Saturday, May 17, 2014

Self Publishing: Stupidity or Strategy? SUSAN HARRIS

Plain and simple I don't like rejection. 
I have no shortage of friends, school was a breeze, husband-finding was neither long nor arduous though the three-year engagement was. Long, that is, not arduous.
I generally achieve what I aim for. My determination could be credited to training in management, or maybe the innate manager was determined to be trained. Whatever it is, I'm a business woman. And I apply business principles to my life, be it for profit or not.
My gifting comes from the Lord, and I honoured that with over 15 years fully devoted to His work. He blessed, I invested in the Kingdom, and flourished.
Many wonder why I self-published my latest book, Remarkably Ordinary. After all, I occupy a coveted spot in the ranks of the traditionally published. Would I jeopardize future contracts and my relationship with my publisher? Would traditionally published authors wrinkle their noses at me?
Unequivocally, I reply "No" to the 'jeopardizing' question, and "I don't give a penny" to the 'nose-wrinkling' one (but I'll give a shiny one to whomever purchase books).
Publishing is an occupation, and publishers are businessmen. I am an entrepreneurial female with self-published books who was able to broker deals with an entrepreneurial male.  A few years ago I successfully negotiated hoards of contracts for an employer in an area where professionals feared to tread. I was the mouthpiece, and the Holy Spirit lent me words that arrested colleagues, impressed bosses, and persuaded the parties to embrace change with their signature. The Holy Spirit is still with me and I use His partnership to represent myself.
Because rejection has not played a dominant role in my life, as I get older, I'll be danged (this was a swear word when I was growing up) if I'd throw myself in rejection's pathway. I refuse to be labelled a reject or to hunt for a decade for someone to publish my book or to accumulate cabinets of refusal letters. I can't imagine why I'd want to erode my confidence through those means.
I ask myself, "Should I place hope in a company (publisher) when I could become that company?" 

I queried a few publishers while I was writing Little Copper Pennies. If any had responded favourably at that time, I'd have gone through, but I had a plan for the manuscript the minute it was complete. (Both "Penny" books were picked up after by a traditional publisher).

I researched the publishing industry, examining it through the lens of the 70-30 principle. If I assessed a success rate of 70%, I'd go ahead. I knew enough to start - writing, pricing, communicating, promoting, marketing, accounting, budgeting, packaging, shipping. Controllable and uncontrollable barriers. Scoping. Timing. Milestones. Adding value. Removing waste. Saying no. Keeping focused. Obtaining legal advice. I learned as I went along, and I keep learning every day.
Economics underscore that if operating variable costs are covered, business is viable. I heeded both variable and fixed costs. The textbooks ask, Is marketing making what you can sell or selling what you can make? Despite finding success at both, I subscribe to the latter.
The book market is a competitive one, but more critically, it's an elastic one, i.e. highly responsive to price. 
I set my own prices in the range I'd pay for a book.  I'm an ebook gal, and my favourite digits next to 0.00 are 99 (¢), but I'll consider a dollar or two higher. Since few books are as urgent as Diet Pepsi, I can wait for a deal or a freebie. (Unlike my Kindle, my cupboard supports the Just-In-Time system, thereby rendering the demand for DP inelastic). Seriously, though, I find the ability to control price one of the most attractive aspects of self-publishing.
All my books have yielded 100% returns and more, although Remarkably Ordinary did it in days. I'll be stupid if I disregarded the most strategic business decision I've made in my writing career.
(An excerpt from "Insights into Being Successful Right Where You Are" coming later in 2014).

Susan Harris newest book Remarkably Ordinary - 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are is available at your favourite Amazon site.

Susan Harris is a former teacher in Management of Business. Her credentials include a B.Sc. in Management Studies, post-graduate diploma in Education, Diploma in Writing, Diploma in Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Certificate in Theology. She holds membership with the Canadian Council of Human Resources Association  and notable writing groups in Canada. She is the author of four books - Remarkably Ordinary, Golden Apples in Silver Settings (White Lily Press), Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids (Borealis Press). She was born on the tropical island of Trinidad but now lives on the prairies with her husband, daughter and the gregarious cats.

Find Susan at:


Glynis said...

Dear strategic, savvy young lady! Sounds to me like you have an idea and you do it. I love your strong business attitude. I wish I could have some of your lioness prowess. I am more like a fearless kitten. I'm tough until someone growls at me! I am encouraged by your words and approach. Reliance on God is something we definitely share, however! Drive on, sister! Good post, Susan.

Bobbi Junior said...

Susan, Susan, Susan. Your words and fierceness exhaust me, yet I thrill to the energy and business savvy you exude.

God has gifted you with the personality, the confidence (I love that you refuse to have that eroded), and the learning to spread your stories. There will be others who will gain confidence from your post and leap up, primed by God, book in hand, ready to accept the challenge.

Not me. LOL! (Unless, of course, the Lord calls me to this too, one day.)

Blessings, my friend, and may your energy continue to suffuse all you do. I love it!


Mary Hosmar said...

Way to go, Susan. God has gifted you in many ways. I'm still looking for someone who will do that marketing for me since that is definitely one area in which I am not gifted. I rejoice in your willingness to follow His leading.

Janet Sketchley said...

Your confidence is inspiring, Susan, and this is the perfect time for indie publishing. We need to treat it as a business, as you say, which means a quality product with professional editing, cover and layout. The thing is, once we learn how to do this and break any fear barriers, the marketing angle is pretty much the same as being traditionally published -- it's still all on the author unless we're a huge name. But with indie publishing the author has full control over when/where/how to promote and what pricing to set.

I love working with my small traditional publisher for my novel, because they are so progressive in involving me in the sales/pricing etc. I'm in the middle of an Amazon promotion right now, and all I can think of (besides "wow") is how blessed I am to have a publisher I can work with on this instead of being signed with one who would restrict my pricing flexibility for promotions.

Tracy Krauss said...

this post makes me want to hire you!!! Blessings

Susan Harris said...

Ladies, first thank you all for reading my blog today. I know how busy the writer's world is, and I'm pretty certain you could have done a number of things with you time. More so, I am touched that you took the time to reply.

Glynis, you know how much I love kittens. When you hear a growl, keep taking the high road with a purr or meow, for gentle words still turn away displeasure.

Bobbi, you are the eternal encourager and your insights into what works for you is the recipe for your success. It appears to be far different from mine right now, but if the "Lord calls" hey, we'll catch up. Bless you for cheering me on.

Mary, I hear you about marketing in that it may not be everyone's gift. With a self published in particular, the marketing onus lies on the author - I've not found a shortcut even though I keep looking for them. Have you considered a marketing plan with the publisher you worked with? Thanks for rejoicing with me.

Janet, I'm blessed that you found inspiration. It's spot on re what I endeavour in both Remarkably Ordinary and in the new one that's forthcoming of which this blog is an excerpt. Quality product and marketing are the main foci of going indie, and when you can find the flexibility with a trad publisher, I'd say that sounds like an ideal. Congratulations on your Amazon campaign.

Tracy, I'll take you on as my manager any day.

Thanks again, everyone.

Kimberley Payne said...

Inspirational words, Susan! Thanks for sharing.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Susan. This post speaks to and inspires the male of the species, too. The ladies have reflected broadly, and I heartily agree with them all. But and however and nevertheless (all three for emphasis) . . . I've a long, long way to go in the area of marketing and developing a business mindset!
Hey, but it used to be said that when copper pennies spend a lot of time with the silver ones, a little silver gets into them. And so, I hope (and should pray) that as I hang out here some of the good stuff will rub off and gets absorbed into me. :) ~~+~~

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