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”

ROI: Is Writing a Book a Good Investment in Your Business?

selling-sold-sold-paidFiction authors might want to find something else to read. Today we’re all business.

Selling books is no way to make money. But you’re a business person and you know that some things that don’t directly earn money are still vital to the sales process.

Does a book fit into that picture?

Let’s talk numbers.

… more … “ROI: Is Writing a Book a Good Investment in Your Business?”

Story Cartel Just Doesn’t Add Up for Me

Story CartelShort version: unless greater benefits roll in over time, I didn’t get anything from Story Cartel which I couldn’t have done just as well myself, without spending $25.

Update: maybe it was me —> Read more

Big Ol’ Nonsense Alert

Stop the presses and hold everything. Fellow writer Libi Astaire pointed out a line in the drawing rules I’d missed:

Every reader who downloads a book gets one entry.

They are rewarded for downloading your book, whether or not they have any intent on reading it, any interest whatsoever.

This violates my primary principle of free: it is not a price, it is a strategy.

“Here, download this” is not a strategy.

The founders of Story Cartel are authors. And they may be good at marketing their service. But they have a long way to go to be good at marketing our books for us.

Long version:

Your genre or network may deliver completely different outcomes, so this isn’t a sweeping condemnation of the tool. It does what it claims to do. My book was exposed to a wider audience, and I got reviews. It just didn’t add enough value to offset the cost.

During the experiment, I got two 4-star reviews from Story Cartel readers. In the same time period I got two 4-star reviews plus one 5-star review from my own network.

Some folks responded to my email to the 23 addresses Story Cartel provided. At least a dozen, more than half, didn’t participate in any manner beyond downloading the book. No review, no response to my two emails, nothing.

One old friend tried to download, couldn’t sort it out, and bought a print version instead. There’s a sale which may have been triggered by Story Cartel, but was consummated because he’s been a friend for 20 years. (I offered him a free copy, but he graciously wanted to reward me for my effort.)

… more … “Story Cartel Just Doesn’t Add Up for Me”

Writer Unboxed

Another from Tom Bentley‘s stash. He’s gonna have to ante up another pile if I keep this up.

Don’t go here if you don’t want to get sucked in. I was just checking Tom’s link below, and had finished the entire article I landed on before I remembered that wasn’t what I was there for.

Writer Unboxed is not a single writer, but a site that hosts daily posts on issues of writing craft, the business and the vagaries of the writing life. Tom Bentley The posters run the range from aspiring writers to authors with decades of experience and decades of publishing success. And the spirit of the site is open, generous and deep. (And they’ve even let me post a few times, despite my hairdo.)

p.s. Tom studiously and modestly avoided providing a link to his articles at Writer Unboxed so I’m doing it for him. Or to him.

p.p.s. I like Tom’s hair. Don’t you?

What Question Can You Answer Best? (Guest Post by Phil Wrzesinski )

I’ve known Phil for some time. His intense love for his family sometimes outshines the fact that he is a brilliant marketer and incredible teacher.

?My first book started writing itself the day a local childcare owner asked me, “Phil, I shop a lot, and I have to say, your store has the best customer service I’ve ever encountered. What is your secret?”

The short answer was simple. I hire good people.

She pressed me further. “Can you do a presentation to our Child Care Association about it?”

Sure.

Now I needed a longer answer. Fortunately, the answer was there and pretty soon I had a presentation and the outline for a book.

The funny thing is that I never set out to write a book. I think the book had a life of its own, born when the question was asked. At least a dozen times throughout the process I wondered what made me think I was capable of writing a book. Mostly I ignored that thought and kept writing. After all, I was just answering a question.

Your business has the answer to a question, too. There is something you do better than most other businesses. You have a philosophy, a reason, a method for why you do what you do and how it makes your business better. It may be one of your own design, or one you stole from someone else, or one you pieced together from several sources. Someone has probably already asked you why or how you do what you do.

You just have to start writing it down.

My second book started the same way – with a question.

… more … “What Question Can You Answer Best? (Guest Post by Phil Wrzesinski )”

Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing & Marketing and I Didn’t Write It

This is the book you were looking for.

Write. Publish. Repeat. is the book I was writing, in fact. Except I didn’t write it. A couple even more experienced and successful guys beat me to the punch.

Barring my note below, this is the book I was writing. Mine was going to be called Commonsense Zero-Cost DIY Marketing for Authors.

Try as I might, I can’t find a reason to invest the time and creative energy into duplicating a book that already exists.

… more … “Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing & Marketing and I Didn’t Write 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?”

Self-Publishing Jump Start and Long Game

Writing to make a profit in 2013 requires either wild blind luck or choosing to write over-the-line sexual encounters. For this brief moment in history, books are a commodity: far more supply than demand.

Stick with it for 5 years, and the opportunists will have faded away or been pruned by market response.

For now, write because you have something to say. Word toward making a profit 5 years from now.

If you understand that self-publishing is a business which is connected to but not the same as the art of writing, you’re light-years ahead of many other authors.

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/873643 by K Rayker http://www.sxc.hu/profile/krayker
… more … “Self-Publishing Jump Start and Long Game”

Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1126065 by BarbaraDin http://www.sxc.hu/profile/BarbaraDinA longer diatribe about marketing your self-published book. This is a year-long class, which I’d be glad to give if y’all are interested.

Publishing is in the greatest upheaval since Gutenberg. Supporters of traditional publishing will tell you it’s the only choice, or you’re not a real author.

I’ll take the opposing view: the only rational choice, from both the artistic and commercial perspectives, is to pick yourself, own the process, and reap the rewards. Here’s why:
… more … “Marketing Your Books in the New Age of Publishing”