Happy Holidays everyone! PJ Sharon here, writing to talk with you about recipes. I’m not talking about my recipe for my fabulous homemade cranberry-pear sauce which you can find over on the Scribe’s savory treats page.
I’m talking about a recipe for success.
I’m a relative newbie to the publishing industry and working hard to figure out the ins and outs of what it takes to succeed in this complex and unpredictable business. What I’ve learned so far I can boil down to this:
Product + Product Placement + Visibility + Consumer Satisfaction = Success
Let me break this down:
1) You need a quality Product. That’s easy, right? Write a great book. Okay…easy is a relative term here, but you get the gist. Create a stunning cover, hire a fabulous editor, and put out a professional product. Hard work for sure, but this is a no brainer.
2) Product Placement refers to getting your work out there in as many sales channels as possible to make it accessible for your readers. As an indie author with little hope of ever seeing my books on a shelf in B&N, I need to have a wide, on-line distribution plan. Heaven Is For Heroes is available on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Books On Board, Good reads, and I’m looking at All Romance e-readers. I have the first chapters of my books available on Wattpad and excerpts on my website as well. Also on the to-do list is to contact libraries and try to get my books distributed to public as well as High School libraries. This is a time consuming endeavor and is on my schedule for the first quarter of 2012 (or when I can eventually afford to hire a personal assistant, hahaha).
Sidebar: There is another school of thought that narrowing your distribution to just Amazon will help to drive your ranking toward the top 100 list faster because all of your sales will be there. I’m of the mind that I want my books to be found wherever readers are, so using multiple distribution channels fits that model.
3) Visibilty is by far the hardest and probably the most important and laborious ingredient in my recipe. Blogging, tweeting, FB, blog tours, book signings, and generally hoing the book and yourself out to whoever will listen, and doing this without making a nuisance of yourself, seems to be what it takes to sell books. I’m all for working smarter, not harder and I’m trying to gain an understanding of how to not only reach readers but those readers who have purchase power. These are two different animals in the YA world. Teens are reading books, but parents are still the ones buying the books. So although my target audience is teen readers who will say to Mom or Dad, “I’ve got to have PJ Sharon’s latest book or I’ll simply die,” it’s Mom or Dad who is forking over the cash for said book, and will want to know what they are buying and why they should buy it. Thus, my target audience is also adults, whether they read Contemporary YA or are buying it for the teens in their lives. This is a good thing in that it gives me a broader target market, but not so good in terms of focusing my efforts. I’m still figuring out how a pinch of this and a dash of that will affect my sales in the long run. I’ll keep you posted on what’s working and what’s not.
4) This leads me to Customer Satisfaction. If the cranberry-pear sauce is too sour or too sweet, or gives you indigestion, you aren’t likely to make it again. Nor will you necessarily trust my next recipe. I think every writer worries that their next book might not be as good as their last book and that with every new effort, they risk ridicule and failure. Artistic angst is like chocolate for the doubt monster. But somewhere along the line, you have to believe that if you work hard and put your best product out into the world, chances are someone will love it. Those are the people who will follow you anywhere and buy all the books you write–your customer who you will work and slave to please, because they are the wonderful people who are supporting your ability to sit down and write another cool story. There will certainly be those people who don’t love your product for various reasons, but as one wise writer once said, “then that isn’t your audience.” Not everyone loves cranberries. However, if I’ve done my job and written a great book, produced a professional product, and made it accessible and visible to readers who want to find it, there should be nothing stopping me from reaching my goal to succeed as a published author.
Join me next week, when I’ll define what those goals are and see if they might be your goals too. Congratulations to Stephanie Queen who won a copy of Heaven Is For Heroes for leaving a comment on last Tuesday’s blog. To further thank my supporters, Heaven Is For Heroes is up for sale for .99 through the end of December. If you haven’t gotten a copy, now’s your chance to get it at a great price! You can order it through Amazon, B&N, or Smashwords.
I’d love for you to share YOUR recipe for success!