Products of Writing

With digital publishing many indie authors are now attempting the authorpreneurship path. That is, rather than just writing for the fun of it, some of us write to sell.

Some of us want the products we produce to reach a wider audience and to continue to do what we love doing. In order to do that full-time, at some point, we need to earn a living from it.

Ergo, the business of writing. As sterile as the term ‘product’ sounds, a creative work does tend to be a product of the author’s imagination and craft. Unfortunately, most of us creative types over the years have been told we’re not creating to sell; we’re “expressing” ourselves, or worse, we’re creating for the sake of creating.

I’ve never heard a teacher told they are teaching, just for the simple pleasure of teaching. Nor that they shouldn’t worry about getting paid for it. That goes for any profession–except of course–the arts.

If you are in a creative profession, for some reason, there is a certain measure of audience and perusers who believe you should work for free. And they want you to believe it too.

Personally, I like the idea I can offer my work at no cost on occasion. It’s not just a way to thank readers, but it’s also a testing ground for some of my literary experiments. If I’ve never written in a particular style before, or if I just want feedback, this is helpful to me, and I hope, entertaining to others.

But as a professional writer and indie author I also expect to produce work that sells. If I did not attempt (at some point) to sell my work, I would not be a professional writer for long.

The business of writing, like any other business, is about selling. Authors have to learn to expose their work to a larger audience, then convince that audience to purchase the work.

This is no easy task. Over the past year, I have learned a little about marketing, but still, despite the innumerable articles I’ve read, the social networking I’ve tried, my work is not selling as I had hoped.

But I’ve also noticed most authors who are “making it” are not selling on Smashwords. Nor are they selling on Feedbooks. They are selling on Amazon. More specifically, through the Kindle Select program.

I don’t like the exclusivity of the Select program, because it limits what audience authors can expose their work to. But I also know many writers are going that route because the other platforms don’t offer the exposure Amazon does.

So, as an experiment, just to see if my sales numbers change, I’ve removed two of my works from Smashwords, added two (previously unpublished) to the Kindle Select program, for a total of four.

I’ll report the sales figures at the end of the three month enrollment period.

We’ll see if platform makes a difference.

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2 thoughts on “Products of Writing

  1. I like to compare writers with guitar players. There are something like 30 million guitar players in the US alone, and a lot of them practice a great deal and play out a lot, recording sometimes and putting their music up on sites like youtube or soundcloud or myspace, and it’s okay for a guitar player to be an amateur. Many of them probably dream of becoming Stevie Ray Vaughan but most don’t really go for it. It’s commonly understood that this is much more likely to be a daydream than a reality. But there seems to be no such acceptable distinction between amateurs and professionals in writing. Everyone is assumed to be a pro or an aspiring pro. Whether it’s in workshops or forums or classrooms or any of those proliferating websites like scribd and wattpad and readwrite, everyone is assumed to be on the same path to pro-dom. I think this is one thing that’s making it difficult for writers who are more serious about trying to make a living at it. If only there were some sort of clear markers! Or, if only more writers had the perspective of the amateur guitar player. (Spoken, er, written as a genuine amateur who likes it like that). Best of luck with KDP!

  2. Thank you Tom. It would be nice if there was a distinction. I’ve been writing for a very long time, a bit more professionally in the past ten years, but not full-time until this past year. Recently I’ve been thinking about a movie I saw several years ago. It’s titled Gattaca. I think Jude Law acts in it. Anyway, there’s this one scene in which the main character tells his brother (who is genetically enhanced) how he beat him in an ocean swim. He said something like, (I’m paraphrasing) when they raced before, he always left something for the swim back. That last race, he didn’t leave anything. He just wanted to win and damn the consequences. He won and he got back to shore.

    I think the same can be said for many professional artists of all kinds. Damn the consequences of our decisions to create. We’ll give it our best and if that isn’t good enough… well, then it’s not. Some of us don’t feel alive doing anything else. There is no option but to make a profession of it, because it’s part of who we are.

    The amateur or hobbyist can be perfectly happy doing whatever is they do in their daily life. Their art does not haunt them.

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