An Excerpt From Intent to $ell
When I started writing professionally, I envied the authors who had followed a more traditional undergraduate educational program, studying English, and then completing an MFA in creative writing.
My education had nothing to do with literature. Iíd gone the business route in hopes of earning a respectable ó- an undergraduate degree in computers and a MBA from a local university. Those degrees didnít seem to be much help when I began writing. For several years, I practiced my writing skills before I could craft a story worth reading. I despaired that Iíd wasted my college career.
Yet, when I did start publishing, I realized that Iíd obtained a very valuable education. During the course of that masters degree, Iíd done consulting work with small businesses, especially in the area of business marketing. When my first book appeared on the shelves, I realized how on my own I really was. Over 150,000 titles are published each year, and I was only one of them.
So I began using my marketing skills to promote my books. Despite my passion for the written word, I knew that publishers considered my masterpiece to be another product to be sold. Even with the sales reps and publicist, I knew that I was the best tool I possessed for selling my books. So I decided to put that tool in action.
I looked at my writing career as a small business and applied the same sorts of principles to it as I would to any of my consulting clients. First, know that youíre not likely to make any money from this commodity any time soon. Most new businesses donít generate a profit in the first four to five years of operation. In the beginning, companies need outside capitalization in order to make ends meet.
Iím not advocating that you sell your children and cash in your retirement to be an author. Never spend more than you can afford to lose. It applies to gambling and it holds for publishing as well. However, you should take a long hard look at what your salary will allow, and include marketing as a part of the family budget. There are lots of cheap and free promotions that can be done in the name of marketing. Not everything is television commercials and billboards. In fact, those are two of the least productive selling techniques to use. Weíll talk about all of those during the course of the book.
When I received the advance for my first book, I invested the money into promotions. Iíve known a myriad of authors who have spent their advances on cars, appliances, or to quit their day job. Then when they realize that book promotions require a certain amount of cash, they have to dip into their own pocketbooks. Even so, by then the window of opportunity might be closed for the book. Thatís the reality of publishing. Youíll need to promote yourself. No one is as committed or concerned about your career as you are. So youíll be your number one resource in making your book sell thousands of copies.