On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Book is a Product

I read comments on Amazon about how Kindle books are too expensive. After all, there's no physical product, just an electronic file that travels through the air to reach the e-reader. As a writer I want to jump in to the conversation. Of COURSE Kindle books aren't free! The writer should receive recompense for his time and creativity. Sadly, this idea doesn't occur to many non-writers.

Resentment for paying for Kindle books reflects the contemporary attitude that information should be free. After all, one can find anything for free on the internet. It's harder to convince someone that he must actually shell out bills for the information contained in your book. This is why, when you finish your book and start attempting to find an agent or sell it yourself, you must keep the focus on the buyer, not yourself, to explain why the buyer will get a bargain by purchasing your product.

Too many times I read newbie query letters to agents in which the writer explains all about the book, but says nothing about how this book might serve to fill a need in the purchaser or what the writer will do to market said book. I always ask some questions to help focus the writer:

What books is your book similar to? And please remember that your book will NEVER be unique -- Similar books exist. Find them.

What makes your book different and better from others in the field?

Who reads these similar books? You need to identify your target audience. Who else might buy a book like yours?

What is your platform? Platform included things like live appearances and lectures, publishing articles with a byline, groups and so forth that you belong to (church, clubs, friends), and of course internet presence: Websites, Blogs, Tweets, Friends, online loops, and so forth. Your platform represents the people whom you might be able to reach to tell about your book.

THESE are the types of things an agent or editor wants to hear about before taking your book on. Give them what they want.

Too often I run into wannabe authors who think that printing the book is the end of the process. This is why they are such an easy target for subsidy printing companies (about which I am extremely negative, but that's another column). The author is tired of always being rejected and figures that he can easily circumvent the process to publish his book. Right? Actually no.

It is a straightforward process to produce a nice looking book, whether you are published traditionally, published by a subsidy company, or do it yourself. It's an almost automatic process to be listed on the online bookstores like Amazon, and even producing a Kindle or Nook version is free and straightforward. (Yet another column). THE HARD PART IS TO MAKE THE SALES!

Marketing. Underline that word with two lines because that is what makes the difference. Your book is a product. Make it as perfect as you can with the writing, and then figure out how you're going to sell it.

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