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The Freelancer

I'm just now getting around to reading a bunch of magazines and other materials that have been piling up over the last several months. I ended up just tearing articles out of several issues of Locus because there's no way I'll be able to read all of them from cover to cover. I did save the most recent Locus to read from cover to cover though. And somehow, I got two copies of Realms of Fantasy this month.

I don't usually blog about reading from the EFA newsletter, The Freelancer, but there were a couple articles in it that I marked up. Rather than letting magazines pile up or filling binder upon binder with clippings, I've decided to blog the parts that interest me instead. Free advertising for them, handy reference for me. Seems like a win-win situation to me.

From The Freelancer Vol. XXXI, No. 2, Nov.-Dec. 2006:

In "How to Turn One Book Into a Full-Time Living," Peter Bowerman (author of The Well-Fed Writer) makes a case for self-publishing. A lot of the folks I run with and run into in cyberspace look at self-publishing with a certain amount of derision and disdain, but I think there is a place for self-publishing. Anybody who wants to self-publish needs to go into it with their eyes wide open and be both willing and able to do all of the legwork to market their book though. One thing Bowerman says is that "When your per book profit (after expenses) is many times what you'd make with a publisher, you can be nicely profitable with much lower numbers." He claims that he has made a comfortable living off of The Well-Fed Writer for four years. I don't disbelieve him, but I wonder how many hours have gone into marketing (not to mention writing) that book. The title says that you can make a full-time living off of your self-published book but I'm sure it's also a full-time job to market it. Not all of us can afford to leave our day jobs, no matter how much we may want to, to put full-time effort into marketing ourselves. More than that, not all of us are good at marketing ourselves. He does include a caveat that if you don't have the time to "market your masterpiece" then self-publishing is not the best option for you.

As for specific tips on self-publishing, he talks about communicating with reviewers in advance rather than sending out unsolicited review copies, making sure that your book is visible "everywhere," hanging out where your target audience hangs out, and carefully selecting mainstream media venues to pitch your book to. In this latter case, he also talks about not pitching your book per se, but rather what is relevant today about your book. In addition, he states that a web site is mandatory to marketing your book, and suggests including your URL in every email you send.

Some of the article is really common sense. I figured half of this stuff out on my own without knowing what "marketing" was when I started my adoption web site which received a lot of hits (but I wasn't earning anything from it either). I ended up highlighting a lot from this article though, perhaps because it was good to see someone who's achieved a fair amount of success essentially telling me that I was on the right track.

He also has a free report by this same title at his web site for The Well-Fed Self-Publisher. I haven't read the full report yet myself, but skimming over it gives me the impression that his article in The Freelancer is a condensed version of the report available at his web site.

Helen McLean writes about blogging in "Add Bells, Whistles, Blogs--and more--to your Web Site" but the two things that really caught my eye here were links to Google's page for webmasters and Sreenath Sreenivasan's web site, which McLean describes as "a wealth of information and a great place to start" if you're interested in blogging and creating your own web site.


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