Entering my third year as an indie, it is my responsibility to impart sage wisdom to the world. (Don’t blink, or you might miss it.) See the series introduction post for more on my saga. But for now, lesson #8 for 2012:
Plan on having no success until one year after the release of your third novel.
As always it is critical to know thyself. If you are more of an entrepreneur than a writer, you may be able to shake your money maker and find commercial success with one or two novels. I’ve seen a few people do it.
On the other hand, if you are like me (an incompetent boob living in a fantasy bubble high off his own fart gas) it will take you even longer. (I’m not even going to go into doomsday scenarios due to the Department of Justice decision in regards to agency.)
If you are primarily a writer focus first on creating more and better content.
But, you will have to make up for marketing and sales deficiencies via adjustments to your writing.
I understand that as an artist it can be difficult to tap into the hive mind (or even admit you need to). But whether we like it or not, reality dictates things like making money within a capitalist market. It might be a skewed detestable sort of reality… (I’m not saying we have to permanently relocate there, just camp out for a few weeks at a time) but it is reality after all.
Within that reality the potential to market your product will depend on the ability of consumers to relate to your product. This doesn’t mean you have to write romance, smut, mysteries or thrillers to make a living (although this would be the easiest path), but you will have to figure out how to relate your creative content in a way hungry consumers can identify.
“You’ve never read anything like this before!” just doesn’t work. People want to read what they’ve read before. Sorry.
Now that you’ve gotten yourself a large glass of wine or poured yourself a Harvey Wallbanger, let’s focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
It is possible to wrap something new and unique in familiar trappings, thus scratching the reader’s itch for the known while also thrilling them with something new. It has taken me some time, but I’ve finally found my trappings–The DMB Files.
Wrap the unique in something familiar
For two years I spent my heart and soul creating quirky, retro pulp, dieselpunk Western stories just for the sheer thrill of it. After realizing my path was commercial suicide I groped about for some means to be able to continue to write for a living.
The answer came in creating a commercial conspiracy-thriller series that will investigate the world of the stories I’ve already written (and will continue to write). What if the present day or near future of my alternate history timeline began to uncover that these pulpy novels from some obscure dime novelist (David Mark Brown) were actually based on real events since buried by a powerful secret society?
Now my “Lost DMB Files” stories become artifacts within the thriller “DMB Files” series which takes place 100 years later! Near-future conspiracy-thrillers are something readers can connect too. And the new marketing for my old stories also helps couch them in a familiar manner.
The first novel in the more commercial “DMB Files” won’t be available until November/December 2012, so it is yet to be seen whether my new tack will yield the results I need to survive. And it will most likely take a year from release to build the head of steam necessary to pop the book up the ratings anyway. But for those of you interested in keeping track, I’ll let you know how it goes.
***Standard Disclaimer: There are 3 brands of Indie:
- an artist expressing him/herself for the pure joy of it
- an artist or idealist who wishes to express an emotion or idea to the world
- an artist/entrepreneur who wishes to make a living as a writer
An indie can be one, two or all three of these. But knowing the composition is critical. I am all three of the above, but first and foremost I have to be #3, or I won’t be able to continue doing #2 and #1 full-time. Not all of the above applies to someone seeking #1 or #2. Man, this is sounding scatological, isn’t it?