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What is Important?

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

  1. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    {Sorry to cherry-pick such a small part of your excellent post, but I just want to add a tiny comment here}

    What I have found in my short time self-publishing is that the amplification factor for additional books is not linear. In other words, whatever a single book earns, a second book more than doubles it, a third book more than triples it. Here are my numbers so far:

    1 book: $2/day
    2 books: $20/day
    3 books: $45/day

    The 4th book is only just out, so it's too soon to tell, but I'd expect another jump in income. The reason is that each new book pulls in new readers who then go off and find all your other books. They feed off each other, in other words. This presupposes some connection between books. If each one is a different genre, this probably won't work, but it's why series are so successful. In my own case, they are loosely linked stand-alones.

    Bottom line: additional books multiply earnings more than you might expect.
     
    FifthView likes this.
  2. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I really don't know. At this point, I'm mentally disregarding the concept of a breakthrough (which I'm defining as Harry Potter/Twilight etc. level success). While I think an author can improve his chances of such success, I don't think that any action one can take makes the likelihood of attainment high enough to base career decisions on.
     
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I don't think you should quit your day job based on writing quite yet, but I don't see the harm in swinging for the fences from time to time.
     
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    If a breakthrough happens, that's great, but it's not something to base strategic decisions on.
     
  5. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I disagree with you. Assuming you have the capacity to produce more ambitious work, it makes sense to do it occasionally.

    Think of it like an investment portfolio. You can have a bunch of regular well producing but unspectacular stocks (widows and orphans stocks), and then a few high risk/high reward gambles. As long as you can stomach and afford the risk there is no reason not to have a crack now and again. In this project your downside is probably less than in stock investing.

    I do it my business all the time and it works very well for me.
     
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Maybe this is where you and I are having a miscommunication.

    Each work that I've put out so far (and that I intend to put out in the foreseeable future) is the best that I can do at the time of publication (within reason - I can always do another draft and another draft and another draft).

    The way I'm viewing the question is, "Should I devote more time and effort to improving quality in lieu of focusing on some other factor?"

    The answer I've come up with is, "Nope." My quality will improve naturally with experience, but I'm not going to devote much effort, at this point, into trying to improve unless something happens to make me think it's a good idea to do so.
     
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Well, if the work you are putting out is the best you are able to do at the time, and you are using all of your time available to produce it, and it is of such quality having it associated with your name down the road won't hurt you...than I don't see it being a hard decision at all.

    If your work is at that level that I don't think stopping to practice etc makes sense other than to perhaps take some courses or go to events that don't slow you down much.

    One way to enhance quality on a more ambitious work though is to hire better quality editors or artists etc.

    But I am getting ahead of myself. My wife is off to Bouchercon next week and I hope to read your book while she is away. Will be able to give you a much better informed opinion after reading it than I can now.
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Part of the point of this thread was, "What do I concentrate on now?"

    Time and money are limited resources. Should I work on improving the quality of my work or on gaining a better understanding of marketing? Is it better to spend money on a better editor or on a better artist?

    I look forward to it!
     
  9. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I agree that there is a law of diminishing returns which, may not need to be followed, but at least acknowledged. Your goals will dictate the best choice.

    However, there are other concerns regarding craft development that might come into play. For example, sometime in the near future and after a self-publication or two, I want to write a book with an unreliable narrator.

    There's a lot I don't know about writing that type of narrator. I've never done it myself, but I enjoy reading them a great deal. There's going to be study and practice involved before I try my hand at a novel-length work with an unreliable narrator. However, with that as a future goal, I believe that time spent learning another element of craft will be time well spent.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There may be other factors in play when you look at successful writers who write crap (as defined by us). We don't see, though it may be possible to find out, how much time they've put in on marketing, for example. They may have hit a sweet spot in the epublishing convulsions (as Hugh Howey did). IOW, there may be other things to look at besides just the quality of the writing, good or bad.

    But there are plenty of books out there on exactly this topic, written by people with more direct experience than many of us. These books are aimed exactly at the question of achieving commercial success without regard to quality.
     
  11. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    While they are limited resources it is not a zero sum game. As to your first question I think time is an important component and how long term your planning is. I suspect marketing for indy authors is a moving target to a large degree and will be very different five years from now than it is now. Quality I think has more permanence. I would regard on as a long term "foundational" investment, and the other as more of a current operation that needs to be updated or changed more often. So I think you could probably get yourself up to a sufficient level in marketing skills in the current situation and then have time to work on quality. It also depends on the time frames of your work. I would think you could concentrate on quality until perhaps near the end of writing the next novel and then turn to marketing skills for the appropriate period before the next book is ready to launch.

    I don't have data to back it up, but I have seen amazing work done by top notch editors. Just amazing. Also the lessons you learn from them can stretch over a career, a cover is a one book improvement and needs repeating. Infrastructure and consumables. :)

    So do I!
     
  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Thanks for that info! My conveyor belt metaphor was targeted more toward the idea of pushing out lots of books quickly, combined with the idea that doing so would automatically lead to reaching a desired level of profitability even without as much consideration for other factors.

    I do wonder whether the jump in income with succeeding books will be different if those books appear once a year, once every two years, or once every few months. I.e., would keeping the expectations fresh and freshly met, through multiple books in a single year, have more chance of causing that jump than having a longer delay between releases?

    I suspect that quality will play a role in answering that question. I know that I will buy any new Farseer book released, regardless of whether there is a year gap or more. But even with enjoyable series, if the delay is too long, I sometimes never finish them.

    From time to time, I read reviews on Amazon that are negative for succeeding books in an indie series. To paraphrase them: "I really loved the first book, but the quality dropped a lot for each of the next two." I've only experienced this once myself. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed one book that had been publicized as having been written in one month during NaNoWriMo (which will go unnamed here), so I bought the second. It sucked, bad. Really, really bad. So I didn't buy the third in the series. But, I did buy that second book. So I wonder if maybe a particular focus on the quality of the first book in a planned series is good strategy, even if following books don't receive the same kind of focus. [I mean, more time. But good quality for each book would obviously be ideal.]
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    An author has a big choice to make regarding structure. Do you repeat the structure of the first book and make the series feel episodic? That has the appeal of giving readers what they expect from reading the first book, but quite frankly, it seems like episodic is out of fashion. If you don't repeat the structure, however, it means you have to come up with something new. There are resources to help with this but I don't think writing a sequel is quite as easy story structure wise as writing the first book.

    Or at least, that's what I'm experiencing as I outline my sequel.

    Regarding writing my second novel, though (it's the start of a new series in a different subgenre), I really think that, though written a lot faster than Rise, the quality will still be there. Again, the trick to writing fast is to find ways to make your process more efficient and to put more time in with your butt in the chair. Speaking of which ...
     
  14. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Outlining has made this possible for me. I used to hate it, but when looking at what allowed many Indies to write fast I discovered that outlining was part of that process. I've been writing for years but only in the past one have I taken up this feat. Several how-to-outline books have helped me come up with a personal system. Without it, I wouldn't be able to be an efficient writer. My novella drafts take 7-10 days now instead of months.

    I recommend outlining to any writer that wants to be faster. Hitting target word counts in the thousands is easier when you have a plan. And despite popular opinion, outlining doesn't suck out the creativity from writing. It makes me really freaking excited to dive into that prose.
     
  15. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I considered myself a pantser at first and really resisted this advice. I've since changed my tune. It does make the process more efficient.

    I notice that my process is really starting to clarify for me as I work my way through finishing my second full novel:

    Outline
    1st Draft - Get words on page with no regard for anything other than getting words on the page
    2nd Draft - Clean up and major rewrite of first draft to clarify, make it readable, and enhance conflict.
    3rd Draft - Very fast run through for readability.
    Send out for Developmental Beta Reading
    4th Draft - Major rewrite to add character depth and enhance conflict
    5th Draft - Fairly fast run through to tighten prose
    Copy Editing
    Pick up copy editor Comments
    Proof
    Publish
     
  16. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I completely fail to understand why this writing trait would offer any kind of advantage.
     
  17. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    Originality in at least your spin
    Craft like you said
    Making real characters that aren't just decorations in the environment
    Establiishing any and all amounts of emotional rapport with readers
    Diligence to the task
     
  18. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I disagree. If you're swinging for the fences, maybe this is a good thing, but even then, I'm not sure. Most readers seem to want the familiar, not the original.
     
  19. I disagree. I think most readers want a blend of the familiar and the original. The question isn't "Should I be original or stick with the familiar?" It's "To what degree should I mix the original and the familiar."
     
  20. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I don't think that readers want a straight up rewrite of another book, but they want familiar characters who follow a familiar path to a familiar conclusion.

    Since I'm pretty new at self publishing, most of my thoughts on the business are based purely on supposition and on what I've read others say. From my own recent experience, however, I'm learning that the key to success is meeting reader expectations. Those expectations are based on all the other books they've read in the genre, and the more you deviate from those expectations, the more readers you turn off.

    If you want to be successful, I really believe that you absolutely have to consider what your readers' expectations are and how your book measures up to those expectations. If your "originality" deviates too much from the expected, I really feel that it's going to hurt you.
     
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