This week I've read quite a few surveys about author earnings and what makes an author, especially an indie author, successful.
I find these articles really interesting for a variety of reasons which I list in no particular order:
1. I'm a bit of an information whore...I love it, I gather it, I covet it.
2. I have a PR and Marketing background so they how and why and the why not of book sales is interesting to me.
3. I look at my writing career (when I'm not suffering from writer's block, deep frustration or the inevitable self-loathing that is part and parcel of writing) as a bit of a puzzle. I like finding the pieces and putting them together...although I think writing's probably more like a rubix cube...in that there is more than one way to finish it off...(That's good and bad for me because while I'm not bad at puzzles I'm absolutely rubbish at that multi-coloured cube.)
4. They're often written from a very specific point of view - and especially the interpretation of the studies and the comments which I find fascinating. I find most writers to be a lovely accepting bunch, but there are always a few judgemental types out there. Fascinating!
Anyway, I digress...one of the articles read broke down what these studies said one should do to succeed as an indie.
These things included:
- write a series
- get professional cover design
- get professional editing
- release a certain number of books per year and over more than one year
Finally - and this is where the branding comes in I suppose. The survey showed you which genre's to write in if you wanted to succeed ie how to brand yourself for success like those very successful authors.
Chicklit, is what I write and naturally it wasn't one of those areas recommended for success - of course if I write a chicklit series I would increase my odds (see above) but unless I added some other elements then that still probably isn't enough. (I do write in other genres and I have been published in them but I do that under a different name.)
This is where branding comes in. As you can see by my banner, my covers and my collateral I'm very much branded as a chicklit author. I've done that on purpose because I don't want to mislead my readers.
This is where it gets interesting I suppose because everyone who knows anything about writing will tell you that you must write the story in your heart, you must write the story the characters tell you and you must be true to yourself and your story.
So how do you match those things up? Writing what you want to write and writing what sells best. (By the way I think people read chicklit and I know plenty of people who sell it - it just doesn't sell "best".)
So what does an author do?
I think you just continue to be yourself. I mean, maybe you don't have the blinding success of someone who loves to write erotica but then again maybe the wheel will turn and next year the surveys will tell people to start writing chicklit. Either way I don't think you succeed when you're disingenuous and certainly not in creative pursuits.