Three Articles on Publishing and Money

I am nowhere near ready to even think about the publishing process for NEXT BOOK, aka A COINCIDENCE OF DOORS — I’m still hacking at my first draft and turning it into a more cohesive second draft.

However, I read three articles this week that harmonized in an interesting and/or disheartening way, so I wanted to share them with you. How do we get our books into the hands of the people who might appreciate them? Does the capitalistic model, especially when combined with the algorithmic model, “just not work”?

Reedsy: The Ultimate Guide to KDP: How to Succeed on Kindle Direct Publishing

Once you’ve got your KDP book’s product page polished for maximal conversion, it’s time to get as many eyeballs on it as possible. While there are plenty of ways to market your ebook off-platform, this section will focus on how to boost its Amazon discoverability — how to make it easy for relevant readers to find it on-site.

Remember, when it comes to books, Amazon is the world’s leading search engine and recommendation system. There are many ways to send readers to your book page. But what you really want is to reach the point where Amazon does the bulk of the marketing for you.

Seth Godin: Surrendering Curation and Promotion

Facebook, Linkedin, Google, Apple and Amazon have very little ability to promote a specific idea or creator.

That sounds crazy, but culturally and technically, it’s true.

[…]

The platforms are built on the idea that the audience plus the algorithm do all the deciding. No curation, no real promotion, simply the system, grinding away.

This inevitably leads to pandering, a race to the bottom.

Longreads: The First Book

Jennifer Matthewson: As I’m sure a lot of first-time authors will say, I expected to have more management from my publisher. It was a small publisher in D.C., but there was no marketing at all, so I had to do it all myself. I think it’s a complete shift of expectations once you realize you’re the one salesperson for your book.

[…]

[Sophia] Shalmiyev: My number one myth is that the publishing house will pay for your travel. I have maxed out all my credit cards to go do the gigs I wanted to do, and I gave up many many more because I was not encouraged in that direction. A book tour for an unknown author sells no books, not enough to justify it. Yet, sitting at home and doing nothing would have been a new low. The other myth is that you can be honest and be yourself. You cannot. You will get in trouble. I feel like I am in trouble every day I speak and have my book anywhere in proximity. I have a lot of negative feelings about the industry treating its editors and agents like rags to be used and wrung out. They are overworked and exploited, and for what? The capitalist model just doesn’t work. Plus, the schmooze is incredible. You have to like talking to strangers nonchalantly about craft and sales.

I do love talking to strangers nonchalantly about craft and sales, so I guess that’s a start. ❤️

Two Links on What to Keep and What to Let Go

Longreads: On ‘Art Heroes’ and Letting Your Idols Be Human

[Nick Cave’s] musings on grief are, as they have always been, profound. The Red Hand Files, which usually arrive early in the morning, here in Eastern Standard Time, often feel like letters about all that make being human worthwhile to me — art, love, loss, tenderness, and introspection. I read them at 5 or 6 a.m., often reveling in the gift this artist is giving us all.

Except for when he’s not.

Because there have also been times when I’ve been so disappointed with Cave and the project that I wanted to unsubscribe.

99% Invisible: Weeding Is Fundamental

For the sections [of the library] that do have to get weeded, weeding is generally a touchy subject. The reason why is probably already clear to you: people don’t like the idea of books being thrown away. We love books. And no one loves books more than librarians. It can be hard for them too. 

Weeding is normal and necessary, but the big problem was that after the earthquake, the San Francisco Public Library started getting rid of an unusual amount of books. The librarians were told to move quickly. And they didn’t use MUSTY. Or any sort of comparable system.

Two Articles on Never Being Too Old to Go After What You Want

Longreads: Is it ever too late to pursue a dream?

In September 2017, Stoddard enrolled as a freshman at Algonquin College, one of Canada’s largest public colleges. Not long after, the accounting major joined the basketball team. But Stoddard wasn’t just acting on a whim, a loosely conceived midlife crisis outfitted in size 14 Air Jordan 8s: Stoddard, who is known around campus as “Old Man Dan,” has serious hoop dreams. “You can call it lunacy,” he told me over tea with honey at Tim Hortons on campus. “I’m not saying I’ll make the NBA or go play overseas, but I want to get to a point where I can do it.”

Can a 39-year-old play college basketball? Absolutely.

LitHub: When 80 Famous Writers Published Their First (and Last) Books

In compiling these figures, I found it interesting to see how the length of a writer’s publishing career didn’t necessarily have any bearing on their current level of fame. Just look at the ten writers with the shortest number of years spent publishing: Shirley Jackson, Zora Neale Hurston, J.D. Salinger, Flannery O’Connor, Roberto Bolaño, Toni Cade Bambara, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Sylvia Plath, Nella Larsen. You wouldn’t exactly call any of these people “minor” or “forgotten.”

It doesn’t matter when you start doing THE WORK. It doesn’t even matter whether you can devote your whole life or just part of your life to THE WORK. All that matters is that you do THE WORK you want to do.

Whether it’s writing or singing or playing basketball. ❤️