The hardest part or being an author is being a marketer. All authors know people who have different jobs (construction, medical, whatever) and they say, I’m writing a book, or I have an idea I think would make a great book. Most of the time those books don’t get written.
So for those people, writing is the hard part. Luckily, most authors don’t have that problem. I suppose you can always hire a marketer to market your book for you, but it’s hard to get somebody to write your book for you.
The challenge is, if you know how to write, learning how to market. I met a lot of wine makers over the years, and I learned what I call the first rule of the wine maker, and that is: make what sells. You can make all the sweet dessert wines you want but if nobody buys them, you are SOL. You can make the best tasting meritage with great tannins and an amazing finish, but if nobody knows about it, you won’t be making it very long because you’ll be out of business. So the smart wine maker makes what sells, and that allows him to make what he wants as a sideline.
Heartbreaking, no? or smart business?
Now, wine making isn’t the same as writing and marketing books, but there may be some sage business advice for people who want to be in the business of selling books – because even though I write for a reason other than to sell books, I want the books to get sold.
I have told people that my Savvy Stories books were written for a small audience but she is getting bigger every day. I wrote those books about my daughter and about learning how to be a good dad. I think it would be really cool to hand my daughter a stack of books one day and say, “Here; this is all about how much fun it was hanging out with you.”
So, with those, I was making the wine I wanted to drink…
When selling books becomes my top priority, you may see me writing something other than what I’m writing now (I’ve written a sci fi thriller, a romantic comedy, cook books, children’s books, family humor and paranormal, but so far no teen vampire stuff). For now, though, I’m going to keep making the wine I like to drink, I’ll be telling the world all about it with great enthusiasm, and I hope the new stuff sells and the old stuff keeps selling, but if it doesn’t, I know I have my integrity and my pride of doing my best at writing what I loved, and not just whatever crap I thought I could sell. That doesn’t mean I won’t try something different in a few months, to get things going and spark some interest. But I have a funny feeling that when a writer stops writing about what they love and starts writing what they think will sell, they need to guess right.
I think the people who people give up on writing do so because they do it for a while, it doesn’t get to a place where they can quantify it as successful, so they get discouraged and stop. Sales of books is probably the universal bar for success; marketing is they way to hit that bar.
Guessing wrong about what to write, and failing at chasing the money/popular theme of the day/trend, would be soul-crushing to writers who write out of love for their topic, and is probably a dangerous road to follow – if it is the only path you choose.
The winemaker didn’t say to ONLY make the wine that sells, and he knows he must be a good farmer to grow good grapes, a good winemaker, AND a good marketer, to be successful. If he lacks in any of these categories, he needs to work on it or hire someone to help in the areas where he lacks. Help usually costs money. But if he can learn those skills, as he learned the skills of making wine (or marketing book) – because few are born with the knowledge – he (and we) can be successful.
Balance is required, above and beyond the writing. You need the persistence to hang in there and adapt, and the willingness to learn fully what is necessary to be successful in the craft you love – however you may define success.
This is true in any business.
REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them.
Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)
Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.