The Road to Success Part One–What Kind of Author are You?
Kristen is a TOTAL Dean Koontz fan-girl!
Last week we talked about why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books and why marketing for writers requires a very different approach. We also discussed what critical event transpires to turn a good writer/good book into a legend—the mobilization of the fat part of the bell curve. Make no mistake, I will never promise to make any author a mega-best-selling household name, but I can give you some fundamental practices that will improve your odds greatly.
I’m here to guide you into higher and higher levels of success.
The tools I offer will help you maximize time on social media to leave you more time to do the most important aspect of your career….write great books. This month, we are going to strike out and explore ways that we can mobilize that fat part of the bell curve to our favor. I believe it is simple, but not at all easy.
Mobilizing that fat part of the bell curve will be a different process depending on what kind of author you are.
The tools I offer work for all kinds of authors, whether you are traditional, indie or self-published. Yet, I will be blunt when I say that indie and self-published authors need these tactics even more.
All Authors are Entrepreneurs
All authors are entrepreneurs, but we are not all the same kind of entrepreneur. Indie authors? We are the people who strike out with little more than a push cart and mama’s tamale recipe and dream to one day make it big. We are, for the most part, on our own and so we have to work harder, try harder, and perform better than the competition.
Writers who go the traditional route can be likened to the investor who opens a McDonalds. They are part of a franchise that is already branded and has a name already trusted by consumers. McDonalds might not be fine French cuisine, but it sells BILLIONS of burgers worldwide and is an icon.
However, not just anyone can own a McDonalds franchise. It’s an expensive and arduous process, but the chances you will be successful are actually quite good. Not only that, but McDonalds has set recipes that are proven to sell. They take on risk and responsibility by taking you on as a franchise owner. There is all kinds of training and support offered to help ensure your success.
But to say owning a McDonalds is the ONLY way to own a successful burger joint is ludicrous.
As entrepreneurs, we have the option of taking out a loan and opening our own burger joint and striking out on our own. There are multiple advantages. We can cook whatever kind of burger we want. We can decorate any way we like. We can choose to open at noon and only serve until two. We can become a burger & sushi bar, a combination no one has done before.
We can take full credit for any success and not have to share our profits. Ah, but we also have a 65% chance of going under in two years and listening to our family say, “I told you so” for the next 20 years. Not everyone has what it takes to strike out with a dream and a recipe for fried chicken.
Same in publishing. Not everyone has what it takes to be successful as a self-published or indie author. The time, work, focus and energy are as exhausting as trying to sway those sitting in the drive-thru at McDonalds to try out our hot dog stand instead.
Traditional publishing holds advantages. Traditional publishers are Golden Arches. Granted, no one goes into a book store and looks for a Random House or a Penguin, but we would be self-deluding if we didn’t admit that a major house stamped on the spine didn’t offer a writer an advantage. In traditional publishing, there are teams of people devoted to help a book succeed. Ah, but traditional publishers have set recipes of what they will publish. There is a standard of word count and the genre rules are far stricter.
Before anyone gets offended, I am in no way saying that traditionally published books are poor quality assembly-line stories. I’m not comparing the content to fast-food burgers. We all know that traditional publishing has very high standards. Granted, not everything they publish is gold, but most of it meets an amazing standard of excellence. The McDonalds reference is more for how the traditional publishers do business. There are limits to the risks they will take.
As a self-published author, I can totally believe that ferret romance novels with rodents as the main characters are going to be the next best thing. Hey, pets are the forgotten demographic. Think of all the cat and dog owners who can now read Fluffy and Muffin stories that speak to their little furry hearts.
No one can stop me from publishing A Tale of Two Hamsters or Muskrat Love Story. If I hit it big, I will be hailed as a creative genius, and Harper Collins will be hunting me down for a book deal. They had no idea that guinea pigs could be such a hot item!
If I fail? Eh *shrugs* people have short memories these days. I can try with something new because the only brand at risk is my own.
As an indie or self-published author, we have more creative latitude but it does come at a price.
What does this have to do with social media?
Before we do anything we first need to define who we are, what we want and the nature of our product before doing anything. We need to be clear about what kind of author we want to be. This is a critical step. We need to define who we are and what we want because defining the destination affects the journey. It will affect the tools we need, the resources, the mental fortitude.
Planning a trip to Orlando to go to Disney World is a far different trip than a hike to the North Pole. I challenge all of you to be honest and take some time today to write out what you want. Dream big, dream small, but most of all….WRITE IT DOWN.
Granted, my methods work for all kinds of writers, but the real magic from my principles will come in being properly prepared. We need a full appreciation for the journey we are going to take. The journey for all writers used to be pretty much the same. Write, bleed, get therapy, query, drink, write some more, query, maybe drink some more, and, if you didn’t give up or throw yourself off your balcony, you might make it past the gatekeepers.
Today? Lots of different paths to publication and lots of different definitions for success.
What is your definition of success? Is it just seeing your book in print? Is it selling a handful of copies to friends and family? Is it selling enough money to fund building your underground secret lab? Okay maybe that’s just me. No really! I ask of you…When are you going to know you have finally become successful?
Becoming a best-selling published traditional author is like planning a trip to the top of Everest. It is a HUGE undertaking and very few do it successfully.
The good news is that becoming a best-selling indie or self-published author is not like planning a trip to the top of Everest. Whew!
Bad news is it is like planning a trip to the summit of K-2. Yeah, sorry, no passes. Both ways require sacrifice, blood, sweat tears, blisters and good old-fashioned WORK.
We are going to discuss this more in the coming weeks. But I leave you with this exercise. Ask yourself today what kind of author you want to be. What does success mean to you? Define it. Make it real. If you don’t know the end destination, how can you ever properly prepare? How can you know when you’ve arrived? How can you know what roads to take? You can’t! So nail it down. And we will meet next week for the next step in the journey. Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.
So what are your thoughts? Opinions? Dreams? Recipes for world domination using only a Bedazzler and a rubber chicken?
I LOVE hearing from you guys!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of January I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: I will announce the December winners on Friday.
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!
See you next year!