Networked Economy

The problem for most indies – particularly new ones – isn't producing a book. Once you've gotten a full draft written, the rest is mechanics. Cover art is cheap. Editing is relatively cheap. Conversion from wordprocessor to ebook and even paper is cheap.

Everything is cheap mechanics except for one aspect. 

Sales and Promotion. What the kids are calling “marketing” today.

It's the one thing every indie needs to tribe up to handle because yelling in the woods alone is – well – lonely. It's also counter productive. It scares away readers, attracts predators, and exhausts the author. 

It doesn't have to be like that. 

We've known the market is a conversation since the ClueTrain[1] left the station in 1999. We've known about the importance of being remarkable since the Purple Cow[2] mooed in 2003.

But too many authors still operate as if ad buys and exposure gets sales. As if a 5-star Amazon review opens the flood gates to wonga while a 1-star one kills your career. As if there are only so many readers in the world and they're all taken.

You don't need a co-op to produce a book and you don't need a company to network. People have been networking since the tribal days and it's only gotten easier now that we don't need drummers to bash out our messages on the jungle drums. 

I've said it before and I'll probably have to say it again:

Face to the audience. Peers at your back.

“I don't have any audience.” – everybody starts at zero. 

“I don't have a network.” – build one.

“I don't have time to build a network.” – you're reading this post aren't you?

You've already had more than enough time to work on a network. It takes a few minutes a week to lay the groundwork. You can spend more, if you're having fun.  If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong. 

“But don't I need friends and views and likes and followers?” – Not really.

A few connections to start is usually enough. You don't need to be everywhere and probably shouldn't be. 

What you need is some work that people can buy – or at least get for free. You can't promote the book you're going to write. More is better. A blog where you publish your short stories is fine, but that's not where the juice is. Newsletter “reader magnets” only work for readers who already know you. Get your work listed in a marketplace. Even Wattpad, if you must, but there are better alternatives. Give people a reason to look at you before you stand up and start yelling “Hey! Look at me!”

What you need is to stop thinking like you're on Madmen and start thinking like the artist you are. One with a global marketplace and a global reach. One where the distribution channels funnel you directly to eager customers in their pajamas around the world with just a few key clicks. 

What you need are a few people who are in the trenches with you. If you're reading this, you're already part of a network. Mastodon has a great community of supportive writers – along with a few people who didn't get the memo about trying to sell pork chops to a butcher.

If you want to be part of the community of letters, stand up and claim your node.

See also: – Face To Your AudienceWhat Is Marketing?

Up Next: Publishing: A Glossary ...

1. ClueTrain Manifesto:

2. Purple Cow by Seth Godin