In today’s Journal
* Kris Rusch’s Patreon page
* Topic: How to Manage and Expand Your Business
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
I’m fortunate that I support Kris Rusch’s Patreon Page (at a lowly $5 per month). She posted two back-to-back posts today re the current Black Swan (herein after referred to as BS, no joke intended) event. They were extremely helpful.
I’ll be posting them here in “Of Interest” when they go live on her site next Thursday (or at least that’s been her pattern).
Topic: How to Manage and Expand Your Business
Like any other business, a writing business takes time to grow. The standard wisdom I’ve always heard is that most businesses run in the red for the first few (usually 2 to 5, depending on whom you ask) years. So planning (the old “Where do you want to be in X years?”) is essential.
Kris’ posts showed once again that it’s important to do as much of the actual production as possible yourself. Basically, if you don’t depend on anyone else, you won’t be disappointed.
For example, I write (duh), but I also create my own covers, write my own sales copy, etc. If you hire any of that out, the current BS event will affect you much more than it will affect me.
However, if you decide to start creating your own covers, etc. it’s important to do so intelligently, which in this business means research, learn, prepare, and then take your “best guess.”
How? Study the covers of best sellers in genre(s) in which you write and try to mimic them as to overall style (fonts, close-up or faraway photos, etc.), color(s), and other elements.
Study sales copy (book blurbs and descriptions) so you learn the various formulae for doing those correctly. Note that in this case, studying bestsellers isn’t always the best idea. A month or so ago in this Journal I mentioned the sales copy for Steven Pressfield’s latest novel—sales copy that actually made me decide NOT to buy the novel.
So if you want to study sales copy of others’ books, study the sales copy that’s intriguing to you, that actually makes you want to buy the book.
If you’d rather learn directly, the best source I’ve seen for studying sales copy is Dean’s book How to Write Fiction Sales Copy, which you can see at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0178MQVX2.
And most importantly of all, continue to put out quality work, by which I mean the best you can do at your current skill level. Yes, it’s good enough.
You really don’t realize how much you know about writing fiction. Nobody does. So the big hurdle is learning to trust your subconscious.
And this is true no matter your particular process, whether you WITD or outline or whatever. When you’re actually writing the story, trust your subconscious (trust what you already know, what you’ve absorbed over the years without even realizing it).
And then, of course, continue to learn actively through classes, mentoring, etc. and passively by reading in your chosen genres for pleasure.
Without going into specifics, I do all right with sales. If anything, as more people stay inside and read, this BS event will actually help my business.
If I was still making most of my income from personal appearances speaking at writers’ conferences and conventions, I’d take a major hit. But I’m not. Lucky me. Really. Consider,
▪ I continue to churn out quality novels, novellas and short stories.
▪ I do all my own covers, etc. so I don’t have to depend on someone who might not be there tomorrow if their business folds.
▪ My wife only recently came aboard and is learning marketing, so she’ll learn during the transition from the “old normal” (before the BS event) to the new normal (however things settle out when all of this is over).
▪ And the Licensing Expo has been postponed until August of this year, meaning we can be even more ready to take advantage of it.
▪ If there’s a “downturn” at all in reading habits, it won’t affect my business harshly and will provide me with an opportunity to learn new things (for me, paper covers are on the near horizon).
So all in all, for the first time ever, I’m actually glad my own business isn’t quite large enough yet for me to have set up a full C corporation, hired an attorney, etc.
I still believe personally the current mess going on wouldn’t be nearly as big if the press would stop hyping it so much. That being said, what I think makes no difference. It is what it is.
The fact is, the press is hyping it, and businesses and organizations (and people) are reacting to that hype (closures, postponements, etc.). And those reactions are what create the Black Swan event we all have to live with.
I can also hardly wait to see what’s waiting on the other side. (I have a couple of predictions, and I’m anxious to see whether they pan out.)
I wish you all calm and thoughtful planning as we move through the next few months.
Today I’ll write a short story, then go back to the novel.
I think I really needed the day off yesterday. I did a few things out here in the Hovel, then did pretty much nothing the rest of the day. I even wondered whether maybe I’d contracted the virus, but no fever, so nope. Just worn out. (grin)
But one thing I did do yesterday was glance at the novel. I left it in a great place (in media res) so I know I can pick up on it again with almost no reading-back or cycling. So that’s why I know I can skip it and write a short story today to catch up with my past weekly goal.
Weird. I had the beginning of a scene in mind for the story: a biker pulls up to a Denny’s just as another man is passing by on the sidewalk. That’s it.
As I opened a blank Word doc, a title occurred to me: A Long Way Down. It apparently had nothing to do with the scene, but it felt right. That’s the creative subconscious at work. (grin)
I started writing and 2961 words later the story was finished, and it was finished with that title.
I love it when that happens.
Oh, and I’ll send “A Long Way Down” to anyone who would like it. Just email me.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Amazon is a Search Engine–Make Your Book an Easy-to-Find Product” at https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/03/amazon-is-a-search-engine-make-your-book-an-easy-to-find-product/.
See “Planning to Go to Your First Book Fair…” at https://annerallen.com/2020/03/first-book-fair-13-tips/.
See “New Pop-Up Available” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/new-pop-up-available-2/.
See “Introverts Unite” at https://killzoneblog.com/2020/03/introverts-unite.html. More on how the BS event might affect you.
See “Productivity: 5 Tips For Effectively Working From Home” at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2020/03/15/working-from-home/.
See “How To Self-Publish A Book…” at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2020/03/13/how-to-self-publish-a-book/. A valuable podcast with time markers for specific subjects.
See “Tax for Unruly Writers” at https://prowriterswriting.com/tax-for-unruly-writers.
See “Scholastic is offering free online courses…” at https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/15/us/scholastic-coronavirus-students-trnd/index.html.
Fiction words today…………………… 2961
Nonfiction words today…………… 1160 (Journal)
Writing of “A Long Way Down” (short story)
Day 1…… 2961 words. Total words to date…… 2961 (done)
Writing of The Othgygnrkthers (tentative title, novel)
Day 1…… 3863 words. Total words to date…… 3863
Day 2…… 2408 words. Total words to date…… 6261
Day 3…… 3116 words. Total words to date…… 9377
Day 4…… 3051 words. Total words to date…… 12428
Day 5…… 3285 words. Total words to date…… 15713
Day 6…… 2486 words. Total words to date…… 18199
Day 7…… 2365 words. Total words to date…… 20564
Day 8…… 3053 words. Total words to date…… 23617
Day 9…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the month……… 32518
Total fiction words for the year………… 169213
Total nonfiction words for the month… 15130
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 69610
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 238823
Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 3
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 6
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 48
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 202
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
2 thoughts on “The Journal: How to Manage and Expand Your Business”
Yup. The first time I saw that the chaos was expanding, I decided that it wasn’t going to be a good idea to do any new releases until things settle down. Otherwise, I could end up with a book that sinks outright in the algorithms.
Business isn’t just covers and blurbs though. It includes making decisions about if you want copy editing or developmental editing (it often gets made from an emotional side, not a business side); if submitting to this anthology call is a good choice (since I’ve been seeing a lot of political fiction calls. That’s a story that no one will want to read when the winds change); and to some choices you put in a book (if you have a middle grade novel, profanity will likely keep you out of libraries).
Thanks, Linda. Yes, of course whether to hire ouside help (whether for covers, blurbs, copyediting, or whatever else) is a decision each individual writer must make as s/he sees fit. For me personally it’s best to do everything myself with the help of my first readers. As for the rest, for me the “release” of a book is a non-event and trying to figure out algorithms is a non-starter. I keep it all very simple: I write, finish, publish, and write. And I never, ever pre-judge what readers might like or why. My job is to write and to make stories available. Nothing more. Everything else is up to the reader.
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