Boxing and the Business Model for Self-Publishing

Olympic_BoxingWe’re all artists, tortured and emotional, bursting to express ourselves in the pages of a book. The ink flowing from our pens is only the same as the blood that runs through our veins. Could any of us ever imagine another existence? We hunch over our keyboards, dreaming, creating, escaping from this vicious world where monsters live. As long as we stay where we are, we’re safe, right?

Er… No.

We actually all live in the real world even if we like to think that we don’t. In the real world people don’t say the things which we would like them to say, the weather never matches your mood, and nasty people expect money for things like food and heating. Now, I can’t help much with those loose-lipped people in your life or the weather, but I can help a little bit with the money.

No, I’m not going to give you any.

When you decide to become a self-published author it’s important to come up with some kind of plan. Opportunity is there in this brave new world to make a living from making up stories, but you have to stick with it and trust in the model.

The Model

Apart from the exceptions, like Hugh Howey and his Wool series or EL James and her filth, you will not become an overnight success in self-publishing. So, read that line again until it soaks in. Good. Once you’ve accepted this fate you can then start to plan for the contingency.

Most authors who carve out some sort of a career from this lark have produced multiple books, and this is the secret. I’m sorry if it’s not more mystical.

The whole business model is based on the number of books you produce as an author. Here’s a load of reasons why:

  1. You’ll have more books to sell
  2. You’ll have more chances to hook a reader
  3. You’ll have more of a backlist to sell once they are hooked
  4. You’ll be perceived as a better, more established, writer
  5. You’ll become a better writer because you would’ve spent longer writing
  6. You may write a series which will lock in readers
  7. Books never disappear so you will only keep adding to your income
  8. Physical sales will strengthen when you are surrounded by your collection of books
  9. There is more of a chance to be coveted by big publishers
  10. You’ll build more of a following

The Alternative

The alternative approach is to write one book and then market the shit out of it for years. A one trick pony, beating a dead horse until eventually you give up your dreams and decide to work in a stable because of your equine experience. What’s wrong with this?

  1. What if no-one likes the book?
  2. It’ll probably be crap, most first books are.
  3. You’ll live for a few months as a writer and then years as a marketer.
  4. You’ll be bored out of your mind.
  5. Exactly why do you want to be a writer because the clues in the name… WRITE.

Trust the Process

It can be hard at the beginning to maintain the faith in what you’re trying to achieve. People will ask you how much you’ve made from your writing and it only reminds you of the pitiful return you’ve experienced. But it’s a long game and you have to remember that. Say to yourself, ‘nothing is really going to happen until I have at least three proper books out, but probably I’ll need even more than that.’

You have your whole life to reap the rewards and it’s a marathon not a sprint. Don’t get sidetracked with overly promoting one book and sacrifice the writing of the next. You must keep on keeping on. Allow yourself the time to prove it and when one takes off follow it up with another.

So, obviously, writing is like boxing. Very rarely does someone knock their opponent out with the first punch, although there are exceptions, more likely a constant battering will wear them down instead. Eventually, the boxer will catch their opponent off guard and the momentum of the fight will change. It’s at this point that the successful boxer follows it up with even more punches, quality punches, and soon finishes it off.

Until next time…

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