Knee Jerk Reactions: A Costly Author Mistake

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  I recently found out about a young author who, after attending a conference and getting advice from ONE author there, decided to make significant changes to her book’s title and cover due to slow sales. This book had been out for less than six months and she was seriously considering doing practically a complete overhaul before the book even got its legs.

Why is this so dangerous?

On top of offering an awesome product, a large chunk of being a successful business (remember, authors, you are the CEO of your own small business) requires a strategy for bringing that product to market, a well thought out business development/sales plan, and the ability to not have knee jerk reactions when challenges occur. When a business jumps from business plan to business plan, without the new one being thoroughly thought through and vetted from every angle, it normally leads to a whole lot of wasted money and heartache. One example of jumping from one business plan to another is in the example I gave above where the new author was going to completely redo her cover and title even though her book was still relatively new to the market. In the time it takes her to reinvest in the new cover and title decisions, she could have expanded her marketing efforts and further developed her existing business plan.

How to make a critical business change decision.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I exhausted every possible opportunity to market my book? Not what I think is every possible thing, but truly, every possible outlet?  Often, authors have only done a partial job in the marketing necessary to have their books in market, but get so frustrated when sales are sluggish or non-existent that they jump into poor business decisions. Doing this leads to falling into a trap of thinking that there is a miracle cure out there somewhere and, once discovered, will flip a light switch on sales. This trap can and does frequently become cyclical.
  2. Have I thoroughly researched all costs associated with making the changes that I desire?  Often because money is tighter, the original investment amount can’t be duplicated. Therefore, skimping on the costs of making changes results in, at the very least, a cheaper-looking product. We are not just talking about only changing a book’s cover to “freshen it up”, we are talking about the total rebranding of a book.
  3. Have I talked to my mentoring network about the changes I am considering? Not just one or two authors, but several authors who I consider to be mentors?This is another reason why it is critical for all authors to have a mentoring network. Mentors can help support nervous authors and maybe make them pause and think things through before they take advice from any Tom, Dick, or Harry. Mentors can also help to brainstorm new ideas to boost visibility and sales that are being missed.

Depositphotos_50087809_m-2015   What to do instead of making a knee jerk decision.

  1. Being a writer myself, the number-one piece of advice I give is to read and research. Unless you buy books (which I recommend) this step is largely free. Subscribe to blogs. There are so many blogs out there focused on the areas of independent publishing that advice is plentiful. Ask your network who are the top blogs that they follow. I always say that education is key and educating yourself on your business is just being a good businessperson.
  2. Build a library of professional books and read them! When I purchase a professional book—whether it is on healthcare or publishing—I buy a print copy. There is a reason for this. I can mark these books up and highlight critical information in them. Business books are meant to be used. They aren’t meant to sit pretty on a bookshelf. Now, my wonderful editor pointed out to me that the same thing can be done with ereaders. If you are able to mark/note/highlight your ebook with easy access to notes…go for it. I have found that the print copies are easier for me and the print reinforces the concepts.
  3. Again, ask the people in your network what has helped them be successful. If you don’t know how to find a mentor as I talked about above, join author sites such as WanaCon’s WanaTribe to make those important business connections.
  4. Attend webinars, seminars, conventions, etc. Webinars are typically the cheapest of these options, but they still offer a wealth of information. You don’t have to attend only expensive, well-known conventions to get excellent information. Writer’s Digest, as well as numerous independent sites, offer webinars at pretty reasonable prices. Again, ask for recommendations as to what organizations have the best webinars for the money.

If after thorough consulting, contemplation, and research it makes sense to change your course, then do so, but make sure your new business plan has gone through a serious vetting process. The process of “rebranding” a book should be the exception and not the norm.  If this is required, I would recommend bringing in a professional to help develop a new business plan. Doing thorough homework and research instead of simply responding to challenges with a knee jerk reaction may s ave a lot of heartache and money in the future. What advice would you have for someone considering a major overhaul of their book’s brand?

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