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Pick Yourself

I read a post recently which really got me thinking about the viability of self-publishing, social media, networking, and so on: Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself by marketing guru Seth Godin (I read his blog every morning).

“It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you–that Prince Charming has chosen another house–then you can actually get to work.”

Very nicely put, and quite profound.

Why wait to get signed by a record company who will make most of the profit from your music? Sell your own music online.

Why try to get your first novel through the slush pile? Why not self-publish your own book, sell it through Amazon or Lulu, and market it yourself?

Why struggle to compete for jobs in a recession? Don’t wait for opportunity…make your own opportunities.

We all network and tweet and Facebook; so much of our day is spent being involved in some sort of social media (even if your job doesn’t require it). Why not put some energy into marketing yourself, and your art? Prince Charming probably isn’t going to show up at your apartment in a white limo, and the princess can not only save herself but also go out and conquer a kingdom.

That is my thought for the day…and my plan for the future.

5 thoughts on “Pick Yourself

  1. This is a lovely dream, but one that is not very practical. The people who are making big money self publishing are people who had already gained a degree of fame or a big following in traditional publishing. Yes, Stephen King can self publish an e-book and make millions. But he didn’t become Stephen King without traditional publishing. And until someone does figure out how to become famous without an enormous marketing and publishing infrastructure propping them up, this all seems like pipe dreams to me.

    I go to the cons. I see the tables filled with self published books that no one is looking at, while hopeful wannabe authors try to catch someone’s eye so they can hawk their wares. It’s not a pretty sight.

    I have a very good friend who is currently putting his own music out on the market through iTunes and other sites. He does live shows all over the country all year round. He markets in facebook and twitter and everywhere else he can think of. He even managed to get one of his songs as background music on an MTV show at one point.

    And he’d kill for a publishing deal. There is a level you just can not get to without the muscle the big boys have in your corner. No matter how much we might like to wish otherwise.

  2. That’s disappointing. Not only do I have a moral objection to the recording industry and would like to support it as little as possible, I like the idea that in the present day of social media that you can build your own success with enough work. Although (to my limited knowledge) the publishing industry isn’t as corrupt -at least you don’t see book publishers setting US national policies- it’s still a bit of a mill, isn’t it? God knows that writers like Stephen King are pretty rare…I have a feeling that the majority of authors need their day jobs. I like the idea of taking the risk for myself, and reaping the benefits.

  3. Marketing is the tough part.

    Sure, with my publishing deal, I only get 10% of the cover price in royalties. Self published e-books can get 70% That sounds great.

    But, because my publisher invested (a fair amount of) money into me, they designed and built me my website, they sent copies of the book to every book reviewer everywhere (and because they come from a legit publisher, the reviewers actually, you know, read them), they will do print ads and video marketing. All stuff that it is technically possible to do for yourself, but no one seems to have figured out how to actually do it.

    I mean, just try getting Publishers Weekly or Kirkus to read and review your self published book. And when I got a starred review from PW, my pre-orderes on Amazon shot me up 100,000 places in their top sellers list. I mean, THAT DAY it happened.

    I’ll take 10% of a shit-ton of sales over 70% of nothing.

    There is a stigma still attached (at least in publishing) to the term ‘self-published’. It (sometimes unfairly) means you weren’t good enough to get a legit publisher to buy your book. And that perception slams a lot of doors in your face. No reviews, no awards, no attention.

    And, more than anything else, first time writers need attention.

    I’m on a mailing list with a woman who is going on and on about how much money she makes self publishing her e-books, and how if she was starting over in the business now she’d have done that right from the start. But the piece she keeps forgetting is that she worked in traditional publishing for decades, building up a sizable fan following. Of course she sells a couple thousand copies of her new e-book, because she has thousands of fans from her older books.

    Would any of those people have bought her book if they’d never heard of her? Almost certainly no.

    Just prowl the forum threads on Amazon tagged ‘self published’ to get a Dantean view of the hell these poor guys are going through trying to get anyone, ANYONE to look at their book.

    Yeah, it sucks. But I’ve seen what life is like on that side, and it isn’t very pretty.

    No matter what though, when your book comes out I’ll be buying it. One guaranteed sale for you, there.

  4. All good points, and thanks. :) Disappointing, but reality so often is.

    I just watched a video of you being interviewed, by the way. Very interesting discussion.

  5. Yeah, me looking fat and comfortable. I’d like to keep the comfortable, and ditch the fat.

    Having said all of what I said, the fact is that you are pretty much the professional online marketer. If anyone can be the first one to figure it out, it’s probably you. Most first time writers don’t have your extensive skillset in that area.

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