What lessons have you learned?

Thank you for joining us here on Open Book Blog Hop. This week we’re talking about Lessons Learned. If you have written a novel, you have done what millions aspire to but few ever accomplish. What have you learned along the way—about writing, about publishing, about marketing—abo ]]>

Yes, learning lessons is, hopefully, a lifelong pursuit.  Learning something new everyday can be enlightening, exhilarating and helpful.  Provided the lessons weren’t learned the hard way.  Let me break this down.

What have I learned about Writing?

I can honestly say, when I started seriously writing, I had no idea there was more to it than just sitting down and putting that story running through your head on paper. That is, until I did just that.  Reading my story back to myself showed me so many issues in my story that I hadn’t thought of as a reader.  Repeated words and phrases – I had some of those nasty things over and over and over. It’s funny because when I was writing, I hadn’t noticed the repetition.  Reading it back and then, honestly, reading a story from a fellow author who had done the same thing, is what made these pop out more.  Back to editing.

 

What have I learned about Publishing?

Goodness, publishing!  The learning curve in this business is huge. First of all, to self-publish you need to understand the separate vendors: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iBooks are the big ones.  Do you upload to CreateSpace only or Ingram Sparks?  Do you upload to Draft2Digital and let them upload to other vendors?  What about the royalty splits?  Formatting????  Each vendor requires different formats for your eBooks.  iBooks requires mobi files, Barnes & Noble ePub.  Learning all of this is time consuming.  Do you put your book into KDP Select? That means your book is exclusive to Kindle for 90 days – no other vendors.  Is it worth it to you?  You have to hope Amazon will promote you because you can’t have your book on any other vendor and Amazon doesn’t pay well, so you’re hoping for volume. 

Cover design – who should design your cover? What do you want on your cover?  How will this represent your book?  What happens when you find the same picture you used for your cover on someone else’s cover?  What is a fair price for a book cover?  I’ve been fortunate to find a fabulous cover designer, Shari Ryan from MadHat Covers and Kruse Images

Editing – do I need an editor? (The answer is always yes!)  How do I find a competent editor?  How much of my story will my editor change?  How long does the editing process take? I have an editor that I love, rely on and can count on.  Mitzi Carroll.  Mitzi points out my errors, offers suggestions and she is thorough!

ISBN’s you need to purchase these if you are not only on Amazon.  Amazon will issue an ASIN for their site, but the others will not.  If you don’t purchase your own ISBN for your book and use Amazon’s, then later on want to upload to the other vendors, you will then need to purchase them.

Now you need to think about pricing.  What will you charge?  You need this information before you can click publish.

All of this needs to be thought out, worked out and planned for.  Then you have the issue of how long it will take your book to go live on these sites after upload.  

 All of the above, is what I have learned. Each decision that needs to be made requires research, time, frustration, head-scratching and angst.  What will work best? When do I self publish when do I publish with a publisher?  Will an agent help me or only cost me money?

Have you slapped your forehead yet?

What have I learned about Marketing?

First and foremost, marketing is my all-time least favorite thing to do.  It’s time consuming, it’s numbing, it’s frustrating and expensive. Ads must be placed constantly or sales stop – literally stop.  After all, Walmart didn’t open their doors and put out an ad only once that clap their hands together and then were done.  They advertise all the time.  Authors have to as well.  Now, where do you place your ads?  Where are you going to get the most bang for your buck?  How many ads do you place?  Which books should you put on sale and why?  I’m still playing with this ad business and haven’t found any one thing I think works best.

Social Media.  We don’t really sell books on social media, but you have to have a presence out there or sales all but stop.  Engage with readers (the fun part of social media), place ads, find content that you think people will enjoy.  Does it fit with your brand? What is your brand? Why is this your brand?  Do you need a logo? 

What have I learned about myself?

First and foremost I have learned that I am resilient.  I’ve had to work and rework uploading, covers, stories and marketing plans.  I’ve had to learn all of the above; sometimes by trial and error, sometimes by asking others, sometimes by reading in author groups and forums.  

I’ve also learned that I can do anything required of me. I wear many hats in the course of a day; wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, publisher, author, marketer, budgeter, research analyst, group leader, organizer, communication coordinator, shopper, designer, and the list goes on and on.  I get up early, I do to bed late. I work 12-14 hours a day and when I am not working, I am thinking about working. What have I forgotten?  What still needs to be done?  What do I have to write about this week?  Is my story compelling?  Are my characters 3D characters or one dimensional? 

It’s easier to say no.  I’ve also learned that partly because I have grown older, partly because I have learned what’s important, that I can say no to projects that don’t work for me.  I’ve been in situations where people are disrespectful – I’ll walk away.  I’ve been in situations where people are hard to work with – I’ll walk away.  I’ve worked in situations where people love creating drama – I can so walk away!  I don’t look back and I don’t regret.

This is a small business.  That’s right, writing is a small business.  As the business owner, I am responsible for everything that comes out of this business and if I am to be taken seriously, I need to work my business seriously.  I do this everyday.  It’s not easy and I’m not complaining.  I do it because over all, I love writing stories.  I love seeing my stories get better and better with each new book.  I love learning and seeing the progress that learning does for my stories and my business.

What have you learned as a publisher, writer, marketer, business person, mom, wife/husband?  Link up with us and share your story or comment below.  Then, hop on over to my fellow hoppers and see what they’ve learned.

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8 thoughts on “What lessons have you learned?”

  1. Stevie TurnerStevie Turner

    I find doing interviews is also a good thing. By doing this I was added to LitWorldInterviews and can now reach more readers.

    April 11, 2016
    • PJ FialaPJ Fiala

      Good tip on the interviews Stevie.

      April 11, 2016
  2. Lela MarkhamLela Markham

    It does definitely have a small business aspect. There’s always that part where you have to keep your eye on the bottom line or selling books becomes a hobby because you’re spending too much money. Although launching my books is always thrilling, my best days so far have been when the books have broke even on their investment (not counting my time to write them). For me, that’s when I begin to feel the book is a success.

    April 11, 2016
    • PJ FialaPJ Fiala

      You’re right Lela. Breaking even is a thrill!

      April 11, 2016
  3. Stephany TullisStephany Tullis

    Great post Patti! You cover all the key areas that as you say make writing/book publication a business and one that requires an awful lot of time and energy. Thanks for sharing.

    April 11, 2016
    • PJ FialaPJ Fiala

      You’re welcome Stephany.

      April 11, 2016
  4. P.J. MacLayneP.J. MacLayne

    I think publicity is the hardest part for many of us. Being a writer is a very introverted occupation, and publicity requires us to put ourselves in the public eye.

    April 11, 2016
    • PJ FialaPJ Fiala

      Yep. That and just when you think you have it figured out, something else comes along.

      April 11, 2016

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