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So Ewe Wants to Rite da Book?

Corey Bradshaw - tentacles-of-destruction

Corey Bradshaw – Tentacles of Destruction

Due to the emergence of self publishing there has been a rise in people who maintain a series of beliefs which, heretofore, would have been considered untenable. I mean they would have gotten someone laughed out of a junior high English class. These people believe, and foist proof of those malignable beliefs on us at every opportunity, there are no rules. That all writing is valid if the author claims it is. That all petunias are squids if they say so. To those of you who ignore grammar, punctuation, structure, coherent plotting, logical thought, or other silly fads of the past, I have one simple thing to say to you… STOP! Just stop. Stop writing, stop wasting Create Space’s server space, stop wasting our time. Just come to a full halt and then step to the side. Because I know what’s coming.

I was in the music industry for many years and saw what happened at i-Tunes and CD Baby. When those services went live anyone with a digital recording device and some free time could call themselves a musician. Within five years each company had built in restrictions, and limitations, to weed out the hobbyists. And, let’s be honest, most of the self published stuff is done by people as a hobby. Very few put in the years learning to write, experiencing rejection, or being crucified by their, oh so cruel yet supportive, peers. They just bundle up their Word Doc, or Open Office thing, and hit send.

Self published comics used to have a shot at being distributed by Diamond, the company with the monopoly on U.S. comic book distribution but, thanks to the wealth of “great ideas” matched with poor execution, now face a labyrinth of restrictions and fees. In Diamond’s case, if you don’t have a minimum of $2,500 per release available for promotion, don’t even bother ringing their doorbell.

Before you tell me I’m being a curmudgeon, and hating on you fun loving literary iconoclasts, know that Create Space has already dropped all support services for self published authors. The last marketing article they published is over a year old, the rest are almost three years old and no longer valid, except in the abstract. Within two years they will have enough barriers in place to stem the flood of drivel and then they can begin sifting for gems.

To be clear, Create Space will continue to exist. If you want to publish your book, and buy copies for your friends and family, nothing will stop you. But your path to a wider readership will be greatly narrowed. If you haven’t been already you will be encouraged to join KDP Select, until you have no choice, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. However, this will keep you out of many other markets. This will allow Amazon, and the rest, to develop a self publishing ghetto.

Oh, I know, this doesn’t pertain to you. You are a serious practitioner of your craft. You’ve seen two or three memes and your mom thinks you’re the bee’s knees. Plus, and this is the super really important part, you have a story you never saw in any of those memes.

Since you don’t know me, and probably wouldn’t like me anyway, allow me to crush your silly dreams.

Writing, like neurosurgery, is a craft. You don’t want some wanna-be brain surgeon, who just saw something on YouTube they think they can handle, operating on your loved one. The same, minus the life threatening implications, applies to writing.

It requires years of study and practice. If you think Strunk and White is a rap group, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think On Writing follows On Dancer, On Dasher, et al, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think a subjunctive clause is an alien Santa, you should not pretend to be a writer. If you think a dangling participle is something on a stripper’s outfit, you should not pretend to be a writer.

I could go on but, by now, you’re either laughing your ass off or pissed at me. If the former, congrats, you can write. Or, at the very least, read constructively.

You see, what happens is, the flotsam and jetsam of drek clogs up the pathways and prevents readers from being able to find works worthy of their attention. To that end Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others, are tweaking their search engines. As Create Space has less and less influence over the next couple of years you’ll see self published books eased out of rankings, search results, and so on. Publishers, even if they’re just indies, will be given preference, just like they are in the music and comic book industries.

It’s simple economics. When something has a failure rate of nearly ninety-five percent the market adjusts. Vanity presses might seem like a viable resource for some, but they come with their own baggage. Often they buy reviews, inflate social media numbers, and are generally shunned by distributors, both digital and traditional. Worse, they tend to hand out meaningless awards, for a fee, to inflate an author’s ego and confuse the market.

Please note, there are a couple of vanity presses tied to traditional publishing companies. They exist to make money and, if something catches the eye of an editor, present new authors to the parent company when their book released. It’s still going to cost you, but at least they’re honest about what they do and what your chances are. Slim is a word heard often. Also, they don’t flood the market with crap posts and fake links.

Since I can already hear the “They’re out to screw the little guys” chants allow me to rebut them here. No, they’re not. Self published authors screwed themselves. Badly and without lube. The plethora of drivel dumped out each day is whelming, to say the least.

While there are self published authors who release high quality stuff, and generate sales from same, they are the minority. And, good news for them, there are safeguards already in place to ensure they don’t get caught up in the swirling cesspool that will soon drag many into blissful oblivion. Those in the minority already receive email updates from Amazon, et al, explaining the future so I need not go into them here. If you haven’t gotten such a missive, well, I hope you know how to swim.

For the rest they will be required to treat writing like the business it is. Have a plan, a marketing budget, clear sales parameters, and a professional package to present the world. In other words, treat the product of your craft with respect and your potential readers with the esteem they deserve.

If you must have a hobby that wastes everyone’s time, and your money, CLICK HERE to accomplish all your goals.

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35 thoughts on “So Ewe Wants to Rite da Book?

  1. GD Deckard says:

    I love refreshing blogs. 🙂
    By that, I mean a cold hard look at the current book industry is like a cold shower. Bracing. And this one makes us aware of real possibilities.

    Retailers actively screening for quality books to sell? Yes! Consider the current situation: How does it help your book sales to be dumped into an Amazon bin of eleventy-million other books?

    I hope this “active-search-for-books-worth-marketing” future is here by the time I’ve finished my WiP.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GD Deckard says:

    Bill,
    Feel free to post an author’s bio on our Authors page.
    & don’t think you have to leave out the “…rambunctious redhead (formerly a bottle blonde) who keeps waking up in his bed.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike says:

    I have never believed in any sales site as a marketing aid. Rankings are gamed, are they not? Ratings, ditto. We must do our own marketing. I will publicize my web site and hope that visitors, having sampled my wares, will head to Amazon to buy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • billmcscifi says:

      Yes, rankings and ratings can be, and are, gamed. That is one of the big things that is being corrected now. As to the rest, you are right, you have to have a marketing plan if you hope to stand out.

      Liked by 2 people

        • victoracquista says:

          Agree with you; however, there is a skill set to marketing and promoting. You can be very skilled at the craft of writing but fail miserably at the marketing and promoting and this may reflect in your sales #s. You can also be a poor writer and an excellent marketer and this will reflect in your sales.

          Liked by 3 people

        • billmcscifi says:

          That is 100% true. And as others noted, being a great writer doesn’t mean you’re a great marketer. Or visa versa. That is why treating your craft like a business is a must if you want to do more than impress your mom. Hire those who can do what you cannot. Get referrals, not promises, and go win the internet.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. Perry Palin says:

    I confess, I am a hobbyist. No more than that. And I turn away from this hobby regularly in season for all sorts of diversions, hoeing a bean field; cross country skiing; trout fishing; grandfathering, picking blueberries; training (or trying to train) horses; beekeeping; volunteering for any one of several organizations or causes.

    My writing credits include paid and unpaid articles and stories in small magazines and small journals, and two short story collections published by a small traditional house. I am flattered occasionally by people who pick me out in a crowd and ask when my next book will be available. I am currently in the submission/rejection phase for my first novel. I haven’t gone to self publishing for the reasons you outline.

    So then, what should I do? How should I position my writing to get it into the hands of readers? I have a plan, a budget, some energy, and I treat my readers well. What steps, exactly, will help me?

    Liked by 4 people

    • billmcscifi says:

      Without knowing what genre you are in, or what kind of support you have gotten from readers, I can’t really say. However, one thing I have learned is that a self published book that does poorly is a death knell to publishers. They will see no reason to pick you up. But, good reviews, a track record with other works, and some effort on your part, I would suggest looking for an agent and taking it from there.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Bill,

    Welcome aboard. Love the article and I did laugh more than I felt offended, so great job. You are so right about self publishing have the image of amateur hour. It definitely hurts us all if nothing else by sheer volume of poorly published works.

    But, it does help us when we write a killer novel. It will stand out like gold among the trash. That might be our greatest advantage.

    rob

    Liked by 4 people

    • billmcscifi says:

      As someone who recently read “Brian, his hunky hair hanging in a manly way about his shoulders, strode into the cockpit of the ship to lead his crew into space” I’m a firm believer in not letting stuff like that loose on the public.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mimispeike says:

    I don’t understand how books are going to be weeded out. A CD you can hear in a few minutes and decide. It seems to me that a book would take a lot more time and effort.

    Liked by 4 people

    • billmcscifi says:

      A couple of ways. Barnes and Noble already sets a minimum number sales, 5,000 as of this post, before they will consider a self published book for sale in their stores.Amazon’s brick and mortar stores are following suit. Also, by removing the free marketing tools they will further push hobbyists to the side. Then, the stuff you find online or in a store has, at least, a chance of having been vetted, just like that CD you bought.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. victoracquista says:

    I think there is truth to the reality you describe. As I said in my reply to Mimi, poor writers who are good marketers can be very “successful” authors. I have read more books than I care to remember (mostly because they are not worth remembering and they are too numerous to count) that are not self published and they manage to do quite well in sales. Lousy writing typified by such things as: underdeveloped characters, ridiculous plot contrivances, stereotypical, poor story arc, etc.

    The problem you describe has a lot to do with the ocean of crap writing; however, a lot of that crap still sells. How does Amazon determine what is good writing? If sales is the metric, it’s a poor metric when you consider that a lot of bad writing sells.

    What is the solution? When people who do not write well still sell lots of books and people who do write well sell few books, a fundamental flaw exists. Notwithstanding differences in taste and judgement when it comes to art–books, music, paintings and so on–sales is a poor indicator of quality. Just tune in the radio for confirmation.

    Any more and I might digress into a rant. A serious writer who writes well deserves recognition and separation from the true flotsam and jetsam of drek, but search engines and algorithms still place them in that category while some crap authors float like turds in a punch bowl.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Perry Palin says:

      I’m betting that for publishers and Amazon, the metric is sales. They’re in business to make money.

      Years ago I knew a professional artist (painter, wood carver, sculptor) who joined with other artists to open a retail shop on the nearby tourist route. They had some pretty nice stuff for sale. A woman in the area asked to place her “art” in the store, baby chicks she made from styrofoam egg cartons and pipe cleaners. Some thought her chicks were not “art” but after a discussion of “what is art anyway, and who are we to say,” they placed the chicks in the store. She blew everyone else away with her sales, and couldn’t keep up with demand for her styrofoam chicks.

      Liked by 3 people

      • atthysgage says:

        That story is both the saddest and funniest thing I have heard in a while.

        Of course, styrofoam chicks were probably some of the lowest-priced items in the shop, which must have helped. On the other hand, I’ve tried selling my books for 99 cents apiece, and it hasn’t resulted in a sales glut.

        This is an interesting conversation. I wish I had some anwers. I tried for years to find an agent. It was harder than gettting published. I had more success pitching books directly to small presses. BUT the small presses have almost no marketing clout, so it’s not much of an improvement over self pubbing.

        Liked by 4 people

    • billmcscifi says:

      Your concerns are valid but there are some things you need to consider. Amazon’s algorithms aren’t just based on sales. They consider reviews, marketing plans, and sales consistency. Additionally, bought reviews (like vanity presses try to offer) or flooding reviews with family members, are now almost impossible. Also bulk buys, a common practice fro less scrupulous authors, are now a thing of the past when considering how a book gets noticed (unless it’s a bulk buy from something like Walmart, then you’re fine). Simply put, if you’re treating your work professionally you won’t get dumped into the self publishing ghetto,

      Liked by 3 people

      • victoracquista says:

        What you say is true. I’ve listened to some webinars about Amazon algorithms and the variables that determine things such as sales ranking. However, getting reviews is another aspect here that often says little. A well written book may get few reviews and a poorly written review may get a lot of reviews. Clearly, a lot of highly rated reviews helps in the sales ranking and whether or not they are bunched or spaced can play a factor. I do not think that the algorithms do much to separate good from poor writing. With a very generous marketing and sales budget a poorly written book can do well. I can run repeated $0.99 sales promotions through a variety of book promotion services and have a best seller (meanwhile I have spent far more in promotional costs than is generated by sales). That says very little about the quality of the writing. There are limits in so far as something that is absolutely wretched may be difficult to promote to success.

        Liked by 2 people

        • billmcscifi says:

          Those limits you mention are a part of the problem, to be sure, that’s why the new KDP Direct program (which limits discounts and freebies dramatically) is one step in the right direction. Other actions, such as weighing promotions a little heavier, will help those who do buy in to them. As to reviews, that’s one issue that’s tough to address. If I had one review for every sale I’d be an amazon monster. I know they liked book 1 since they went and bought #’s 2 & 3. You don’t buy the whole set if you hate the first book. But I too suffer a paucity of reviews.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Who wants to be a millionaire author? | willmacmillanjones

  9. GD Deckard says:

    I wouldn’t count algorithms out as a way to examine content and decide if a book will sell. Yes, that would stifle creativity if the only new books marketed were like those which had sold. But I can see that working for awhile. Until some creative rebellious genius shakes the market up and causes the algorithms to accomodate his or her work. Reminds me of the refrain. “There goes the old algorithm, here comes the new algorithm.” And we’ll, “Smile and grin at the change all around.”
    ( 🙂 Now, WHO said that?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • mimispeike says:

      Crap, GD! Are we going be inundated with ‘The hottest motorcycle threesome you’re ever going to read’? (Not that we’re not already. Just look at the promos on Facebook.)

      ‘Get ready to read the hottest book you’ll ever find. Texas Heat Series – Book two.’ Just bopped over to FB, there this was, hit me smack in the face like a whipped cream pie.

      And then there are the moronic fairy-tale romances.

      Give me Lady Chatterly’s Lover any old day.

      Liked by 2 people

      • GD Deckard says:

        Yup, Mimi 🙂 if a book is successful, it is imitated.
        But it’s all normal. Think of the heyday of sit-coms & the spinoffs. Or a great movie spawning sequels ad nauseum. It seems we humans are good at learning but our behavior never changes.

        Like

  10. mimispeike says:

    Another promo on FB:

    I will never need another the way I need her. The connection has grown, and it has taken all I am not to pin her a** to the nearest wall and take her again and again.

    Wow! Fifteen reviews on Amazon: 14 at five stars, 1 at four stars. A winner, for sure!

    It’s probably far more fun reading these lame promos than reading the book itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • billmcscifi says:

      The romance genre has its own weird cult. I belong to a mommy porn page on Facebook (don’t judge me) and am fascinated by what interests them. Stuff that would appall any literature fan seems to go to the top of their list. They like stuff that seems like it was written by their illiterate neighbor. Almost as if it makes it seem real somehow. Like Madge, after 30 years of a boring marriage, finally got to nail that pool boy. Not my thing but, hey, it floats a boat I hope never to sail in.

      Liked by 2 people

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