Free is Not a Price and Hope is Not a Business Plan

Prepare for a long rambling rant with overtones of self-analysis.

I have written before about using free as a strategy, not a price.

Please, make business decisions based on evidence, a plan, not hoping and wishing.

I’ve read mention of people giving away tens of thousands of digital downloads of their book, and receiving a few dozen reviews and the equivalent of $700 in related sales.

If the effort involved is minimal and the reward is $700, I guess I can see that. I suppose I have to reserve judgment until I have more data.

Yes, I want lots of people to read my books.

What I don’t want is for lots of people to just line up and download my books. It’s not the same thing.

free-get-in-line

… more … “Free is Not a Price and Hope is Not a Business Plan”

That Don’t Make NO Sense

I could probably title every post I ever write with a quote from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

When Pete says the above to Everett, his reply is one of the foundations of art: “It’s a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”

chess: logic and art and art and logic

During the final proofreading of A Long, Hard Look James discovered a logical anomaly. Since that’s part of his job, he done good. Next book he proofs, I expect no less.

I’m leaving it the way it is. Here’s why: … more … “That Don’t Make NO Sense”

Mixing Up My Art

Many artists don’t confine themselves to a single medium. You may know that besides writing nine non-fiction books and working on my second, third, fourth, and fifth mysteries all at once (whew!) I’m also a songwriter.

Writing songs with lyrics that don’t rhyme, or lyrics that don’t make any sense; writing songs with short lines, long lines; story songs, message songs, love songs, pain songs — I’m far more confident playing with words in my fiction than I was before I invested 10 years learning the craft of songwriting.

tunehenge

… more … “Mixing Up My Art”

This is How it Works in Real Life: Working with an Illustrator

Here’s the fun post for the week: developing the art for chapter 1 of Ginger, the Ship Captain’s Cat, which is what Davina and I were doing earlier this week.

From the top, my original email to Davina with her responses and work. We’d had a series of informal intermittent conversations about Ginger; this is where we did the work.

# # #

Joel: Here’s a composite I slapped together.

What I’m hoping for is a simple line drawing: window, cat outline, Japanese buildings hinted through the window. Simple simple simple, not complicated. I’d love to see a 5-minute sketch to give you feedback before you spend much time on this. Is that possible?

Note regarding the ‘5 minutes’ request: I know how artists are ’cause I are one. Part of my madness is to nudge my collaborators out of their comfort zone, especially when I know the results will suit my needs better.

… more … “This is How it Works in Real Life: Working with an Illustrator”

Technical Issues to Consider When Working with an Illustrator

artist at workYesterday’s post about finding and working with an illustrator focused on the soft stuff: art, personality, style.

Today, let’s chat about bits and formats and whatnot.

Once you’ve settled on a visual collaborator for your book, neither of you should assume the other knows all the technical stuff. Assume a blank slate. Talk about everything. Much of it is a collaborative artistic conversation, not simply a technical or printing issue.

For instance:

… more … “Technical Issues to Consider When Working with an Illustrator”

A Special Arrogance for Writers

image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1436210 by Billy Alexander http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ba1969Thinking your fan base is “everyone” is the wrong kind of arrogance.

Knowing that some people won’t get you, but that your fans will be even more delighted to be insiders because of it . . . I guess that’s not arrogance, is it?

Should Your Book Title Be Good Marketing?

Perhaps apocryphal: the three words that sell are free, sex, and win. Theoretically, if the headline of your ad was Win Free Sex, you’d strike it rich.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/573750 by bharath pasupuleti http://www.sxc.hu/profile/boycuteObviously not.

While no rational person would go to that extreme to sell something they believed in, do you sometimes allow business considerations to affect your art? … more … “Should Your Book Title Be Good Marketing?”

What Are You Willing to Risk for Your Art?

Entrepreneurs love to talk about risk, especially the risks they take to bring their products and services to market.

They always seem to be talking about money. They invest heavily in their creation and if it doesn’t take off they could lost it all.

I have yet to hear one of these risk-takers say they’ll lose everything they own.

Even that isn’t what’s scary.

If running out of money is the worst thing you can imagine you don’t have much imagination.

Maslow's Heirarchy: the higher you go . . .

… more … “What Are You Willing to Risk for Your Art?”

Write ‘Em All and Let the Market Sort ‘Em Out

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1420666 by Vaughan Willis http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BonganiHere is why anyone is allowed to write a book despite the outcry from traditional publishing. It’s why a market full of substandard books doesn’t destroy anything.

Let’s use something entirely different as an analogy.

Let’s say somebody wants to open a new restaurant in town. The other 10 restaurateurs suspect the new chef doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Does that give them the right to prevent that restaurant from opening? I think not.

Let’s go extreme.

… more … “Write ‘Em All and Let the Market Sort ‘Em Out”