Snippets of wisdom and encouragement for authors…

Recently I finished reading The The Indie Author Power Pack: How to Write, Publish, and Market Your Book (nonfiction) by David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Sean Penn, Johnny B. Truant. All three books in the boxed set offered tips and advice, and I highlighted like crazy.

Much of the advice that resonated with me came from the book, Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny Truant. I’d like to share some of their nuggets of wisdom. My comments are in italics.

“Most movies fail. It’s a fact of Hollywood. Same holds true for books. You shouldn’t be looking for blockbusters, you should be thinking about gathering readers. Each time you run a free promotion (for example) you are introducing more people to your work. Some of those people will be your lifetime readers, or ‘true fans.’

“The theory of 1,000 true fans states that an artist (not just writers, but musicians, filmmakers, carpenters, whatever) need only acquire 1,000 true fans to make a living at their art….True fans don’t just give you a great career; they help you to sustain it. But it’s your job to earn them, and the only way to do that is one reader at a time.”

My reaction: I had a very successful year financially, but I don’t take it for granted. The concept of  1,000 fans makes success seem achievable. I don’t think I have a 1,000 fans, but that’s not such a huge number that it seems unattainable.

“Twenty percent of the things you can choose to do in a venture will get you 80 percent of your desired results. Conversely, if you choose poorly, you can spend a ton of extra time doing the 80 percent of the activities that do almost nothing.”

“Sometimes entreprenuers, authors and author-entreprenuers think that they need to do everything. “Will it increase sales? They’ll ask. And if the answer is, “It may!” or “Probably somewhat,” they figure they should do it because every little bit counts, and small amounts add up. That’s true, but the decision to do things that may help and couldn’t hurt usually stems from a false thought; the belief that you can do it all. You can’t do it all, so you must choose carefully.”

Whew! I’m familiar with the 80/20 rule. I’ve always tried to focus on doing three or four things well, than spreading myself thinly over a multitude of activities, but it’s easy to get sidetracked by all that is available and to be swayed by what other authors are doing. It’s nice to have my strategy validated.

“Having an actual career (rather than a time-intensive hobby) requires actually pleasing readers. Self-publishing isn’t about writing and doing whatever you want; it’s about having a direct pipeline to the people consuming your work.”

Which is why backmatter and a newsletter are so critical for indie authors. I’m kicking myself for not starting my newsletter sooner.  (LOL, love the phrase time-intensive hobby)

“Get one book that makes $200 per month, then create another 20 or 30 like it over time. Two hundred dollars per month is in no way a big hit, but it’s good. And achievable.”

An achievable standard of success!

“You can’t please everyone. That’s OK. Ideal, actually. You don’t want to be a writer who’s mildly appealing to a lot of people. It’s better to be a writer who is absolutely loved by a smaller number. Remember the 1,000 true fans? If you have 1,000 people who truly love you, you’ll have an extraordinary career.”

“It’s tempting to embrace an ‘all who will have me’ sort of mentality, trying to find ways to please the maximum number of readers. This is usually a mistake. In order to gain truly widespread approval, you must be as neutral as possible. No type of fiction is universally loved, so in order to move closer and closer to universal approval, you have to offer less and less of a ‘type’ of fiction. Everyone is OK with a blank piece of paper, but the minute you start putting words on it, you’ll start losing the people who don’t like those words.”

This is especially true of spanking fiction. Some people don’t “get it.” That’s okay. They’re not the readership  base. This applies to all genre fiction, whether it is spanking romance, or sci-fi or historical. What some readers would never consider, other readers love. I’ve read (or at least started) a lot of bland contemporary romances. It was like the authors had tried to write something that appealed to the greatest number of people but the result was…boring.

“There’s a problem with relying on booksellers, social media, or various other online communities for your platform…all of the above are examples of platforms owned by other parties, and it’s a big mistake to rely on a platform you don’t own, and hence, control. We first heard Sonia Simone from Copyblogger use the term “digital sharecropping,” referring to the idea of building you assets on someone else’s property…Your axis of connection to readers should ultimately be your own website and mailing list.”

Authors are experiencing the effects of digital sharecropping with Facebook’s business page changes and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which many feel has resulted in a drop in revenue for authors.

“Writing more is almost always the best way to find readers, and writing more is almost always the best way to turn some of those readers into true fans. The truth is seldom glamorous.

Write the next book! Conventional advice.

“Ballsy people, if they’re intelligent and learn from their mistakes, shape the world. The thing that few people get is that ballsy people aren’t any more certain than anyone else…Take small risks. Risk being incorrect. Risk being laughed at. Risk your mother disapproving of your latest book…Failure is big picture thing, and you can’t fail unless you give up.”

I want to be ballsy. I’m going rogue, baby!

♥ ♥ ♥

All three books in the Indie Power Pack are good. Sometimes they got a little heavy (especially Write, Publish, Repeat) on the self-promotion, but the book is motivational and contains a lot of good advice and tips.

The Indie Power Pack on Amazon (includes Write, Publish, Repeat)

Write, Publish, Repeat as an individual download

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16 Responses to Snippets of wisdom and encouragement for authors…

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing this information.

    Sometimes when I’m getting discouraged I think about great actors who have movies that flop and realize not everything is going to be a blockbuster, but you just have to keep going.

    Yes, let’s be ballsy. 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Exactly. Not every movie or TV show is a hit. Actors have gone from the top of their game to the skids. And many other “character actors” have worked continuously and steadily in show business their entire lives. They never become stars, but they make a living.

  2. fantastic!
    loved the part about not trying to achieve the blockbuster- just get the gradual readers.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Cara
    🙂

  3. Livia Grant says:

    As always, a helpful post. I have read this book too and had highlighted many of the same tidbits. I liked it but like you, noted a bit too much self promotion that got old. I totally agree with them that we can’t count on other platforms for our connection to readers alone. I need to spend more time on building my mailing list. Your blogging over the years has a big draw for your fans and should be paying off for you. Love your ballsy comment. I would argue you doing a sci-fi series was somewhat ballsy at the time and it really paid off for you.
    ~Livia

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Yeah, I started skimming over big chunks because of the self-promotion, but despite that, I thought the book was worthwhile. As far as me writing sci-fi, yes, I consider that one of my bold moves–as was going Indie. I have a couple other ballsy moves coming up.

      I’m taking a big chance with The Goddess’s Curse (March 15 release date), and I have a sooper sekrit book that will be released very soon (maybe before The Goddess’s Curse), which represents yet another new direction for me.

  4. Alta Hensley says:

    That was a great post and needed. Every author needs a pep talk sometimes and a reminder.

  5. I have this book on my Kindle, but haven’t read it yet. Sounds like it needs to move up in the TBR pile.

  6. Rollin Hand says:

    This looks like a book I need to read. Glad you brought this to everyone’s attention, Cara. I especially like the bit about not trying to be all things to all readers. As the great Popeye once said, “I yam what I yam.”

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Spanking fiction authors get 1 & 2 star reviews from readers who just don’t like spanking fiction and will never like spanking fiction no matter how the author might write it. I loved the comment about the moment you put words on page, you’ve already alienated some readers. That’s so true.

  7. Siobhan Muir says:

    Great post, Cara. I’m finding a lot of that, too, and yes, be bold and determined. Me, too. 🙂

  8. Melody Parks says:

    This is all wonderful advice. I am grateful that you are always so willing to share your accomplishments and what has worked for you so far. You’re an inspiration to us all, Cara. ☺

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