This is how quickly things change.
Life before the crash was great. People were doing well. People bought stocks with easy credit. During the 1920s there was a rapid growth in bank credit and easily acquired loans. People encouraged by the market’s stability were unafraid of debt. People were comfortable. So comfortable that they weren’t prepared when it all came crashing down. Not everyone was as affected though. The great depression didn’t affect poor people as much as those who had wealth because poor people were used to having nothing. Many of them were also already growing their own food, and already self-sufficient. They had to be innovative and entrepreneurial to survive.
Social Media has made it possible to make millions with online-only businesses. No longer do you need a college degree or fancy training to start a business online. Social media and e-courses changed that. Writers can now publish their own books without a traditional publisher. Independent Publishing has been around for a long time, but Print on Demand took it to another level. Print on Demand services are platforms where authors can upload manuscripts easily and quickly online and order print copies of their books. Platforms such as Lulu, Kindle Direct Publishing and Bookbaby are examples. Not only is it easier than ever to publish books, but it‘s easier to make millions from social media alone. Professional Instagrammer or YouTuber are legit business titles now. College kids are dropping out to become YouTube stars and Insta-celebrities. Because of advanced technology you don’t need to understand code to build a website yourself or need a fancy camera to shoot a movie anymore. With a basic understanding of video editing you can do this with your iPhone.
Life is good.
But remember how quickly things change.
Social Media is changing. People are more outspoken about privacy and data use. Facebook is being more strict about limitations so it’s difficult to do any promotion without buying ads (and although we do it anyway, we’re not supposed to use our personal pages as business pages). Algorithms don’t show everyone‘s post and Facebook is losing readers because of problems like the one I faced the other day (where I couldn’t log in). Facebook is constantly down and Google+ and Createspace have already closed down. Although Social Media looks good now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it, like the stock market, drastically changed so that users have to either pay for accounts or it unexpectedly closed down completely. Poof. Gone. Tragedies often happen suddenly.
“By the mid-1800s, most countries wanted to standardize transactions in the booming world trade market. They adopted the gold standard. It guaranteed that the government would redeem any amount of paper money for its value in gold. That meant transactions no longer had to be done with heavy gold bullion or coins. It also increased the trust needed for successful global trade. Paper currency now had guaranteed value tied to something real.” (Amadeo, K. 2018, 17 April. History of the Gold Standard.)
What does this mean / have to do with authors?
❌Using Social Media to build your business without a website
Investing in a business website is one of the most basic ways of running a successful business. Instead of just create a Facebook page or IG account, consider creating a website. It’s not expensive and can even be a one page website but it’s good to have. You can also use your blog as your website as we discussed before (because it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a full website if you have one or no books out). Using social media without a website is putting your eggs in one basket because social media is not stable. Likes does not mean sales unless you have somewhere to direct people to purchase your books. Social media is not the final destination or at least it shouldn’t be. Social media is a doorway that must lead to a place. Your website is that place.
❌Only marketing and promoting your books online
❌Only publishing books. (Neglecting other ways of making long-term sustainable income as an author)
The book is important, but it is not the only way of making money as an author. Once you’ve established yourself as an author and have started making waves with your books (please do this first), you can expand into other things such as teaching, coaching, and public speaking, as additional income sources. Only writing books is another form of putting your eggs in one basket because you’re limited to just one income stream. If you write full-time (no day job, no side hustle, e.g.) this is especially important. In striving to make a living from writing alone (once you’ve been established for awhile), it’s a good idea to expand your brand beyond just writing books.
❌Not building an email list
❌Publishing on Amazon exclusively while neglecting other retailers
I think relying too heavily on Amazon is a mistake. I think a smart person would definitely have their books on Amazon but that they will also explore other retailers. It‘s about balance. Say what you want about them but having books on Amazon is just good business sense (you have to look at it the way readers do…they will search for your book on Amazon first before anything), but that doesn’t mean we have to only have books on amazon. One of the most valuable ways to sell your books is through your own author website! The reason Amazon is winning is that mostly we are promoting it. Our books may be present on other sites but if we aren’t promoting those links alongside Amazon, we cannot expect to see sales through those channels. How many times do you promote links to your book on Kobo? Barnes and Noble? Smashwords? Your own author website? If you’re honest with yourself your answer would be like mine, very little. If something were to happen to Amazon, do you know of any alternative ways of publishing? Have you educated yourself or are you only sticking with the zon? Publishing only on Amazon is putting your eggs in one basket because if amazon suddenly crashed it will take your eggs with it.
❌Wasting time arguing about whether Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing is better.
These debates are a waste of time (this is coming from the person who doesn’t think anything is a waste of time) and forces authors into putting their eggs in one basket. Publishing Independently works for me but I won’t sit here and say that I will never traditionally publish a book if it came time for it. There’s a time and place for everything and I am at a place where Independent Publishing works well for me. I cannot say this won’t change because I cannot predict the future. There’s nothing wrong if you suddenly decided to go the traditional route or if you decided to self-publish because the value doesn’t change. You are still worthy no matter how you choose to publish. By making this out to be some type of competition we lose sight of what really matters and create self-imposed limitations. This bullet point is different from the others and may seem out of place but that’s why I must mention it. It’s a low-key way of putting your eggs in one basket. Self-Publishing is one basket and Traditional Publishing is another basket. You are not limited to just using one. It’s okay to keep your options open.
This post will be too long if we covered every single area of how we leave money on the table by putting all our eggs into one basket but here are some additional areas:
❌Not developing a business plan for your writing business / not legalizing your writing business
❌Not listing your books on Goodreads or creating an Amazon Author Central Page
❌Discounting your books / products so much that it undermines your business
Consider not relying on one way of doing things. People say that you don’t own social media but that is true for everything online. You don’t own that blog no more than you own that email list, no more than you own those social media pages.
I have to say, when Facebook tripped, as it often does, I was so happy that I at least have a website and email list to direct people to. If I had to rely on my Facebook page only, it would have caused me to panic as Facebook not working would mean losing all my contacts. Social media is an excellent tool as I can sit here and write to people all over the world from my computer. But traditional media still holds weight and that face-to-face “old stuff” still works as an option to connect you to your readers. People thought farming was old too until it was the poor black farmers whose homegrown food fed them during the depression.
In the Atlanta area? Join me for a book signing / poetry recital celebration in honor of the one-year anniversary of I am Soul! The event also features other authors as part of a Co-Advertising Campaign and takes place at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall from 2-5:00p EST on December 22nd.