The Real Reason You’re Not Marketing

The Real Reason You're Not Marketing -- Rock Your Writing

How much marketing are you doing, really?

How much “platform building“?

Being honest: probably not that much. Am I right?

If you’re published, you may only send out a newsletter just before a release date.  If you’re unpublished, you may blog and then mention it on the three social media accounts you opened… although that’s hit or miss, as well.

Of course, your argument may be: too much is pushy.  You don’t want to be sleazy.  You certainly don’t want to be one of those asshats that posts something about their book every single day in scheduled bursts.

But that’s not the real reason.

I could make all sorts of arguments why marketing isn’t sleazy. Why it’s useful, even necessary, if you’re going to make any sort of income as a novelist. That marketing is, in fact, more than simply saying “buy my book” — it’s a part of every choice you make in your writing career, and is integral in every element of your stories, whether you’re conscious of it or not.

But I’m not.

If you’re here, I’m going to assume that, at some point, you’d like to make a living with your fiction.  So you know marketing is necessary, and we can just go from there.

The real reason you’re not marketing is simple:  fear.

Like most fears, it doesn’t matter if it’s rational or irrational: it has power. Enough to stop you in your tracks, if it grows large enough.

What are you afraid of?

Well, the three main ones, in a nutshell, are:

1.  That you’ll do it wrong, leading to poor (or no) sales, a ruined brand, and your writing career ending in a big, fiery DOOM.

2. That you’ll be seen as a spammy, pushy, tone-deaf loser and the few readers you do have will leave you, taking your few measly current earnings with them… leading to your writing reputation being ruined, your career utterly failing, and DOOM.

3. That you’ll sell out, turning into a parody of your true self just to make a few bucks, leading to your friends hating you, you hating yourself, career burnout, and ultimately complete failure. And, of course, DOOM.

You may notice a pattern here.

How to address these fears.

We’re going to dip into metaphysics here for a minute.  Bear with me.

To change something — a habit, a fear, whatever — takes effort. Havi Brooks of The Fluent Self says there are five levels where change occurs.

  • Intellectual
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Energetic
  • Spiritual

I’m not going to address those last two here, because they’re tricky and not my strong suit to discuss.  But change can start and be nudged along at any level, so we’re going to address the first three.

Change on the Intellectual Level.

This is where you use logic.  When your subconscious starts to give you reasons why you’re doomed to failure if you try marketing, here are some counter-arguments you can point out:

  • If the fear is “you’re going to do it wrong”, remember that you are going to research, use resources and learn, so you’re not marketing completely blind. Beyond that, you’re going to do it wrong — everyone does, at first. It’s an iterative process.  Besides, at this level, the danger isn’t ostracism for “being pushy.”  It’s obscurity — not being recognized at all.
  • If the fear is you’ll be seen as “spammy”, marketing done properly is absolutely not pushy, relentless, or distasteful.  Think of marketing you actually appreciate getting.  Maybe there’s an author whose social media you follow because she’s entertaining, and you look forward to hearing from her.  Maybe you just get a free coffee on your birthday from Starbucks because you have a frequent buyer card.  Those are both examples of marketing, and you like them.  Ergo, there can be positive marketing… and you can do it, too.
  • If you’re afraid you’re turning yourself into a big phony with this “branding” stuff, remind your fear that the most sales you’re going to make will be a result of your authenticity.  You have something no other author can offer: your voice, your creativity.  (That’s a whole different fear — self-doubt — but you get where I’m going here.)

Change on the Physical Level.

Fear leaves clues.

When you’re afraid, how do you feel?  Do your shoulders tense?  Do you take short, shallow breaths?  Does your heart pound?  Maybe your stomach knots?  Do you have muscle aches?  Or maybe just a wave of fatigue?

Addressing physical aspects can address the psychological ones, as well.  Think of it as reverse engineering — you’re addressing symptoms as a way to work towards the underlying problem.

The first and easiest solution for this:  mindful breathing.  Yup, just regulated deep breathing will take the edge off the worst of your fear, allowing you to work on another level because you get an edge on it.

Likewise, taking a hot bath or shower (for muscle aches and tension), drinking a big glass of water or possibly mint tea (stomach issues), or getting more sleep will also give you an advantage over your fear symptoms. If you can afford it, getting a massage will help your physical, mental, and emotional states.

Change on the Emotional Level.

Again, rational or not, fear is fear.  Sometimes, the logical arguments don’t work.  Simply saying to yourself  “but I shouldn’t be afraid” is just creating more anxiety, and adding a heaping side of guilt, as well.

The key to emotional change, then, is acceptance.

Recognize exactly what you’re afraid of, and then own it.  You can do that by saying to yourself (out loud, if need be):  “I’m afraid of (whatever it is), and that’s okay.  I may not like that I’m afraid of it, but right now, that’s all right.  This is just the situation I’m in. I’m allowed to be afraid. Just because I’m afraid now doesn’t mean I will be forever.  Even though I hate feeling guilty about being stuck in this, this is where I am.”

Strangely, just acknowledging what’s going on without judgment is enough to, again, give you that edge — something to work on, a way to start climbing out of the pit of inertia and fear.

Action is the game changer.

Naomi Dunsford has this great analogy about fear. She says it’s a monster that feeds on your inaction and paralysis.  The less you do, the more it bullies you — and the more it feeds, making it grow larger, with an even bigger voice.

You don’t want to kill it, because it’s a part of you.  But you do want to shrink  it.

How?  By taking tiny actions, every day, and moving forward.  The more actions you do, the smaller the monster becomes.

Small actions beget bigger ones.  It doesn’t even matter if you have a plan to start. You’ve got a vague idea of what you should be doing.  Take one small step, and then another.  Build the fire of your momentum, one twig at a time.

Fear is the foundation of courage.

You’re always going to have fears.  That’s okay.  Courage isn’t the absence of fear.  (As they say, the absence of fear is insanity!)  

But you don’t have to let it stop you, either.  Marketing, writing — any goal you might have — will have fears attached.

Learn how to manage your fear, and you’ll find yourself marketing more effectively, and more regularly. More than that, you’ll find yourself moving closer to your dreams in all areas.  It’s a skill worth learning.

To increase your odds of marketing more effectively, you might also try my new ebook —  Painless Promotion:  Strategy.  I wrote it to help authors simplify their choices and come up with a big picture plan, instead of panicking that they’re not doing enough.

(See?  See what I did there?  Marketing. <g>)

 

How to Figure Out Your Book’s Genre

colorfiles“How do I know what genre my novel fits into?”

I see this question a lot.

It’s not that authors aren’t familiar with genres — although with the proliferation of sub-genres cropping up daily, it’s hard to keep up — but often it’s because they feel their books could fit more than one genre.  They don’t want to be pigeon-holed.  They don’t want to miss a potential audience.  At the same time, picking a genre is expected.  What to do?

First:  get familiar with what’s out there.

One of the easiest ways is to look at a bookstore, whether it’s online or bricks-and-mortar, and see how they classify fiction.  This changes a bit over time.  (Anybody else remember when they had a “Chick Lit” section at Borders?  Hell, anybody remember Borders?)

Here are some of the most common umbrella genres.

  • Action/Adventure — stories including epic journeys, lots of conflict, high stakes, some violence.
  • Erotica — stories of sexual exploration.
  • Fantasy — stories usually involving magic, other worlds, mythological/mystical figures.
  • Horror — stories that invoke fear.
  • Literary Fiction — stories with a focus on the quality of the prose over the narrative arc.
  • Mystery — stories that involve solving a crime, usually a murder. 
  • Thriller/Suspense — stories of high tension that can involve either action or mystery.
  • Romance — stories about love/intimacy.
  • Sci-fi — stories usually involving technology, aliens, science-related alternative worlds.
  • Westerns — stories taking place in America’s “Old West,” often with focus on justice. 
  • Women’s fiction — stories about women experiencing emotional growth.  Primary emotion:  hope.

There are obviously lots of sub-genres for most of these categories. Also, I’ve left out Children’s/YA/New Adult fiction, simply because you can have these same umbrella genres within those categories — it’s more about the age of the protagonists rather than the subject matter, and the targeted age of the reader.  So you can have YA paranormal romance, or Middle Grade sci-fi, or what have you.

Next, look at the “genre qualities” of your book.

Did you have a genre in mind when you wrote it?  If not, given what you’ve just learned about the genres, and what readers expect from each genre, where might it possibly fit?

Most importantly, which of the above audiences would be the most happy with what you’ve written?

Example:  Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation

It’s a book about two sisters who go to a small town to make a film.  It involves a love story. There is also a mystery.  There is also a decent amount of sex.

That said, it’s not really a mystery, despite the dead body and various machinations as the murderer is discovered. It’s not that difficult to solve, and it’s not the primary focus.  Mystery readers, who are driven to figure out “who did it?” will not be satisfied at the dilution of the mystery with elements that they’d see as secondary: the love story takes up way too much real estate.

It’s also not an erotica.  While the sex is steamy, the focus is more on falling in love and emotional intimacy than sex as a vehicle of character development: there are character development scenes with the heroine and the hero’s child, for example, or the sisters discussing their past.  For someone looking to read erotica, this would seem extraneous, and possibly slow-paced or boring.

It is definitely a love story.  The mystery elements and the sex both serve to reinforce the growth of the love between the protagonists.  So the genre that makes the most sense is romance.

Another example:  Jim Butcher’s Dresden File series.

The protagonist, Harry Dresden, is a detective, solving cases that usually involve murder on the mean streets of Chicago.  He tackles a lot of epic adventures, giving it elements of Action/Adventure.

That said, he is also a Wizard.

They are definitely mysteries, taking a page out of the classic noir novels.  It would definitely satisfy a lot of mystery readers… if they were also amenable to the magical/mystical features of Fantasy, which many might not be.  Same with the action/adventure reader set.

Fantasy readers — specifically Urban Fantasy readers — would be very satisfied by the other-worldly aspects, the world building, and the magic and mystical figures.  The action, adventure and mystery all work with the fantasy element.  Harry shoots things with fireballs and magic spells as well as shotguns.  He solves mysteries that may or may not involve fairies, necromancers, or mythological gods.  It’s immersive, with world building so thorough that you are completely drawn in.  Urban Fantasy is the best fit.

Finally:  identify why you want to know.

There’s a difference between choosing a genre for a potential agent, for example, and choosing a category for a self-publishing listing.

When you’re writing a query, you want to show the agent that you have a sense of who your target audience is and where your book would most likely sell.

You might think “but isn’t that the agent’s job?”  and indeed, said agent may have some opinions on how to better position your work.  But if you don’t have any clue, and you just dump a book in his/her lap with the expectation that they will read through it and glean the positioning, it’s a harbinger of things to come.  Tacitly saying “but that isn’t my job” when it comes to something as relatively simple as genre choice suggests that you’re really going to balk when it comes time to actually  market and promote the thing.

For an agent, choose the most likely readership. 

As I mentioned, mystery readers could enjoy Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. But they aren’t the most likely readership.  An agent will want to know what’s the most likely readership — who is the mostly likely to seek out this particular type of book, buy this type of book, and enjoy this type of book.  Not someone who stumbles across this book and decides to give it a try on a whim, enjoying it more than he expected.

For self-publishing, you’re looking for the most likely category, and the least populated fit.

When uploading a digital self-published release, you’re allowed to choose several categories/genres for your novel.  These are pretty fluid: bookstores like Amazon change their listings of sub-genres all the time, so it’s a bit of a moving target.  But what you want is to choose a broad genre that fits your right reader’s expectations, just like you’d choose for targeting an agent.  Then, you’re also going to choose a niche, preferably one that isn’t heavily populated, that also fits your novel.

If you have a mystery that involves a police detective, you could pick “Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense” as a category.  Looking it up under Kindle Books, however, you will notice that it has 107,974 results offered — that’s how many ebooks use the same category.

The odds of you getting in the top 100, where many readers look for new authors, or anywhere near a “category bestseller” that will kick on the Amazon Recommendation Engine, is pretty paltry.

Look at the sub-category “Police procedurals” and  the number of books specifically categorized as such drops to 4,844.

To really get specific, if you had a “cat sleuth”?  The number of books drops to 23.  You’d be in the top 100 by default!  (Remember, if you don’t have a cat sleuth, don’t select it just to get a better category ranking.  Getting bad reviews from dedicated niche readers who feel mislead isn’t worth the ranking boost, in my opinion.)

Remember, you can generally pick two categories.  Try to hit one broad category, and one narrow niche.

It’s more art than science.

There isn’t a hard-and-fast way to figure this out, but hopefully these tips will give you a simplified approach to looking at what emotional satisfaction your work provides for genre audiences, and how to move forward.  Don’t be afraid to take a stand — and don’t worry if you have to amend your stance later!

What do you think about the genre listings?  How would you categorize your work?

Please leave a comment — I’d love to hear what you think!

Sell books (without being an asshat.)

Sell books (without being an asshat.)I read two interesting blogs recently.  First, “Are Writers Badgering Readers?” over at Huff Post Books.  That post was a response to Book Riot’s “Readers Don’t Owe Authors Sh*t.”

The two seemed to encapsulate the writer’s dilemma.  Nobody wants to badger readers — but “if we want to sell books, what else can we do?”  Right?

Not necessarily.

Let’s talk about coffee for a minute.

Let’s say you’re at a coffee shop. You enjoy it there: you like the atmosphere, the coffee’s pleasant, the pastries are really good.  You go in to buy a cup and knock out a chapter.

But the owner clears his throat. “We’ve got a new flavor of latte coming out next week.  I need you to post about it on Facebook and Twitter, and tell all your friends.  It’s important.”

You nod absently.

“Did I mention I’m trying to put my kid through school?” he adds, holding your pastry hostage.  “And that business has been really bad?”

You squirm, look away.

“And I hear you buy Starbucks at the grocery store,” he continues.  “When independent coffee roasters are struggling?  When I sell  pounds of coffee beans right here at the counter?  Do you want to put me out of business?”

You mutter something unintelligible, get your latte and scone, and shuffle towards “your” table.  Only to have him add:  “By the way… you spend hours here, buying only one cup of coffee and a single pastry.  I lose money when you do that.  You know that, right?”

When you hastily drink your coffee, eager to get the hell out of there, you wonder if it was always this bitter…  or if it’s just you.

Meanwhile, in another part of town…

Let’s go to a different coffee shop.

The woman who owns this place has a decent number of table tops in a good location, and she’s been open for a while.

She doesn’t necessarily know your name, but she knows your drink, because you’re a regular.  In fact, you show up enough that she suggests you sign up for the frequent buyer program: just provide your email, and you get a punch card, plus a free latte after every seven.

After you sign up, she sends monthly emails announcing new coffees and tea blends (“Almond Hazelnut Toffee Mocha!”) and discounts on pastries.

When you show up to write for hours at a time, she notices.  Only instead of railing at you about it, she talks to you about what you’re working on, and even suggests you hold a writer’s group there.

Badgering, begging, and marketing.

Removing the validity of any of the guy’s statements, how likely is it that you’re going to go back to that first coffee shop?

Personally, I don’t care if it’s the smoothest coffee in the world, served in 24 carat gold cups, and Johnny frickin’ Depp is pouring. I’m not drinking there.

Guilt trips aren’t a marketing technique.  They’re emotional blackmail.  And they have no place in a business.

Marketing is more than a coupon.

Now, look at the second cafe.

That owner has enough tabletops that even if several are occupied for hours, she’ll have enough room for turnover.  She needs to sell x number of cups of coffee to make overhead… and she didn’t open a cafe until she knew she’d have enough money to get a location that would actually make that possible.

She pays attention to her customers, so she knows that you loiter for an hour or two while you’re working out scenes.  She also knows you’re good for a tall latte with a shot of espresso, and that you can be coaxed into getting a cookie if it’s raining.  She gets a healthy balance of people like you, plus stressed out executives from the office park across the street, mommies taking a breather after the Gymboree class next door, and teens too young to hit bars every evening.

She knows her business.

Further, she’s not thinking “I need to get my daughter through private school, so you’d better add a morning bun to that order, pal.”

She’s thinking of the customer.  That is, what’s important to the customer — what the customer wants and needs.

She also knows that if you only wander in to grab a (free) sample of muffin before making excuses and reading the (free) paper, you’re not a customer, you’re a distraction.

If a distraction complains about the fact that she’s “always trying to sell something”  she’s going to ignore him.  Why?  Because he’s not really “business” that she’s going to lose.

She knows that people like special deals, and they’re willing to trade access to their inbox for the occasional free vanilla latte and a price break on a cinnamon roll.  If they aren’t, they don’t need to sign up, or they’re free to unsubscribe.  But she’s betting on the fraction that are, and that bet tends to pay off.

Instead of carping about you loitering like a wannabe Hemingway, she’s looking at ways to broaden her market.  Consequently, her reward is twelve new potential regulars, on top of selling about twenty-four cups of coffee and eight pastries plus a pound of French Roast when your writer’s group meets there.

That, my friends, is marketing.

How can we apply this as writers?

Most authors put off promotion until a new release, then they get into this frenzy of activity… until the launch month has passed, at which point they can gratefully return to their writing caves until forced back to repeat the cycle with the next title.

Others are the “badgers” that the article mentioned.

They’re All! Sales! All! The! Time!!!! 

You can’t throw a dart without hitting some blurb about their books, recent reviews, or special sales.

Technically, that’s just saying “buy my book!”  and it’s only one element of a marketing strategy.

Working an actual marketing plan takes people from:

  • cold (“I don’t know who the hell you are”)
  • to warm( “okay, I know you, but I don’t know if I’ll like your work”)
  • to hot (“I will pick up your next novel and sign up for your newsletter list”)
  • to molten (“I will buy you in hardcover and name my first child after your main character”  )

That involves lead generation.  List warming.  Up-selling.   And especially writing more books.

If you’re a writer, you’re in business, right?

It might sound hard, and some of these terms might sound alien at best and skin-crawling corporate at worst.

But for the most part, they’re simple, if not easy.

The bad news is, there’s a learning curve.  The good news: if you can plot a novel, you can make a marketing plan.

And if you’ve worried about how to promote without turning into a douchebag narcissist, then trust me: this is the way to go.

Click below for related posts on promotion:

Promote Your Book:  Lessons from Cinderella

Right Reader, Revisited

The Slow Writing Movement

Promotion & Permaculture

A while ago, I mentioned in a post about target audiences and using myself and my December novel as a guinea pig.  It’s August… which in publishing terms means December is more than right around the corner, it’s breathing down my neck.  So that means promo gets in gear.

Do all the things!”

The problem I have seen with many promotional theories — even my own, back in the day — is that they assume you can’t miss anything, so you should somehow try everything.  That usually means getting on every type of social media there is (twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, Pinterest, Linked In, whatever) and then constantly streaming stuff about your book and yourself.

What’s more, there tends to be too many tactics.  You’re expected to set up a blog tour, send out review copies, write guest posts, comment on book blogs, keep up with Goodreads, work your social media, set up local signings, order and send out promo items, and maintain an author blog on your own website.

While writing.

And, presumably, maintaining the rest of your life — namely, your family, your day job, your social obligations, and your own self-care, which tends to come in last on the list.

Promotion burnout.

The main complaint I have heard from other authors:  they are overwhelmed, unsure of where to go, and exhausted from trying to do everything.

What’s more, most aren’t even sure the tactics work, and if they are working, they have no proof and no sense of connection between activities and results.  This is where the “I write the best book possible and hope for the best” tribe tends to spring from.

That said, if you haven’t been doing all the things, and you’ve got a book launch around the corner… what’s an author to do?

Slow approach to promotion.

It’s often said that the best time to “build your platform” is long before your book is published, and with a continual, steady effort.  I can agree with this, although part of it, for me, is a mind-set thing.  There’s a difference between getting in contact with your community and making genuine connections, and acting like a Mafia don, doling out favors that you fully intend on recouping later.

In a “bestseller” world, the key is traction.  You want to sell not only a lot of copies, but you want them to sell in a short time frame.  Booksellers look for traction to see if a book is worth re-ordering or pushing. From a digital standpoint, traction tends to nudge the algorithms that “suggest” books to buyers.

When it comes to print books, traction is more important because after a certain time frame, you either justify taking up space on the shelf, or you don’t.  In digital, while you may languish in obscurity, you won’t get kicked out.  There’s time to grow.

How I think this would work:

  • Lower the goal.  Set a lower sales goal… but at the same time, actually set one.  Or maybe a different metric.  Reviews.  Subscribers.  Something measurable.
  • Widen the time frame.  Most launches seem to live or die in the first four weeks.  If you don’t make it in that first month, your publisher’s on to the next (unless you’re self-published.)  Set a lower goal, with a wider time frame.
  • Tighten the focus.  Most promotion efforts and tips I’ve seen want to target the greatest number of potential readers.  I am wondering if a smaller but more focused group is a better idea.  (This is going to be the bulk of the experiment, I think.)
  • Track the results.  It’s impossible to see if your promo efforts directly result in sales unless you’re generating sales directly from your site, or something.  Which is why those other metrics, especially subscribers, might be a better way to go.  Need to noodle on this, to determine “yield.”

 

The experiment.

In my next post, I’m going to go into more detail of the actual experiment. (Plus, I’m going to talk to my science-y friends and discuss how an experiment is best set-up.  It’s been years.)  But in a nutshell, I’m going to test:

1.  Creating goals that are measurable and achievable (with time frames and everything!)

2.  Creating a strategy that takes into account how much time I can spend/want to spend, with a set of criteria that all tactics need to go up against.  Sort of a “What Would My Right Reader Do?” decision matrix thing.

3.  Creating tracking metrics and definite check-ins (which I will then report back.)

I think that it’s possible to hit a Slow Writing target, with a minimal but consistent amount of energy/time expended on a weekly basis.  In my next post, I’ll lay out the parameters of the experiment for my December novel.

And, now that I think about it… I might need to get some control subjects, to see what the difference is.  (Anybody else have an Urban Fantasy coming out in December they might want to also use as a guinea pig?)

What do you guys think?

What would you most want to test?

 

The Slow Writing Movement.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been researching promotion, trying to come up with a plan that isn’t so frenetic.  What I discovered was, rather than simply a new approach to promotion, I’ve been casting about for a sustainable method of writing.

By this, I mean writing without burning out and freaking out… and still potentially making a living.

You’d think this would be a relatively simple thing.  Apparently, it isn’t.

Nobody’s interested in making a living. They only want to make a fortune.

–  Joss Whedon

I have been burned out by reading writing blogs.  They seem to fall into two camps:  those that see writing as a business, and those that see writing as an art.

The writing-is-an-art camp.

Those that see writing as an art bemoan the state of literature.  That people only want crap.  That something like (I won’t name names — think of any runaway bestseller that people are panning the hell out of) can make the NYT list, but any writer with “real talent” is forced to make less than $50 a year indie-publishing his or her own book.

They usually talk about how they don’t care if they make any money or if anyone reads their books — they’re in it because they can’t help themselves, that their writing is purely about self-expression and writing the best book possible.  They see branding as a plague and writing as, essentially, a hobby.

Some may never complete a novel.

The writing-is-a-business camp.

There’s a spectrum here.

You have the aggressive self-promoting indie, for example, who is working on increasing his productivity, branding his work, posting on LinkedIn about his latest tweet about Pinterest pins.

Then you’ve got the anti-indie, who sees self-publishing as the lazy man’s way out, a fool’s gold rush for amateurs who can’t hack it.  This group might suggest that true writers know the industry, pay their dues, and realize that if you want to play with the big boys (and make the bestseller lists), you’ve got to think like the big boys.  Or, namely, the Big Six.

Here’s a new one.  Writing-as-farming.

Wait.  Writing as… farming?

If you think about it, there are a lot of parallels.  We’re producing something for others to, essentially, consume.  But we’re not constructing  a building or mass producing cars.  A lot of factors can influence the novel — and we’re never quite sure what the seed is going to ultimately yield.

You could just garden for yourself, sure.  No harm in that.  In fact, there’s a lot of pleasure in that, and you could putter around and try different things every season and if all you wind up with is weeds, well, shit happens.  Better luck next year.

You could try to start a commercial farm.  You could pick a really popular “crop” and plant a boatload, hope that you get a good harvest.  If corn suddenly becomes unpopular, you could tear up the soil and start over with beans.  It would mean a metric ton of work, and a good deal of risk, and you’d need to go for marketability and speed and transport — hardiness over flavor, in some cases.  You’d need a larger market to make the whole thing profitable.  It would be anything but a hobby.

The Artisanal Farmer.

Or you could grow stuff that you like, that you know other people want… because, well, you hang out with a lot of those other people, and they’ve said, “you know, I really wish someone would grow a really tasty heirloom tomato around here.”  And you’d think:  well, I frickin’ love heirloom tomatoes.  And I’ve got a good sized plot of land.  And you know these guys are willing to pay more for good, local, tasty tomatoes.

You might not make a living off it for several years.  But you’d have a bunch of really fun tomato aficionados to hang out with, and hey, yummy tomatoes.  That doesn’t suck.

As word of your tomatoes grows, you find that you’re onto something. You’re growing maybe some other stuff, too… corn and beans, let’s say, that are also heirloom and they work with the tomatoes. (Permaculture!)  And you’ve got enough demand that you’re ready to shift to part time on your day job.  And you bought the empty lot next to you, and you’re building the soil so you can grow a few more crops.

You’re not going to suddenly buy a twenty-acre farm out in the boonies.  But you can make a decent living, selling things people want, growing things you enjoy.  While you’re still working quite hard, it’s work you love.

Neither artist nor corporation.

While a delicious, luscious heirloom tomato can be a thing of art, I don’t think farmers think of themselves as artists.  They know that there’s craft, science, and hard work in what they do.  The plants don’t give a damn if your Muse is feeling recalcitrant.  The land needs what it needs.  And every day is different.

That said, they don’t all say “I’m going to compete with WalMart” either.  They’re not looking for the best tomato strain to travel cross country in an eighteen-wheeler so they can capture more market share.

The Slow Writing Movement.

I believe that writing involves hard work.  I think it’s important to know the industry, to understand the factors involved.  I think it means continually improving your craft, putting in the hours, planning and revising and being open to feedback.

I believe that writing means connecting with readers.  I think that it’s important to know who you’re writing for.  I think that this audience should be larger than simply yourself, although I think it can be considerably smaller than most would have you believe.

I believe that writers deserve to be adequately compensated for the work that they do.  I also realize that “adequately compensated” is a moving target, especially in the new world of digital publishing.  Yes, a book costs less than a latte.  But the author can, in theory, make more per copy on that “cheaper” book than he might have in a legacy publishing structure… even after overhead costs of editing, design and promotion are taken into account.  Things vary.

I believe that we can take some more time in crafting quality novels.

I believe that, through thoughtful connection rather than calculated hype, we can slowly build an audience that will sustain our work.

I believe that once we move away from the “bestseller” approach to fiction, we can start to develop a more enjoyable, higher quality, and still profitable model of business.

And I may be crazy, but I strongly believe I’m not the only author that thinks this way.

Please share, re-tweet, or forward… and let’s see if we can’t start growing a movement that, in my opinion, is long overdue.