Category Archives: Marketing

Writing is like Owning a Mall

For a business owner, one of the hardest goals to achieve is to duplicate your income. For brick and mortar stores, like fast food restaurants or furniture stores, the only way to double your income is to duplicate your location somewhere else.

Like franchising.

The great thing about being a writer is every book you write is akin to another franchised storefront. Some of them will generate more income than others, just like some fast food joints are more profitable than others.

Yet, writing is a bit different. It’s even better. It’s not only like you’re opening another store, but, because of the collective nature of your work (people often read authors as much as they read stories), it’s as if you’re opening more stores in your own mall.

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When people visit your site with a list of books, or Amazon (or other ebook retailer) and see your author page, writing a number of novels is like opening up more shops in the same mall. While the customers are checking out one your “stores,” if they’re interested, they’ll stroll over and check out the one next to it.  And, if you write a novel series, its like creating a series of restaurants located one after the other in your mall, all designed, as a whole, to give you a complete and satisfying meal.

Thanks to the advent of ebook readers and reading apps for phones, there has never been a better time to be a writer in human history. And, because of the availability and freedom associated with the current business model, there has never been a better time to generate “franchisable” income from your work.

Now I just have to finish writing that first novel so I can open up the first of many stores in my mall.

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Inspiration – A Tour of Safety Harbor

Author Pete Bauer gives a tour of Safety Harbor, the small town that he used as inspiration for the setting of the novels.

 

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The Cost of Independent Publishing

Independent publishing is substantially cheaper than its ever been.  With Amazon and other distributors offering to distribute your ebook for a small fee and print your print book on-demand with nearly zero up front costs, publishing your book on your own has never been easier.

However, to be taken seriously in the market and compete against other high quality traditionally and independently published works, it is still going to take an investment, like any other business.  Two must-have items you hear over and over again are quality editing of your manuscript and a professionally designed book cover.

Thanks to the explosion of independent publishing these two necessities can be outsourced to professionals willing to do the work.  But, that has a cost.

In very general terms, book covers can range between $300 – $800 depending on whether or not you want an ebook cover only or a print book cover as well.  It also depends on the designer, how good they are and how busy they are.

editingThe cost variance in book editing is even greater.  First, there are many different types of editing options (proofreading, copy editing, developmental editing, etc.).  Each of these involve different work efforts by the editor and therefore have varying prices.  That being said, for a standard novel (50k – 65k words – which are short novels BTW), it can cost anywhere between $500 – $3,000, depending on the editor.

Let’s take the middle ground of those two very broad ranges, meaning your book cover could cost about $550 and your editing $1750.  That’s a $2300 investment per book.

You sure better be ready to publish and then be VERY patient on getting a return on your investment.  Why?

At the current Amazon 70% return on each ebook sold over $2.99, if you offered your ebook for that price, you get about $2 per sale.  That means you have to sell 1150 books to break even.  For some people, that may not sound like a lot .  For others, that may sound impossible.

To put it into perspective, the average self-published book sells under 200 copies.  That leaves you $1900 in the red.  Granted, most of those self-published books have crappy editing, awful book covers and zero marketing effort.  The numbers are daunting, none-the-less.

Now, some people have contacts or talented friends that can help and you may be able to reduce the cost, but, whatever you decide, do NOT reduce the quality of the end result at the same time.  Writing is an art, but publishing is a business.  You need to go into it with your eyes wide open and with realistic expectations of cost and return-on-investment.

I will say this.  If I have to invest $2300 in my first novel, you can bet your ass I’ll be marketing the living crap out of it.  Otherwise, my Chief Financial Officer (i.e., the wife), won’t allow me near the credit cards again.

I haven’t decided on an editor or a book designer yet, but I’ll let you know when I do and how the process worked for me.

If you’ve had any experience with either editing or book design, please share your insights in the comments section. We’d all love to hear from someone whose been through it.

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Podcast 13 – Marketing and Finding Your Voice

Pete Bauer and Dorothea Bauer talk about the various marketing research and strategies they plan to employ with the release of their first book.  They’ll also talk about the process of finding the correct voice for a novel and how that impacted the other work.


Running Time: 32:27

  • Writing Systems
  • 10 A.M.
  • Don’t Waste Inspiration
  • Approaching from Plot vs. Character
  • Production Schedule
  • Marketing Phases
  • Marketing Strategy
  • How are your Customers Interacting with your Product
  • – Problem Recognition
    • Marketers are Problem Solvers
    • Customers Search for Problem Filler
    • Customers will Research
    • Customers will Try out Product
    • Customers will do their own Evaluation
    • Creating a campaign for each of your Market Segments
  • Bridging those who have Aged Out
  • Marketing Validation, Awareness & Growth
  • Marketing Research & Testing
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Novel Approach
  • Character Introduction
  • Purgatory

 

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The Ampersand Dilemma

Now that we’re turning the novellas into novels, we’ll have to change some of the titles.  Here’s why.

ampersandThe original titles of the five books included an ampersand.  The first two are Water & Blood and Shadows & Lies.  For marketing purposes, we’d want to make all of the titles consistent, so we’re going to change the novellas to include the ampersand as well.

Fortunately, the second novella, Lost & Found, already had one.  The third novella, Tears & Miracles, had one as well.  So, it comes down to renaming novella one, The Homecoming Incident, and the fourth one, Skyway, into ones including an ampersand.

What is frustrating is I love both of those titles, however, when looking at it as a marketing strategy, you want the same look and feel for all of the books.  Like Koontz’s Odd Thomas books, for example.

So, we’re hashing out ideas for what the stories will be retitled as they grow into novels.  The only thing we know for certain is that an ampersand will be in the middle of it.

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Word Count and Finding Your Voice

I finished the first draft of Lost & Found this week and the writing process for this novel allowed me to finally find the correct voice and tone for all of the Gabby Wells novels.  It was weird to me that it took two novels (that have since been trashed) and three novellas to find the voice for the overall storyline.  But, that’s just what happened.

When I was about half way through Lost & Found, when I was making Gabby’s life miserable to biblical proportions, it started to feel right.  When I was actually tapping the words on the keyboard, all of the elements started to coalesce and I felt a creative momentum building.  When I was done with the draft, it made me realize two really important things:

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The first was that I had to now match the tone with the other novellas.  It actually won’t be that hard in Skyway.  But The Homecoming Incident was much lighter and would need to grow darker and more gritty.  I have some ideas which will help and they tie into the second thing I realized.

The second thing was that my brother Paul was right and all of these novellas should actually be turned into novels.  That means adding an additional 10-20k words to each one.  With the new tone and approach, it makes sense that the scope needs to widen and it would need to get darker.  I also want to do a better job of layering in the spiritual elements Gabby deals with too.  Not in a preachy way (I hate that) but in the overall world of the story.  It’ll make more sense if/when you read the books.

This continual shifting in approach does bring with it a level of frustration, however.  I feel like the novels are like a bathtub with the plug pulled and no matter how much I write, the words still spin down the drain.  It’s like I’ll never get finished.  But, I have to move forward because these decisions are the right thing to do.  I just want to be able to check off “done” on one of these manuscripts so I can move onto the editing/book cover phase and get them to market.

And I’m sure, at some point, years from now when all of the novels are completed, people will comment on how it all seemed so planned out from the beginning and I’ll just laugh and send them to my blog entries which show the continuous alterations we’ve made since starting this process years ago.

I just have to keep plugging along.  I have some time over the holiday weekend and I haven’t decided whether to start on the third novella or rewrite The Homecoming Incident first in order to be able to check something off my list.  My heart tells me I should start on the third novella Tears & Miracles, but my impatient brain is telling me to rewrite the first one.  I’ll let you know what I came up with.

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Writing as a Business

Whether you are independently published or traditionally published, the majority of the ownership for your success falls on your shoulders.  It is up to the author to write good stuff, build a fan base, establish beta readers and street teams and marketing plans.

It’s why real writers treat writing as a business.  It’s where the term authorprenuer comes from.  If you treat writing as a business, then your books are your product.  They require planning, time to execute, and a marketing plan.  There should be sales goals, expenditures, statistics, and analysis to know whether you are hitting your mark.

In an attempt to take what I have in my head and turn it into something tangible, I threw together a production schedule.  It’s aggressive.  It’s a rough draft.  It’s more of a what-if than a real plan.  But, by doing so, it put into sharp focus just how much work lay ahead of me.

sample-schedule

From the sample graph, you can see I’ve documented in fiscal quarters which month I will write, which month(s) marketing research needs to be done and when each subsequent marketing phase would occur.  I also added time for research and overlapped the release of the beginning of a new series in the middle of the release of the first series.  I don’t know if that’s a good idea, but I know I don’t want to wait until one series is over before kicking off the second one.

However, by performing this simple exercise of playing around with what-ifs… if I release the novellas three months apart and the novels six months apart, I’ll have 20 novels in seven years.  And for that to occur, I have to write everyday for the next seven years.

Let me say that again.  I have to write everyday for the next seven years.

If anyone ever tells you being a writer sounds easy, show them a schedule like this and let them fully digest the work involved.

As I mentioned, this schedule is a draft.  A guess, at this point.  But, it was eye-opening to do it, to see how much time I’d have to write a novel, when I could be writing two at the same time, and added research time frames as well.

Looking at this I’m both excited and daunted, both of which make me feel like my head will explode.

There’s a 99% chance the actual production schedule won’t look anything like this.  But, you have to start somewhere and, looking at the next seven years, I’m glad I got started sooner than later.

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Word Count and 50,000

Plotting out Lost & Found has really come in handy.  In a week I’ve written nearly 8,000 words.  The story is humming along.  I’m about half-way through, so it should end up in the 30,000 – 40,000 range, like the rest.

GW-Wordcount-061714I have been amazed how changes in the market, or new information I have come across during the learning process, has altered my approach.  These novellas exist because of a podcast I heard a few months ago.  The more I learn, the more I want to set myself up for success.  Sometimes, that requires changing my path.

There is one option out there that I have not yet decided on.

Bookbub is “a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans.”  This has been used extensively, and often with great success, by many independent authors.  Just because you want to use Bookbub doesn’t mean you can.  They are selective about who they promote and you have to meet their criteria.  One of those criteria is that the book has to be at least 50,000 words.

They don’t promote novellas.

Now they also want your book to have great reviews on Amazon and, preferably, critical acclaim from sources other than readers.  So, the word count isn’t the only hurdle, but one of the basic ones.

So, as I write, I wonder, “Should these novellas be short novels instead, 50,000 words, so promotional opportunities could be made available to me?”

I don’t know the answer to that question yet.  I don’t want to add words for the sake of word count.  I want to add words because they make the story better.  As mentioned in a previous blog, Skyway will probably leap over the 50,000 word limit by the time it is done.  But, when I look at the rest of the novellas, I’m not sure almost doubling The Homecoming Incident will make it any better.  And, at this point, Lost & Found doesn’t feel like a 50,000 word short novel.

What does all of this mean?  It means I haven’t made up my mind.

I won’t know for sure until all of the novellas are written. Because, when that is done, I want to look at them as a whole, as one large character arc, and see what has to be altered to maximize their overall effect.  Maybe that process will require additional words.

But will that turn into five 50,000 word short novels?

Only time will tell.

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Podcast 12 – Teen Beta Readers and 145,000 Words

Author Pete Bauer and Dorothea Bauer discuss the impact of the novellas on the novels, causing for a rewrite of novels 1 and 2.  Plus the lessons learned from Teen Beta Readers.


Running Time: 41:59

  • Teen Beta Readers
  • Specific Expectations
  • 145,000 Words
  • A Professional Endeavor
  • Art Show
  • Facebook Art
  • Polite Critiques
  • Annoying Analysis
  • Aging Well
  • Novella Novels
  • Semi-Mysterious Mysteries
  • Lost & Found
  • Inspiring Stories
  • The Center of Attention
  • Communicating Art
  • Evolving Industry
  • It Clicks
  • Reading Consumption
  • Traditional Limitations
  • Author Earnings
  • Give and Take
  • Truthful Characters

 

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Pet Peeve

I hate wasting my time.

It’s a pet peeve.  Just ask my kids.  The two main lines they knew not to cross were:

  1. don’t disrespect my wife (their mother)
  2. don’t waste my time.

I’m not saying all of the time with my kids had to be focused and serious.  Of course not.  Spending an hour having imaginary tea with my daughter or spending countless hours with my son at the ball field is absolutely NOT wasting time.  It’s what time is for.

wastedtimeBut, fooling around when they’re helping with chores?  Wasting my time.  Making me run to Walmart at 12 AM because they realized they needed to write a paper that is due the next day and didn’t think to check if we had printer ink?  Wasting my time.

So, to find out the podcast we recorded last night had to be scrapped due to a microphone issue, well, to say I was happy about that would be an understatement.

Now we’ll have to re-record.  More wasted time.  Well, not totally wasted, as I think they have value and people seem to enjoy them.  But, you know what I mean.

Anyway, that’s my vent for today.  I feel better.

Time well spent. 🙂

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