Writing is, by its very nature, an odd profession. After all, if you strip it back to basics it involves spending most of your time on your own making up stories.
That said, it’s also a pretty cool way of earning a living not least because I get to spend most of my time on my own making up stories.
Now obviously I’m not the only person to see this as a positive attraction because there are seemingly many people out there who wish to follow in my footsteps and fair play to them I say. Indeed, thanks to the growth of self-publishing it’s never been easier to make your work available to a hopefully eager public.
The problem of course, is that writing a book (or film for that matter) is only half the story, some would have you believe it’s barely a fifth. Because once you’ve finished the actual writing process and everything that goes along with that, you have to sell it. Yes, that’s right, as a self-published author, everything falls on your shoulders and that includes the role of salesperson.
Personally, I enjoy this side of the job because it provides me with the perfect excuse to piss about on the internet and whatever I am doing seems to work because I am, apparently, doing OK. I could possibly be doing better but I have no way of knowing that for sure because I’d much rather be writing, sitting in coffee shops or going on holiday than writing ‘guest blogs’ or taking part in blog tours. These apparently being obligatory for authors who want to sell their self-published works. At least it is according to the so-called experts.
This leads me nicely onto the point of this blog because yesterday I read an article about writers marketing their work which left me not far short of incensed. It wasn’t simply the subject matter which was actually about screenwriters putting their screenplays for sale on Amazon (although if you need me to tell you why that’s a bad idea you deserve everything that could possibly befall you) it was the bit at the end about the author of said article. This bit in fact: (I have deleted her name because I refuse to give her any publicity)
XXXXXX XXXXXX is an author and screenwriter. She is the author of “Publish Your Screenplay on Kindle.” She plans to publish several of her screenplays on Kindle before year’s end.
So, she’s written a book and an article telling us to do something which she hasn’t actually done herself… yet. Do you really need me to tell you what I think of that?
The sad thing is that there are thousands of people like this who are making money off the back of the writing community by selling experience that they do not actually have and indeed, there are plenty of so-called ‘professional authors’ who actually derive most of their income from talking about the subject of being a ‘professional author’ as opposed to earning money from actually selling books. Or to put it another way, frauds.
This is especially true of the subject of self-publishing because take it from someone who actually knows, the truth is that whilst the web is awash with articles telling you how to do it, there is actually no magic formula. More often than not, what decides if a book is going to sell or not is good old fashioned luck.
Yes, of course there are things you can do to help get the stars if not aligned, at least visible and these range from exploiting social networking sites to writing blogs but the bottom line is that for a self-published book by a relatively unknown author to be a success it generally comes down to the same old thing; right book, right time, right reader.
And that my friend is the secret. You can have it for free.
Dougie Brimson is an author and screenwriter. Thirteen of his fifteen books are available in electronic format including The Crew (which was the most downloaded football title of 2012 and has held the #1 slot on its Amazon and iTunes chart for almost 18 straight months) and his latest comedy, Wings of a Sparrow.
His screen writing credits include the multi-award winning feature Green Street and the forthcoming adaptation of his own novel, Top Dog.