Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Writing Business

How To Survive The Recession: Author Edition

Image by Peggy_Marco via Pixabay

Just a few weeks ago, there was an article that published a survey of the world’s top economists and 80% of them said that they believed this current recession is going to last for 1 ½ to 2 years.  They also predicted a double dip recession where things would look like they were recovering only to “dip” again.  Sadly, this isn’t your typical recession where things look bleak and then slowly improve.  This thing is going to take a while which will be catastrophic for companies that were already struggling before this recession hit.

If you are an author who is contracted with a publisher that isn’t doing well, now may be the time to start securing your future before you find yourself without an income.  Below are six tips that will put you in the driver’s seat during this recession.    

Tip 1: Update Your Online Presence

This includes your website, social media accounts or blog, if your information is outdated, or if there are any broken links, then you need to correct that.  If you’re looking for an agent or freelancing you should let people know.  Your professional online presence needs to speak to the type of people you are looking to attract.  If you don’t know who that is, then you need to sit down and figure that out.      

Tip 2: Start Leveraging Your Network

Hopefully, you’ve been socializing online and have made a few author friends.  I’m also hoping you’ve joined groups and maybe even started one yourself?  If so, congratulations, you have friends in the industry who can help you out.  Hopefully, these people are professionals who can help you find publishers, agents or just good editing software. 

Your network should also be able to help you avoid scams which is important since there’s been a recent rash of con-artists impersonating well known literary agents and major publishing companies

Another thing a good network can even give you is the latest gossip on who’s paying authors and who’s not.  An excellent example of this was the Ellora’s Cave controversy where authors shared stories about late or missing payments all over social media.  A short while later, after a lot of drama, the company folded.  Keep in mind, there is strength in numbers, and this is especially true during a crisis.

Tip 3: Diversify

Most successful authors write in multiple genres, usually out of boredom but some do it to create multiple streams of income.  For example, if romance is no longer selling then they can count on their sci-fi or thriller novels to pick up the slack.  

Also, authors who are signed with a traditional publisher may want to look to self-publishing or work-for-hire opportunities in order to supplement their income.  It’s basic financial sense to not depend on one source for your livelihood.   

Tip 4: Raise Your Expectations From Your Partners

If your publisher isn’t selling books successfully, then it may be time to look for another publisher.  I know authors who’ve published with companies and even during good times the company struggled to sell books across the board.  To make matters worse, there’s always an excuse which usually includes, Amazon, the internet, or problems with the printers but you can’t afford to keep accepting excuses.  You’re running a business and your publisher is supposed to be a business partner and partners are supposed to carry their own weight.  This might mean buying back the rights to your work. If that’s not possible, then you may have to start over with a new company or even self-publish.     

Tip 5: Gold Digging

In a recession it makes sense to research the company you want to do business with.  Be sure they’re making real money and have more than just a handful of employees.  Big companies generally do well in a recession in fact, most of them see economic meltdowns as an opportunity to buy more IP (intellectual property) or entire companies.  It’s the large companies that are still buying and not cutting back, and that’s where the opportunities lie for authors.

Tip 6: Increase Your Marketing Effort

It should go without saying that during a recession you’ll need to increase your marketing efforts.  That can mean increasing the amount of queries you send out, to expanding your social media outreach, or running more ads for your business.  Even if hard times haven’t hit you yet, that doesn’t mean that they won’t hit the people you do business with.  As a business owner, you need to keep your options open.

A Final Word

Recessions don’t have to be scary, remember there are people who make their fortunes during tough times and there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them.  Instead of seeing a recession as an apocalyptic disaster, see it for what it is; a time where sectors of the economy get shaken up.  We have to keep in mind that as things shift we can actually find ourselves in a better position than before.  The publishing industry will figure this out, and before you know it, we’ll all be complaining again about how boring the industry is and wishing again for a little excitement.       

Advertising, Business, Marketing

Affiliate Marketing For Indie Authors Part 1: The Basics

pinterest_85ca29515a
Pic via Pexels

These days it seems as though everyone’s hustling products, from celebrities, athletes, and even politicians.  Usually, they can be found promoting anything from beauty products to prescription meds, often serving as an affiliate of a company or of several companies.  Before I go on, let me explain what an affiliate does: An affiliate is a person or entity chosen to promote services or products on behalf of a business.  Affiliates are usually given a percentage of any sale made through them.

There is serious money to be made these days selling products to your online audience.  And today, an indie author can approach affiliate marketing in two ways first, as an affiliate (also known as a content creator), and as an advertiser.

Now I have to be honest, most indie authors say that the earnings they make from affiliate marketing can barely cover their Netflix subscription.  On the other hand, there are few who are making thousands from affiliate marketing.  It all depends on what you sell and the deal you make.

Popular Things Authors Sell and Promote

  1. Books; digital, audio and print versions.
  2. Writing or editing software.
  3. Learning eCourses.
  4. Subscription services like; Audible or Amazon Prime.
  5. Book related swag like; T-shirts, posters and tote bags.
  6. Book cover design services.
  7. Editing services.
  8. Conference or workshop tickets.

Before You Start

Before you go signing up for all the affiliate programs available, please be careful and realistic as to what you are most comfortable promoting. If you’re a religious person, maybe signing up with Harlequin (a romance publisher) isn’t the best idea. Keep in mind, if you don’t like or understand a product, this affiliate experience will most likely end in a disaster.
Another thing to seriously consider is your audience’s tolerance for promotion. When your readers sign up for your blog or liked your social media page, they are signing up to connect with YOU not your benefactor. It is possible that if you promote too much, your audience may get turned off by it and leave.

You Don’t Have To Sell Your Soul

As a content creator, it is up to you as to who you’ll work with and what products you’ll promote. You can always say no to a deal especially, if the terms are unreasonable or pathetic. As I said before, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

What’s Expected

It’s not uncommon for a company to want a content creator to write an article or review about their product. This can mean anything from a Youtube video or a blog post. And as the content creator, you’ll have to act natural as well as keep the dialog organic.

Spaces You Can Rent To An Advertiser

  • Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters (Check the rules, Amazon doesn’t allow affiliate links in emails while other sites do.)
  • Podcasts

Be warned that some companies might give you a script that you’ll be required to read from or post on your blog.  Usually, these scripts consist of the sales copy, a call to action and links to the product. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are companies who will give you the freedom to sell a product anyway you see fit.

Know Who You’re Selling To

The only way for this affiliate marketing thing to work is to make sure that you’re selling to the right crowd. For example, you can’t sell wheat bread to an audience of Celiacs. I mean you could, but I doubt they would appreciate you for it. So you need to know your audience before you can sell them ANYTHING. Hopefully, you’ve gotten to know your audience through your analytics, the comment section of your blog or through random polls. If you haven’t done this, you had better get started. The most common questions content creators ask their audiences are;

  1. What are you struggling with? (Find a product that can help them with their problems.)
  2. What are your favorite books or products? (Try pitching that publisher/ company for an affiliate opportunity.)
  3. What products do you hate? (Avoid them like the plague.)
  4. What are your goals? (Find a product to help them reach their goals.)

If you can get your audience to answer some of these questions, you’ll have a pretty good idea as to which products to sell and which ones to avoid.

Well there you have it, tune in next week where I’ll discuss the requirements for successful affiliate marketing.

You can check out Part 2 here: Affiliate Marketing for Indie Authors Part 2.