Uh, oh. I just got another bill for dues in the book business

pay your invoice here

Years ago I happened to be in Nashville sitting around the table with some old head guys in the  music business.  They were bitching about a new act that had sprung up out of nowhere and grabbed a top spot on the charts.

The granddaddy in the business, a man with a number of hit records under his belt both as a producer and a song writer, listened to the complaints and then weighed in on the discussion.

“Some people never get a bill for dues,”  he said.

That pretty well ended the discussion, and I have often thought about his remark.

Without a doubt, we can point to outliers in any field, the guy who steps up to his first at bat in the bigs and pulls a knock off grand slam over the left field fence.

But that old head producer knew the truth.  He was just making a point.

The truth is that for every one person who doesn’t get a bill for dues, ten thousand do.

This principle is unspoken, especially in the book business which celebrates and attempts to normalize the success of the exception. Any approach that seeks to make the exception the rule is a formula for disappointment and failure.

Simply stated, the race goes to the tortoise.

When it comes to selling books the tortoise is the one who grinds day in and day out.

What does she grind?

She grinds words into stories.

And then what?

She sets her mind to selling those stories.

Part one is easy, part two is hell.

Part two, the book selling component, requires an Indie author to promote her work relentlessly.

It is not a one-step process, it’s not two steps, or three.  It is a daily search for the next promotional opportunity.

Some of it can be done on the cheap, i.e., through social media. Some of it requires a cash outlay on various sites that market books to the author’s target audience.

So, for an author the bill for dues is broken down two ways:  1. Sweat equity, plain old elbow grease, and 2. Money for advertising.

The author must commit to both.

Is that fair?  Shouldn’t a good book sell itself?

As far as I can tell fairness doesn’t enter the equation.  A writer produces the best product she can, then she leaves no stone unturned getting the word out about it.

The cold hard truth is that for the most part the author whose books get the biggest promotional push sells the most books.

This principle only begins to shift to the author’s favor when she has established a large enough fan base of loyal readers to know her next release will reach a particular sales threshold.

But that fan base comes from the grinding it out, and only tortoises are any good at that game.

So, pay the bill for dues and keep your head down, fellow writers.

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