2016-01-24

Self-Publishing: Sharing

Reminder
I am still collecting funds to help Launch Pad. You can donate by clicking here. This workshop is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I have been supporting it since going to my first workshop in 2012. It was recently featured on IO9, and has appeared in many other magazines including Locus. Even a small donation will help.


Update
Good progress has been made on Dragonverse Origins. The word count now stands at 69,643 and the end of the first draft is in sight. The Dragonverse series is not my top seller but I do enjoy writing about dragons. As soon as the book goes to my content editor for checking, I'm going to start work on another Peacekeeper. One of the main characters in that spin-off from the Galactic Alliance series is a member of a species that looks very much like a wingless dragon. It's sort of a theme in virtually all of my books. Obsessed with dragons? You bet!

Last week, I was out of town taking a class on how to use a powerful product called Qlikview. The company I work for has had a license for quite some time but not many applications have been developed to use it. I think that's changing. One of the really cool things about the product is the ability to download it and use it's full power for free. I plan on using it to analyze my Amazon sales. Being out of town also gave me a lot of time to write which is how I managed to make such good progress on Origins.

One of the challenges of analyzing Amazon sales data is actually getting the data into a database so it can be analyzed. Amazon does supply a detailed report in the form of an Excel spreadsheet for every month of sales. But the data is not in a format that can be directly imported into a database such as Microsoft Access. I'm working on a computer program (written in VBA) that can scan the spreadsheet and load the relevant information into Microsoft Access. From there, I can load it into Qlikview and generate all sorts of interesting analysis. If anyone is interested in getting their hands on the code or the actual database when it's done, please let me know. I would be happy to share.


Sharing
I enjoy sharing my self-publishing experience with others. That's one of the reasons I started this blog. The sharing of information is the engine that has pushed our civilization forward. Last year, I was invited to speak at a future Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America meeting. My first question was what the heck does a science fiction and fantasy writer know that can help a romance writer? After a few rounds of emails, the answer was -- plenty! I presented a list of possible subjects, the list was presented to the members, and a selection was made. I will be at their next meeting on February 6th. If you click on the above link, you will see me listed on the right. I will be sharing my knowledge on self-publishing.

The first half of what I plan on talking about is not about marketing. In my opinion, marketing is too expensive for most self-published authors and the return on investment is not great enough to be considered useful. I plan on talking about how to present yourself in a professional manner. Doing so will go a long way towards helping you on the path to success.

I'm not getting paid for doing this (they are buying me lunch though) and one would think that making an hour-long trip to talk to a bunch of romance writers is not good business sense. But that would be wrong. I'm sharing what I've learned with other writers and helping them improve their final product. It's also a chance for me to meet with writers who live in another genre and perhaps learn something from them.

There was a time when the term 'self-published' was associated with trashy, poorly edited, grammatical nightmares that were dumped on Amazon by amateurs in the hope of becoming rich. That's slowly changing and I hope to be part of that change. A self-published novel should go through the same steps as a traditionally published novel. Granted, the results will not be perfect, but I've read traditionally published works with plenty of mistakes in them.

There's been some complaining floating around on some of the social media from other authors about not being paid to make an appearance. The vast majority of writers don't earn enough to make a living at writing. The rising complaints I've encountered deal mostly with being invited to a conference or a convention and then being asked to pay your own way, buy a conference ticket, and pay for the hotel. In my mind, this is a valid complaint. If you're a writer and you were planning on attending the conference anyway, then I wouldn't complain. If you were not, I would refuse unless you received compensation for your appearance. That's good business practice.

On the other hand, I've read some statements from authors who believe their local library should pay for them to appear. If the library is local, you should be supporting it, not asking them to pay you to walk in their doors. Even if you've made it to the big time and you make enough to quit your day job, you should be willing to support your local library by accepting an invitation to talk to the patrons without asking for money. Doing so indicates you've fallen victim to what I think is the biggest problem in this country -- Greed.

Yes, a writer should be paid for their work. Yes, a writer should be compensated if they are asked to travel more than an hour or two from their home. But asking to be paid to speak to a classroom full of kids at the local high school, making an appearance at a library, or giving a talk at a nearby coffee shop, is being greedy and inconsiderate. I'm not a very opinionated person -- my most commonly used phrase is: "I don't care". But, when it comes to dealing with greed, you will find I am VERY opinionated. It's a cancer that seems to have infected most of America.

I will always accept an invitation to appear at any local establishment without asking to be compensated in any way. I like to share what I've learned over the years as a self-published author. Granted, I'm not the most successful author out there, but I've learned plenty over the years and I won't keep it to myself.

Two posts ago, I said I would begin my round of tax-tips for writers. I plan to start that next week unless another, even more important topic, surfaces.

Time to get back to writing.