Maybe, but I kinda doubt it.

    2 - Self Publishing as I've advocated in this thread

    The key to succeeding at this path is to work hard and work smart. You need to be putting out lots of books. Aim for what the readers want. Pay attention to the feedback you're getting. If readers aren't buying it and you're not getting sell through, you're doing something wrong and need to make changes. Promote. Treat writing like a business. I truly believe that just about anyone on this site can, depending on your definition of success, succeed following this path. Not talking about buying a Ferrari for each day of the week or anything, but making a solid side income where each book you put out pays back a lot more than you financially invested in it.

    3 - Build an audience before publishing

    This is what Hugh Howey and Andy Weir did. They posted a lot of free stories on websites, used the experience and the feedback to get better at delivering what their audience wanted, and built a huge following. When they finally published, there was such a demand for their work that it shot to the top of Amazon's chart where more and more people discovered it. I think that, if you have patience and you have the ability to learn from the feedback you receive, this path is very doable as well.

    Of the three paths, I really believe that the traditional path that you advocate is the least likely to happen.
     
  6. Gospodin

    Gospodin Minstrel

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    <-- Knowing the underlying why of my story.

    Having a why I am writing this thing doesn't mean it needs to be a polemic. Yeah, that can definitely happen, but it's not obligatory. I recently read Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy and it was a strange read indeed and it was also very clearly about the concept of communication. In the tell of the tale he touched on some very profound ideas that aren't normally found outside the rarified climes of academia within the linguistics department, and certainly not usually to be found within what is ostensibly a bit of almost-Science Fiction. China Miéville's Embassytown was the same. A Science Fiction novel that was also a lesson in linguistics, language acquisition, and a story about how language shapes thought as much as thought shapes language. Both stories by these authors were deeply enthralling to me because that was my field of study at uni. Do I think every reader is going to grok that underlying framework? No. Not without the educational background to recognize the theories and ideas in play. But that doesn't really matter. The fact that there is an underlying framework, an ideological scaffolding, makes these works compelling to any reader because it kept the writer in a true course.
     
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Brian,

    Have you worked out how many copies/month sales you need to target per book, perhaps an algorithm to account for number of books you have on the market? I'm suddenly curious if there's a baseline target.
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Not really. At this point, I'm so far away from sustainable sales that it's kinda pointless to think about.

    But since you asked ...

    Let's say that I have all 3 of the Repulsive trilogy out. If the first book is free and the others are 3.99 ea, I'd get $5.50 per set sold, and $3 per set read.

    Let's say that I've published my 4th Rise book with the first free and the others at 4.99 (10.5/set sold and $9/set borrowed).

    That's an average of $7/set sold or borrowed. To get $2000/mnth, I'd need to sell/loan around 10 sets per day.
     
    FifthView likes this.
  9. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I'm just putting a shout out to the 79 people who are working their butts off, writing, reading, studying, attending workshops, participating on forums, and generally beating themselves up. There is no reason why you cannot, in time, be truly exceptional. I have read a ton of posts here on this forum and have met a lot of very talented people who I'm sure will be traditionally published (even by one of the Big 5).
     
    Russ likes this.
  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I would be willing to make you a bet, that either my wife or I, will have sold to a big five publisher within the next 3 years. While my wife has not read this thread, she is more talented than I am and has more time to write than I do. :)

    Care to take me up on it? It only increases the number to 80 from 79 which is an insignificant change in the odds...


    What a carefully worded comment. It specifically avoids the value of your time...
     
  11. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I'm sorry to say--and everyone has a different journey in mind--but at this stage, I'm not attempting to get traditionally published. I gave up on that ages ago. And now, 20 years later, the opportunity with a local publisher has been presented to me and I've held back because, really, why give anyone my rights when I can make my own way? Sure, there are benefits to being traditionally published...none of which I can really think of at the moment.
     
  12. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I do almost exclusively contingency work. Have not docketed in about 20 years or so...thank God...
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  13. brokethepoint

    brokethepoint Troubadour

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    For my day job their big failure is not looking at supposed short term savings against long term costs.

    So the question is, do you write for short or long term financial success.

    For long term financial success (which is how I see financial success) it will require a quality to the writing. The characters, the story and the style are all factors in if I keep reading and keep buying books by an author. Are there things I can over look, yes.
     
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