Basic Publishing And Marketing…

In Digital Book World today was an article by a writer by the name of Laurie Starkey. Now I do not know this Laurie Starkey that I remember, which means nothing considering my old brain.

And Ms. Starkey was simply (very simply) pointing out to clearly flat beginning writers (her article was that basic) that a good way to get started was join together to do anthologies of novels.

Yup, fine with that. I do that all the time. I started that way by selling to magazines.

And she said that the main reason to do it is to get the power of authors together to market and get fans one might not have from other authors. Sounds solid. I do that all the time as well. No issue so far.

What caught my attention is the clear lack of not pointing out the clear history of what she was talking about. She made it sound like these “anthologies” were a brand new thing for marketing writers. And a cheap way.

Now I understand, she was writing to dead beginners. Got that. And more than likely her space was limited. And at the base, the advice was fine.

Except for the free part.

She just told a mass of beginning writers to spend their own money and then give their work away to help in their marketing. (Not sure what they are marketing for if they give their work away, but that’s another topic.)

The free part sent shudders through me.

First off, which I am sure she knew and just didn’t include, anthologies are things that have been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. Authors have been banding together to help promote their stories for hundreds of years and guess what, they got paid for it.

They didn’t pay for it, they got paid.

Pick up a copy of say Asimov’s SF Magazine. What is it? Oh, yeah, a group of authors all in the same pages, all helping each other find new readers. Oh, and getting paid to have their stories in there.

We do a bi-monthly anthology series called Fiction River and we pay the authors to be in each volume.

Today a major bundle of novels (anthology by this Laurie Starkey definition) just finished. I had put it together (called curating) and guess what, we sold lots of bundles, helped a great charity, helped each other promote, and made money.

That’s right, it wasn’t free and all the authors made money. Sorry Ms. Starkey. exists for any writer to go there, put up their stories, curate bundles, and launch them AND GET PAID for the work.

The big bundle that just finished from cost none of us authors to be in it. And our books were still for sale at full price in all the bookstores around the world.

And as a point of interest, the novel I had in that bundle also sold more copies outside the bundle than it normally would over the last three weeks.

But Dean?…

Now I do understand that free has its place in sales. Never on shelves and never for very long, but when used correctly, it can be a valuable tool. I say that all the time.

For example: Kris gives a short story away on her blog every week for free. One week and the story is still for sale in normal channels at normal prices.

Often writers will have a story for sale in normal channels and give it away to their newsletter subscribers. Another good way.

Free can be great sales tool when used correctly.

This article in DBW was well-intended, clearly, and would have been correct if the author just hadn’t said to give the anthologies away. Or if the author would have just made a nod to the publishing and real anthologies and real magazines and bundles as paths for writers to get together, and then presented her argument and reasons for free from a marketing standpoint.

She did none of that.

She said it was good marketing to give these away without reason. And left that idea with a bunch of beginning writers who might actually believe her. Yikes.

So since I am in another great bundle (she called it an anthology) right now with one of my novels, I couldn’t let this stand without at least a warning about the free part. Her suggestion is a horrid use of free.

Just horrid and bad marketing.

While the idea of writers grouping together to help each other in marketing is a fantastic method that has been around for centuries. And is still going strong in this new indie world.

So if you get a chance, do band with other authors to promote one group product that will help each of your books or stories. But for heaven’s sake, grow some belief in your own work and get paid for it.