Thursday, April 10, 2014

Think strategically

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On Saturday, April 12, I’ll be showing my paperback books at the Canadian Author Association’s first-ever Book Fest.

If things go right, I may even do some live blogging from there. And if you come, we may even have a chance to meet face-to-face! I know I’m excited about it.

I look at events like this more as chances to network with other writers, readers and book enthusiasts, rather than as a place to sell product. But let’s face it, authors are all trying to sell their work. As my Internet friend and fellow author Russell Blake likes to point out, writing books may be art, but selling them is business. And in that frame of mind, I am re-presenting a blog post that I originally wrote for the Guild of Dreams blog.

Thinking of authors as business people

The book field is an extremely competitive, fast-moving market. If any of us hope to carve out the slightest sliver of presence in it, we’re going to have to recognize it as a marketplace and ourselves as sellers of products. Marketers. Business people.

The authors who sell the most books treat their activity as a business.

I have to admit I’m not the greatest business type person in the world. But over the past couple of decades that I’ve been selling my words, I have learned that you’re a lot more likely to succeed at something if you have a detailed strategy to achieve it.

If you’re a writer (or anything else, for that matter), think strategically about your career. Set some realistic, if ambitious, and measurable goals. (Check out George Doran’s SMART project management approach.)

These should not be just a number of book sales. Your strategy has to list a lot of specific steps that will help you achieve your goal. What will you do to increase sales? When will you write your next book, who will review it, edit it, design the cover, take care of the production of an e-book or a paperback?

What is your promotion plan? How will you contact book reviewers? What is your social media plan? What will you do on Facebook, how frequently will you tweet, what will you do to increase your number of followers on Goodreads?

A collaboration challenge

As individuals, we don’t have the ability to make much noise. But if we work together, strategically, we can have a lot more impact with a lot less effort.

Regular readers know that I am a big believer in authors (and other artists) working together, sharing skills and leveraging collective efforts. I participate in group sales and in professional organizations like Independent Authors International and Bestselling Reads.

Credit: Anthea Sieveking/ Wellcome Images
My challenge to all my readers who are also writers or other artists is to come together, not just in a mutual support and admiration group, but in a strategic one. Contribute your particular skills and take the advice of others who know about their specialties.

Collectively, we can devise an effective strategy to raise our profiles, improve the quality of our work and sell more books.

Want to get involved? Tell me about it or offer your time, expertise and effort in the comments, or send me an email (you can find it here if you look).

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