Let’s say you’re a writer who has written a few things that you’ve tried to get published. Let’s say you’ve even had some success. You’ve submitted your novels, short story and poem collections, or magazine articles to New York publishers.
After receiving enough reject slips to cover the walls of your two bedroom condominium you finally managed to place something in an obscure publication located 500 miles away from New York.
Don’t break out the champagne yet. It may or may not be a start. It all depends on:
o how well it sells
o what your next “masterpiece” may be
o how well the editor thinks that it will sell.
You may soon discover that your first piece didn’t sell well and the editor spent so much money on it she’s not interested in buying another one from you.
And you still haven’t “cracked” New York.
Your initial elation at having “finally published” drops rapidly into the psychological gutter, and you find that you really haven’t “left the gate” at all. You’re almost worse off now than if you had never published in the first place. Other editors may shy away from you because you are not writing “salable” material.
Before you raise a disdainful eyebrow at this scenario, let me assure you. This has indeed happened to more than one writer.
If only I had one
“Hah!” you say. Or maybe it is “Ah hah!” That’s the reaction of discovery. For scientists it’s the word “Eureka!”
You elicited this reaction when you discover that real, published authors all have literary agents, and that nobody in New York seriously considers a book that is not presented by one.
You have also made the depressing discovery that the creations you sent to publishers like Harper and Row weren’t rejected by the top editors of Harper and Row, but by an 18 year old high school graduate sitting in a small cubicle. Her desk is surrounded by stacks of manuscripts mailed to her by hopeful writers. The stacks nearly reach the ceiling.
After finishing reading your manuscript, putting a canned reject note in the SASE you provided, and tossing it on top of the other stamped manila envelopes overflowing an outgoing bin, she climbs up on a stool to reach the next manuscript, located on top of the nearest stack. Three months ago, yours was at the bottom of that stack.
That’s why it took so long to get your reject slip.
To get your manuscript past this girl and to one of the top editors, you realize you need a literary agent. So, after submitting your manuscript to several prominent New York agents you discover -
They only take already published, famous authors. Ever read the novel Catch-22?
Guess what? I’ve got bad news, which for you, probably isn’t news at all…
The Self Publishing Non-Solution
Maybe, just maybe, you can self publish. There are all kinds of “Vanity Publishers” out there, and some do it on a “print on demand” basis, receiving their orders over the web. Maybe you are foolish enough to have gone this route, in which case you now have:
1. A garage full of unsold books you must distribute yourself.
2. A “published” book just waiting to be printed as soon as somebody requests it.
3. Reviewers who won’t take you seriously.
While option #2 is more desirable than option #1 (since you didn’t have to spend $10,000 for the first run of 2000 copies) waiting for somebody to discover your book so they will request a printed copy isn’t exactly your idea of “writing fulfillment”.
And, with option #3, there “ain’t no hope” of getting your book recognized by magazine reviewers and getting publicity that way.
Sadly, nobody takes a self-published author seriously.
The By-passable Middle Man
Another “Ah hah” (or is it “Eureka”?)
You spend a few weeks in frustration, with or without “writer’s block”, as you contemplate the madness and unfairness of the publishing world, hereafter referred to as the “information marketing world”.
We just renamed it … because the “AH HAH” reaction came when -
You discovered you could publish on the Internet!
Dancing around your computer with joy, you realize that the Internet allows you to dump all New York editors and agents. They no longer control your destiny. Whether or not your book sells and is read is now ENTIRELY UP TO YOU.
You can go directly to the public.
For copywriters … people who write advertising copy … it means you can “write copy without a client”. You don’t have to “cold call” 300 direct marketing advertising companies in the hope of finding somebody who will let you write your copy “on speculation”.
This term means to write it, send it to them, and hope they like it well enough to buy it. And sometimes it results in the discovery that not only did they reject it … they stole it.
You can write salable copy and put it directly in front of the public, who will then buy what you have to sell.
Or can you?
Still Stumbling Through the Info Marketing Swamp
Still high on elated euphoria, you try to learn as much as you can about putting up a website, only to find that the web is a daunting, confusing place full of unexplained and esoteric terminology.
You soon discover that as well as being a writer, you may have to become a programmer … you are going to have to learn something about the mysteries of “domains”, “hosting”, and “search engine optimization”… along with an alphabet soup of technologies: cgi, php, html, asp, etc. and etc.
After managing to find your way through some of this, you are elated to be able to set up a web site to display your book, which you transferred from your attic trunk to the web.
It’s now in front of the public, just like you’d hoped. You congratulate yourself that you have succeeded in getting past:
o New York Editors.
o New York Agents.
o The US Postal Service (since you didn’t have to mail your manuscript out 500 times).
o Your attic trunk (where you’ve been depositing your unsold manuscripts).
o Your garage, which is not filled with 5000 unsold copies of your book.
And your manuscript is now “in front of the public” who are eager to pay for it, download it and read it. Or is it?
Oops…we forgot a few things.
o How are they going to find it?
o How are they going to pay for it?
o How can they get it into their hands to be able to read it?
Once again, not to belabor the point, but we writers want to be read. Not being read is like having …uh… without …uh…
Ok, forget that analogy.
To be read, will you give them what they want?
But there’s one other thing I forgot to mention. Does the public want to read what you want to write about? If they don’t, then you are back to you where you were with the New York editors…trying to sell somebody something they don’t want to read or aren’t interested in.
This is the hardest thing we writers have to get through our heads. Just because the Muse strikes, she doesn’t always strike with something somebody else wants to read. Somehow, we have to “find the secret” of doing both: writing what we want to write about, and slanting it in a way that will appeal to the public.
We have to give them what they want to read, or we won’t be read. It’s that simple.
Somewhere in the Swamp, the Revelation Strikes (Good Thing It Wasn’t a Hungry Crocodile)
By now the revelation should have struck. If you are going to write, bypass the middle man, and get your cherished work to the public you are going to have to be able to do the “whole thing” — the whole shillelagh.
You are going to have to be:
o The Market Researcher. You will have to find out what the public wants to read.
o The Writer. You are already that, but you need to be a flexible writer. You are going to have to slant what you want to write so they will want to read it.
o The Editor. You’re going to have to ruthlessly edit your own stuff to make it as clear and easy to read as possible with no typos and misspellings.
o Design and Layout. You are going to design your book to make it as attractive as possible.
o The Publisher. You will price the book and put it in a format that can be downloaded and read on people’s computers.
o The Distributor. You will have to set up your site so that your customers can pay for it and download it.
o The Copywriter. You will have to write advertising copy that will sell your book.
o Store owner. You have to set up your own bookstore where your readership will come to buy it. You have to sell it to them and collect their money.
o Promotion. You will have to promote your book so that people will want to find your store and buy it.
o Customer Service. You will have to handle returns and customer complaints.
o The CEO and CFO of your own business. You will have to take care of finances, taxes, and the law.
That’s not too hard, is it?
Deeper Into the Swamp
By now the will-o’-the-wisp has appeared. That’s the apparition of big time profits resulting from big time sales (the legendary 6 Figure Income).
To follow the wisp, if we want to write and market our own books, we are going to have to carefully place our feet on each of the stones that lead to the goal. No missteps and no skipping.
The ghost precedes us, keeping just out of reach, leading us deeper and deeper into the swamp, and we soon realize the task is a lot bigger than we thought it was.
And we also see that we need a guide — somebody to show how to build an entire business that will be a one person show.
The Teachers and the Products
There are teachers out there who have products designed to help you understand and accomplish each goal, but none of them put it all together. You might say, there’s a specialist at each stage, but none of them seem to be a guide that will take you from start to finish.