I want to share my writing. But, I also want to be able to make a living, or at least a partial living, while doing it.
That dream has two parts:
Share the storytelling.
Paid to continue producing.
Sharing would be easy. Create a web site and start posting, while also posting it on various archives around the internet for original fiction. The second part of the dream means money and the ability to sell comes into the equation.
A sorry truth: Life always becomes more complicated when money is involved.
If we’re going to talk about selling, then that means a business is involved, even if that business is your career as a content producer. To approach this without the basics of business is a sure-fire way to fail in a spectacular manner.
So, since I want to start up my career on a solid foundation that means approaching all of this like a business. As I’ve been in the business world my entire adult life, I’m not a complete newbie about this.
So, let’s talk business.
There are a few basics that every company hoping to sell something must know and watch out for. The biggie is:
Know your customer and market.
This is crucial if you are going to first find, and then keep, a customer.
If you don’t have a customer then you will not sell a product. With no sales, the business is dead. End of life, next quarter please.
In basic terms this means knowing what the customer wants, the quality standard they will accept, providing it at a price they are willing to pay in places they can easily find it, being able to continue to produce more product to sell, and flexibility to adjust to new market conditions.
If there is a breakdown at any of the above steps, then the business will have trouble.
Let’s break this down into specific points:
- If you don’t know what the customer wants, then you aren’t going to find a customer base for your product.
- If the quality is low, then the customer will find a product that does have the quality. There is too much quality out there for them to put up with bad quality.
- If it’s not a price the customer is willing to pay, they will go with another product that they are willing to pay.
- If a customer has to hunt down your product, many times they will instead switch to what they CAN easily find. For many people time is money.
- Keep a good relationship with your wholesale/product resources. If you don’t have a product to sell, you don’t have a business.
- If something doesn’t work, YOU CHANGE. You must be flexible to new market conditions to survive.
I want to say again: Publishing is a business! As much a business as it is ‘art’ and ‘craft’. Ignore one in favor of the other at your peril.
So, let’s explore the above points and how they might apply to the publishing industry of today (and hopefully not turn this into another rant). As this has turned rather long, each point will be its own post.
In the meantime, I’m sure I haven’t remembered all the points. If you think of more, put them in the comments, please!
NOTE: For basic career tips and guidelines focused towards authors, I recommend three big resources: Dean Wesley Smith “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” series, Kristine Kathryn Rusch “Freelancer’s Survival Guide”, and J.A. Konrath “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing”.
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will if fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!
I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.