Thursday, January 21, 2010

If You Build It, They Won't Come

...or Self-Publishing in the Era of Self-Publishing Part 2

Thanks to Michael Stone for pointing me to Brian Keene's post of January 4th. (I can't seem to read Keene's blog at school...something about "adult language" filters it on our network...go figure.)

Keene starts the ball rolling nicely, and the comments (and there are a lot of them), are almost more insightful. The take home message (in my opinion): Brian Keene would sell a fair amount of self-pubbed books. I wouldn't. Not that I needed 125+ comments on Brian Keene's blog to tell me that.

Yeah, my Mom would buy a copy and that's all great. I'm sure some other folks would, too. Most people in my life wouldn't be able to tell the difference between self-pubbed and anything else, just like they don't know the difference between POD and traditional publishing. People who don't think about and discuss writing everyday...well, they don't think about this schtuff. Duh.

But I'd sell more self-published books now than I would have three years ago. Technology (web, POD, ebooks) allows me to have a voice, but no one has to listen. I have to give them a reason to listen. Keene has done that. Author's with name recognition have name recognition for a reason: consistent, professional performance. Building that audience doesn't happen overnight, and with the weird crap that I tend to write, my potential audience size is probably limited. I'm okay with that. If writing becomes just another job, I'll quit. The stories will make me quit because I won't be writing them. Not the right ones, anyway.

If my name is my brand (and as a writer, it is), I want readers to know what to expect. I want them to be happy they spent fifteen minutes in my head. Well, maybe not happy, but fulfilled in some way. Freaked out, maybe.

So will I self-pub a book of my work? Maybe. Someday. I think cost has to be correlated to name recognition, though. Little name = little price. Clear the path for potential buyers to take a chance on you. And for the newbie who hasn't, at the very least, made the rounds of the small press and semi-pro markets who thinks his/her short story collection/novel is going to the top at the low Amazon.com POD price of $16.95...good luck with that.

16 comments:

Jeremy Kelly said...

Good post. I agree that it's all about networking and brand recognition for someone at my stage. I think that, once you realize that, you're in the ball game.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

That Keene article was lengthy but very insightful. There was a contemporary of his that did a similar analysis that week, but I can't remember who.

It kind of reminds me of when Coutrney Love posted her financial info on the web so the public could see how shitty payouts were for music artists. I just don't see how the midlist is at all sustainable as it currently works.

Jamie Eyberg said...

And the Polson name is going to be freakin' huge in the future. Just a hunch.

Aaron Polson said...

Jeremy K - and writing is just a piece of the game, sheesh.

Jeremy B - There's the word: sustainable. Why would anyone want to work that hard for shite?

Jamie - Maybe when I hire someone to make a hot air balloon? ;)

Andrea said...

It's times like this I wish I had a huge family. They buy anything I get published whether they think its good or not. Love them to death for it. In all seriousness, I agree. Networking and branding is a necessity for success when you're a small fish.

BTW, I'm a newcomer to your blog. Loving it!

Natalie L. Sin said...

My dad definitely can't tell the difference. Suffice to say, he once sent me a link for a less than legitimate self-publishing site. Bless his heart!

Sophie Playle said...

Link doesn't work for me :(

Cate Gardner said...

Keene makes a good point about self-publishing as a name, especially re out of print books.

My mum expects a free copy of any books (fair enough) and most of my immediate family and friends don't read. I'm stuffed.

Elana Johnson said...

This post is as much about author branding as it is self-publishing. Because they're so related, all of your points are well-taken.

Aaron Polson said...

Andrea - Always glad to have new "faces" around here, small fish, big fish, or in-between fish.

Sophie - I couldn't check the link, but his blog is at www.briankeene.com (copy and paste). The entry in question was January 4th.

Cate - My mom knows I'll charge her double. Kidding, of course. I'm sure she'll get a freebie.

Elana - I sense another post coming on...author branding, next week. I think all newbies should be led to a room and told all about "branding".

mylefteye said...

I don't feel I could legitimately self-publish, say, a collection and then ask people to shell out for it. I might do it as a gift for friends one day. If I can sell my novels, a collection of everything so far as a thank you for all the support might be a nice gesture. Expensive, but then I'm holding out for a big advance on those novels! :)

And I'm looking forward to some of my fave authors releasing their hard-to-find back catalogues via POD when the self-publishing ball gets rolling.

katey said...

That's the point I meant to make on your Pt 1 post exactly. Word Fail takes me again, but yes, totally.

I'm predicting it won't be too long before we see it viable for you, anyhow! I'll be first in line.

Alan W. Davidson said...

I'm thinking that over time your number of followers, or fans, will begin to grow at a faster rate. I suppose it may have more to do with good timing. And luck. That the right influencial person stumbles upon you. You know that there will be a lot of 'Aaron Polson Fan Club' members ready to pimp you out...umm, you know what I mean...

Aaron Polson said...

Michael - The thought of rare OOP books coming back via POD thrills me. I'm a junkie for old stuff.

Katey - All we can do is keep plugging away, right?

Alan - I've been reading about this "luck" thing...and the idea of "growing at a faster rate"--wait for tomorrow's flash fiction. Heh.

BT said...

Oh - can we gather in all new writers and take to them with a brand - that sounds...like a premise for a flash fiction piece...I'll just add that to the idea file.

All points well made. In the end, I'm writing in the hope people will read it. As a natural evoltion of that, I hope my writing improves to be good enough to get me a book deal through traditional publishing so more people will read it. Once I've accomplished all that, and have my mansion in the hills, then I'll be in a position to give back and self publish for very small prices so even more readers will have access to my stories.

At least, that's the plan...

Aaron Polson said...

BT - and it's a grand plan. Personally, I'd settle for a cabin in the mountains, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.