I think we can all agree, we live in very interesting times. The planet is just a big mess, mostly due to the Covid 19 epidemic (there, I said it, just like Voldemort and the Candy Man). But what does this mean for writers?
The world has changed, perhaps forever. For pretty-much all of 2020 the economy has been trashed and many unlucky people have either been furloughed or lost their jobs completely. Some of you may even have decided to finally “write that book you’ve always talked about” (hey, it’s cool – we all say that at first).
We all know that big companies are struggling – you only have to look what has happened to John Lewis and Pizza Express – so you can bet your bottom-dollar that the big publishing houses are too. What does this mean for an author who wants to be published? Easy. The big ones will simply circle the wagons, trim the fat and make sure that they don’t do anything risky as they go the Winchester and wait for it all to blow over (you have watched Shaun of the Dead, haven’t you?). They definitely won’t take on many new authors who have written their first novel. We know loads of Indie writers and very, VERY rarely does one get a traditional publishing contract – there was one last week who had got one for her TENTH novel.
Now please, please, please don’t let this put you off writing. There are still lots of publishing houses out there, right? Well no, actually. We expect a lot of the smaller houses will have to close their doors permanently too. Even the larger self-publishing companies will struggle as their overheads will be too big if things keep on as they are. So where does this leave you, my friend?
Well, our advice is simple;
- Keep on writing. Even if everything gets a lot worse – as it well might – then don’t let this nonsense get in the way of your dreams.
- Self-publish your first book (or first ten if you have to) as you will need to build up your social media followers and create an author brand if any serious publisher will ever offer you a contract.
- Treat this as a business and remember you are in it for the long haul. Develop a business plan and be prepared to struggle for the first few years as things take a while to take off. Definitely don’t give up after your first book just because you haven’t written a best seller.
- Remember that your craft takes time to become fully developed and honed, just as it would if you were any other artist or crafts-person.
- Do as much of self-publishing as you can, as it will keep your costs down.
- BUT remember to outsource the bits that you aren’t good at or need an independent opinion on. Everybody struggles to be critical of their own work so why should you be any different? We strongly advise you not to make your own cover (unless you have done something similar before) and an independent proofreader will also be their weight in gold.
- Set up an author website (we use WordPress because it is easy and we like it) and definitely create a social media network – we suggest Facebook and Twitter as a minimum. You will need to develop your own style – it can be whatever you like, just remember to be CONSISTENT and POST REGULARLY.
- Link with other authors and share their work and good news on your platforms. Writing doesn’t have to be the solo-adventure that people think it is. The more you network the more you will get known.
- Avoid the hard sell. We can’t emphasize this enough. If you go out there yelling “BUY MY BOOK!” every time you try to make contact with people they will avoid you like the plague. Business is about relationships after all.
- Price your books sensibly and NEVER give them away for free. The only time we would advise this is if you were using them as a prize in a competition. Otherwise you should always charge a fee for your work, or else you will look desperate. If you want to build a quality brand, then position yourself somewhere in the middle. Would you buy a new car if it only cost £1?
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. If you want, please leave a comment below.