Tag: A Perfect Blindness

Self-Publishing Part 11: the Book Hunt/a Quick Note

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

A quick note to everyone who has been following Going it Mostly Alone; owing to a couple of coinciding health issues, neither serious on their own, but seriously unpleasant together, I’ve spent much of the past 5 days in bed, recovering, occasionally pushing my fingers over to Twitter to retweet a thing or four.

Only today have I been able to get back to 80%, and that means lots of busy work.

As a preview of the next post—finally taking a good look at your own good advice, which for some reason, you haven’t followed well.

 

Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers: from a Tournament to a Marathon

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

As technology allowed self-publishing to rise, the Marathon overtook the Tournament as the primary model through which most authors need to view their relationship with books and publishing.

Before the advent of POD and digital books, the primary model of publishing was a tournament.

In fact most “glamorous” or “creative” jobs such as

  • “showbiz”
  • arts
  • sports
  • allied fields like advertising

any place where very many people want to get into very few available slots, and round after round of attrition winnows down the contenders for the scarce positions.

Whether one’s goal is to be one of the few new authors published by Random House, an artist in an advertising house or painter appearing on a gallery’s wall, life happens. Choices are made. Editing gets put off, portfolios lay incomplete, and canvases remain untouched as lovers arrive, as marriages occur, as children are born, as paying rent becomes too prominent.

Over time, those still competing face fewer and fewer challengers. Eventually, only a few will outlast all the others and grasped those few places on bookshelves, in offices or on gallery walls. No matter who is most talented, best, or is a genius—the ones who survive the tournament win. Everyone else fails. Period.

For books on the Traditional Publishing Path, this means completing a manuscript, getting the help it needs, attracting an agent (or risking the slush pile), both tournaments on their own, and that one won, the author joins the next: convincing an editor to back a book.

Then, this multiple tournament winner must join yet more struggles. Once the book finally appears, the chosen author must not only battle other titles for the publishing house’s limited marketing resources, but then with all other books for shelf space, virtual and not, and then with TV, games, social media, etc. for an audience’s strained attention.

Here, our valiant survivor enters the marathon of promotion: I’ve seen both Stephen King and Umberto Ecco hawking books (Pet Cemetery and Prague Cemetery respectively.)

While there are similarities between marathons and tournaments—both are about lasting—it’s the differences that are key surviving each.

With marathons: as long as you cross the line, you win, no matter how long it takes. Sure, some people get across the goal faster than you, but you do make it in the end.

With current technology, all it takes to skip the tournaments is money and time. Pony up your bucks and buy a starting place in the marathon. Of course, the amount of time and money spent on getting that starting spot can determine if it’s a half or full marathon: more money and time spent on better quality editing, the shorter distance, in theory.

The leap into the Marathon via cash and technology isn’t without it’s issues. Each technology works best for accomplishing specific goals, and next up, we’ll dive into hitting one of the limitations I’d not fully considered: page count, pricing, profit and the realities of marketing.

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.

 

Self-Publishing Part 12: How the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers, a Real Time Break

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

So far, this path to publication has relied mostly on an extended flashback, with occasional forays into general truths. Today will be a break into present time, with a quick step back a couple of weeks to prepare for what is happening now. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 12: How the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers, a Real Time Break”

Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers or A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Speaking of marathons, A Perfect Blindness has been out for about 6 months.

Sales?

Not nearly what I wanted, hoped, nor planned for. I’m creaking along with about half of what I need for the first milestone (with an asterisk explained later).

Likely owing to that I’ve avoided doing what’s important. By which I mean the hard parts. Been busy as hell. But not getting what I need to get done: outreach. The letting people know the book exists part. The scary part. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 12: the Book Hunts for 500 Buyers or A Marathon, Not a Sprint”

Self-Publishing Part 11: Amazon Lists, Best of This, That, or the Other Thing ​

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

Amazon lists appear at first flush to be the Holy Grail of big-data sales accuracy. Amazon knows what was sold, when, by whom, to whom, and for some Kindle versions, even how many pages have been read: Finally, the El Dorado of sales accuracy.

Except it’s not. Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 11: Amazon Lists, Best of This, That, or the Other Thing ​”

Self-Publishing Part 11: Bestseller, best of and Other lists. Who makes them matters.

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

The last member of the list making quadrangle are the list makers themselves. No one does this as a public service. They are trying to attract people to their publication/business, be that a newspaper, periodical, blog, bookseller or what-have-you. Now, if all the list maker did was get raw numbers, rank the top X titles and publish it, all the bestseller lists would be essentially the same, differing—if at all—only by how the numbers were grouped: broadly as fiction vs. nonfiction or more narrowly into genres like mysteries, or subgenres like drawing-room whodunits. But if this were all a list maker did, it wouldn’t matter much if a reader went to the NYT or WSJ, or this blog, or that column: Same number of books sold. Same titles. Same ranking, same old same old.

How would that attract readership? Why buy XYZ newspaper if I can find the same thing in that one, or some other one or free in a blog? Continue reading “Self-Publishing Part 11: Bestseller, best of and Other lists. Who makes them matters.”

Self-Publishing Part 11: Bestsellers, Best-Ofs, ​and Other lists. Who cares?

Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness

The launch of A Perfect Blindness has finally begun to take coherent shape, and I need to spend more time tending the momentum building. As such, these twice-a-week posts will take a necessary second-row seat in my attention, and will shift to one, perhaps two per week starting in October. Technically this began last week, as I was too busy with getting the website in shape to finish this post. This formally announces the change. Probably on Fridays, or perhaps, or as well, Mondays: Holidays are permitted to foul plans as necessary.

That said, the opacity and downright recondite nature of counting books sold warrants a deeper probe of “Bestseller/Best of” lists, what they mean to whom and how they are created.

So first, who cares about Bestseller/Best of lists and why?

Whole lots of people care, though for different reasons, most falling into one of four broad groups, each with distinct investments in and expectations of these lists: potential readers, list makers, book authors, and closely akin to them, book publishers. For the reader, hitting a Best-whatever list is an attempt to grab a good book to read (or avoid a lousy one) as well as the chance to snag some cultural creed. This random stalker of Best-whatever lists is either actively looking for a book to read, figuring if a book sells better than most right now, it’s better than most out there, or at least, it won’t be lousy: Look at all the people buying it. They might also want in on what people are going to be talking and posting about, staying dialed into what’s hot: looking well informed.

These various lists (which come in flavors like NYT Best Seller, Top 10 Whatever, Most Read X, Most Wished for Y) can be sampled in different degrees of specificity from the very general fiction or non-fiction, split up into hard and soft cover, to the more distinct genres like mystery, all the way down to strictly defined subgenres like period mysteries. Amazon offers 10 subgenres of Thrillers & Suspense, each of which is further broken down into “Bestsellers,” “Most gifted,” “Hot new releases,” “Most wished for” and “Top rated” each offering its own take of what’s best and why. Other lists include “Best New Books by Women Writers,” and so they go on.

Readers can really drill down into one of these lists to find narrow desires, in the flavor that might best satisfy them. These lists winnow down a vast array of books into a manageable number from which to pick. With the top slots appearing more desirable, readers buy more of them. Of course, online this effect is amplified, for the higher a book is listed, the more likely it appears above the fold, and require no scrolling to find it.

Higher sales mean more money of course. That’s the most straightforward outcome of getting on best of/bestseller lists: More units sold, bringing in more cash. But that’s only a part of the goodies that come with appearing on a list like these. It’s a salient fact that appearing popular can make one more popular. James Surdwiecki wrote an excellent essay that explores this idea in depth called “Paying to Play,” which I’ve used to teach Cause-and-Effect Analysis.

Because showing up on one of these lists not only makes one appear popular thus driving one become more popular, it has ripple effects that extend outwards in time. By being a #1 Best/what-have-you-list Author, it’s now easier to get interviews, reviews, speaking gigs, book placements and generally elevates the author’s value. It’s prestige in a pure form. For the future, this appendage to the author’s name will make it easier to get a next book published, as well as sell that book, blurb cooked into the author’s name. In other words, appearing here means more money and opportunities, immediately and going forward.

The book’s publisher feeds off of this as well. It means more money just as for the author. The prestige matters for them as well: Having many #1s this and feature books/writers that makes it easier for the publisher to attract higher caliber talent and better books. It means leverage too: “Look at all the #1 best-selling authors we have. You want to take our offer. They can’t give you this.”

Next time—a quick dive into the arcane mechanics of list creation, before landing back with launching a self-published novel, proper.

 

Know someone who might like this? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To ask a question or follow along with the self-publishing adventure, join the “Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness” here.