Facing Down A Writer’s Dilemma

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail©2016 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

 Part of a little village...Morgidoo's Christmas Carol


'The tiny church on Blister Street'

   

A Writer's Dilemma

 

Well, how about that cool winter holiday,  people?

  It was a long, yes, but somehow, it seemed  a whole lot longer. I  have been mulling over  a writer's dilemma...which, sooner or later, like everything important,  must be faced down. Surprisingly difficult  decisions must be made in the writing life. Have you made any lately?

Publishing decisions, that is ... Simple?  No.   A writer's dilemma ,  two less-than-perfect choices, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.  Tough choices.

We have  been totally distracted here at Incoming Bytes.

Distractions put off decisions, but I tend to digress to allow time to think.  Does that happen to you?

  Even for the most savvy of writers hard decisions must eventually be made.  Get to it, a path must be chosen.   We're getting closer.

Let's procrastinate.   Coffee anyone?   See what happens?   Writing is  more than coffee, staring at that damned  cursor, having discussions with the muse,  and petting the pups. Decisions like going independent or renewing existing publishing contracts come up and must be made. To renew or not? To remain with a publisher or not?  Drop anchor, or set sail off into a stiff breeze?  There 'ya go. Decide already. Facing down a writer's dilemma... is much easier said than done.

Here's the thing;  as writers, we collectively desire success; we want  someone, anyone-- to actually buy and read our  novels, whatever we're scribbling.  Being 'out there' pretty as you please on a publisher's website  isn't enough. Reality sucks big time; in the starving writer's attic, dollars pay for bread.

We all dream that readers will  be interested enough to  bust the bank and buy  a real book, —a novel, preferably one  of our own.  Facing reality and the increasing cost of living, writers   dream not only of writing a winner, but of actually being paid, too —a lot more than the unrealistic  pittance called royalties now offered by publishers.  It's a tough game.

In theory the whole process is simple enough; write a great book,   find a great publisher, an insanely insatiable, interested community of readers, and sell, sell sell  to the right demographics, etc. etc...   The book simply has to fill a need and a niche.  It seems simple enough, but is not. 

Your book  must also fulfill  expectations.  Interpretation of your vision, book classification,  publicity, marketing, a timely launch.  All of the above. Your book must  be unique, well-written, formatted, edited, loved and mollycoddled by your publisher...and then sold all the way to the million copy best-sellers list...  Okay.  That's quite a lot to ask.

As an author,  success and financial returns are only one consideration. Future sales potential, future books,  perception of important  friendships, the supportive author community   —and so many other aspects also occur in an author/publisher business relationship. Simple enough?

What is not simple however, is how, or why, publishers make those all-important and critical production decisions made for your book.  Covers, formats,  fonts,  printing, marketing ploys,  write-ups, and ultimately promotions, discount sales, giveaways,  whatever.  Interpretations and decisions out of your control.  Everything a publisher does affects your book;  all of these 'production decisions'  are critical to success. Do some go astray?  We hope not, but, indeed, some inevitably must.

Keep in mind decisions made by  publishers are never   'wrong' from the publisher's point of view or master plan at the time... Good publishers have a vision they would like to see fulfilled— they, too, want success for their authors.  Does that success always happen? No.  Do publishers always make the correct written-in-stone decisions for every author, every book?  As the author, guess what? Only you can decide. In addition,  some decisions don't seem to work—for whatever the reason.

Let's talk about a specific book.  It is a good example.   The publishing contract  simply expired for my Christmas classic "Morgidoo's Christmas Carol, " so all stops are pulled;  it is now  top priority even though Christmas is still 10 months away.    Am I looking closely at all of the options available?  You bet. Including going Indie.

Morgidoo going Indie Well? Why not? I  published the 1st. edition back in 2011 as an eBook. MCC was subsequently picked up by Rocking Horse Publishing for the 2nd Edition (2013). 

Why change now? Two Years later...Sales have not been great.  Why?  For a much-loved Christmas classic written for all ages,  a unique story,  poor sales were certainly not expected, and realistically, the status quo is not going to cut it.    Not enough promotion? Who knows.  There can never be enough promotion for any book by author or publisher.

 

A  'Look at The Book'  View

 Let's get to it. Out in the market, the contentious square format apparently  labeled this Christmas classic  as  only a child's book —another writer's dilemma —and in fact resulted in negative feedback  to this author.

"Great cover, great story, but..." comes to mind.  Why?  Adults immediately perceive the square format to be a 'kiddie book" product. Subconsciously or not.   The surprising fact is,  adults apparently do not like  square, flimsy, skinny formats which demand table space instead of standing vertically on shelves  'like real books do'  as someone suggested, tongue in cheek.  Miffed upon hearing that possibility,  I did an unofficial experiment.

One of my favourite hobbies is observing people, so during the recent Christmas season, I  stood about and, interestingly, observed that shoppers tend to studiously ignore tables loaded with a great variety of  "square format" books.  "Those are  kid's books", some commented. "They're not real books, and are really overpriced for what you get".   "I don't buy them for my kids. "I don't bother with them." "I don't have kids."  That last comment was reasonable, but the comment  "I hate skinny, square books..." was an eye-opening response received from one shopper.  Verbatim. "...they're awkward to read, and you have to pile them up somewhere."

That said it all.  Fair enough. The square format could potentially be detrimental to the sales of books mature readers might otherwise consider.  In marketing, not a happy thought.

  I thought about that conundrum for quite a while.  Reality is an incredibly steep learning curve.  Learn by making mistakes, and don't get paid for it.

Bottom line,  I was forced to conclude:   "Politically-correct or not, publisher decision or not the square format was likely a bad choice;  perception is everything,  the book-buyer makes the ultimate decision, the customer is always right, yada-yada. Time for reality.

 

Decision Time. 

As a result, the 3rd Edition  of  Morgidoo's Christmas Carol  will  now  be re-edited, re-formatted to it's original  vertical format, and coincidentally,  will be launched under my own publishing label,  (Whitewood Forge Publishing.)  New cover, new format,  true to the original edition, even subtitled "The Bells of Blister" which was the original file subtitle. But still  new.

You got it. New. Reshaped.  More consumer-friendly.  Will these marketing choices work?  Only time will tell.

Morgidoo's Christmas Carol (The Bells of Blister) will be issued both in print and as a Kindle eBook. Be advised the 3rd. edition will look VERY, very  different.  It will look like the timeless classic it IS...suitable for readers of all ages.

Watch for it...........  Coming soon.

How about that. Another writer's dilemma faced down.

Is that Incoming I hear?

  Photo credit: © 2016 'The tiny church on Blister Street'FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About Raymond Alexander Kukkee

A published author and freelance writing professional, Raymond lives and writes in Northwestern Ontario.
This entry was posted in Books, Business, Life, Publishing, Reflections, Uncategorized, Writing Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Facing Down A Writer’s Dilemma

  1. Mandy says:

    As you know, my writing has it’s phases. I shared with you the other day that I hadn’t written in three months or so. And then come Valentine’s Day of all (LOL) and my muse is back. (Grins) How about that?

    From a serious point of view, as a writer I struggle to write for various reasons. Some like to call it the lack of muse, while others may call it ‘mood swings’ and yet others may call it writer’s block. To me they all have the same effect: the inability to write.

    Revisiting our previous works can bring to light some great details we missed out in the past, and I do believe, because of whatever the outcome of MCC, you’ve now given a whole lot of detail to the presentation and sales aspect which you otherwise didn’t feel the need to. Likewise, with my book in progress, after my Valentine Day’s surprising write, I was able to motivate myself to ‘sit down to write’. Long story short, I’ve now reworked the first chapter and have also formatted images, shout boxes, footnotes and reference texts into it. It does look like a presentable chapter for a book. 🙂 Hopefully I keep this momentum and progress through the next nine chapters that I have.

    It’s definitely a writer’s dilemma …. the challenges an author has to face, but in the end, with perseverance and a desire to succeed and be read does make a difference. You will find your desired audience for MCC, Raymond. You’re already there with the homework.

  2. Hi, Amanda ! Yes–having to re-evaluate all aspects of a project book is a good thing, even if a number of very difficult decisions must be made. There are always challenges –solve one and another begins. We must persist! ‘Perseverance and a desire to succeed’–well said.
    I’m happy to hear you’re back and writing again, Mandy, that is good news. You have overcome the inertia…I wish you the very BEST of luck with your new book! Thank you for commenting, and keep writing –you can do it! ~R

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.