Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Does the Economy Change Your Writing Plans?

The economy shows no signs of improvement. Magazine sales are down. Newspapers are shrinking in size, some closing. Book sales are falling and are expected to continue their decline per Publishers Weekly.

On the positive side, Kindle just released three new e-readers just in time for holiday gift shopping. Also, Trident Media, a literary agency, has launched Trident E-book Operations, to handle the e-book development and sales of its clients. Still highly traditional and very selective, no different than the literary agency side of their house, they intend to aid their clients in making the most of their e-book process while giving the literary agents a new direction for their careers.

Take into account your writing sales and accomplishments for 2011. Now . . . how do you intend to adjust your writing plan in 2012?

No, I'm not trying to shove you into writing an e-book, but the turn of events at least should make you consider them.  What I'm trying to do is make you study the market around you in order to best plan for yourself.

We often make our writing plans in a cocoon, without consideration of external forces. Any business studies the economy, its specialized industry news, and the competition in devising its annual business plan. You should have such a plan.

For instance, I'm releasing my mystery novel, the first in the Carolina Slade series, in February 2012. I'll be attending more than the usual number of conferences in 2012 as a speaker and panelist, from St Louis to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Florida. Since I'll be traveling, I hope to stop intermittently along the way to meet and greet pockets of FundsforWriters readers. Why not? I 've always wanted to see what you people look like.

But also, the e-book market keeps expanding, and I'd be remiss not to court it in my plans. Why not create a couple of e-books? And why not work on a book that accents the topic matter I present at conferences since I have to prepare the material anyway?

I might decrease magazine submissions, update my online presence since a depressed economy keeps more people at home and on the computer, and I might revamp my advertising offers. Since I suspect higher unemployment means more burgeoning writers, why not upgrade the Annual FundsforWriters Essay Contest?

1. Step back and look at your writing efforts. Don't just study your dreams or your income goals. Glance over all of it.

2. Identify your main goal and the secondary goals in your writing journey. What you FEEL like writing.

3. Assign a number to the income you need to make from that writing.

4. Study the industry. How are your magazine markets holding up? How are your copywriting clients faring? What are the odds of you selling your nonfiction book and is it still a pertinent topic in light of the economic environment?

5. Which of your goals will and which goals won't provide a return on your investment in 2012? Which will provide income in 2013 or 2014 based upon the work you put into them in 2012?

6. Define the hours per week you can apply to your writing, to include marketing and research.

7. If you are a copywriter, do you need to shift away from government markets to smaller, commercial clients? If you are a magazine freelancer, do you  need to pitch more to trade publications than standard glossies? Do you saturate your local magazine market as well as you can to keep your travel, research and communications local, and therefore, less expensive? Do change from publishing your romance in print to just e-book? Do you need to emphasize e-book sales more in your self-promotion?

Think like an entrepreneur. Thinking like an artist doesn't put money in the bank. Entrepreneurs don't just try to make a better widget. They know how the world needs those widgets, how competitors are making THEIR widgets, and whether the widget market is softening because of outside factors.

Slow down the writing for a moment, now that we're facing the last quarter of the 2011 calendar year, and decide just what it is you want and need to write in order to give the best balance to your artistic and your need-to-pay-the-rent sides. Coordinating your writing in 2012 helps you catch the shortfalls early and make adjustments before you reach 2013 and wonder what the heck happened.


Civil War Horror (Sean McLachlan) said...

The economic downturn actually hasn't hurt my writing career. My main publisher is Osprey, a military history press that dominates the market in highly illustrated, short works. In bad times, people tend to retreat to their enthusiasms and Osprey's sales are actually UP.

My other main sugar daddy is Gadling.com, the most popular travel blog on the web. As people shift their reading to digital, we're doing just fine.

The economic crisis is making it harder for me to find new markets, though, especially in the horribly bottlenecked fiction market. Because of this, I have decided to go with Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace to publish my Civil War novel.

A professional author with ten traditionally published books chooses self-publishing? Yup. Times are changing. For more on my reasoning, check out the link below.


Anonymous said...

You've just tipped the scale to a million AND ONE reasons to not write and/or not try to publish.

Books will still be published the traditional way. Movies are still going to be filmed. In other words, the earth will continue to turn.

If it's not the economy it'll be some other global disaster to frighten us. Now is the time, more than ever, to write!

"Tomorrow is another day."


D.G. Hudson said...

In writing, business and in life, it's always good to assess your goals and your accomplishments.

You either control your life or you let your life control you. Which will it be?

Good post, Hope, well presented. Thanks.

Arlee Bird said...

You have provided some real food for thought.

Heck, it was a whole buffet of food for thought.

Tossing It Out

Diva Jefferson said...

Hope, I agree with you about how important our online presence is. I have many plans for the coming years. I want to create more of a platform.

Ebooks are the way to go.

Good luck with your writing.
-Diva J.

Anonymous said...

Well, well, do I see an 180 degree turn here? For months, I've been reading your negative comments on e-publishing. I'm glad to see you've kept an open mind on the subject.

Incidentally, one of the best mystery writers around, Lawrence Block, is heavily into e-book publishing, while also maintaining his mainstream published books.


Hope Clark said...

Nope, Anonymous. No 180-degree turn. I've been an ebook fan from day one. Just hate seeing writers jump into them who aren't ready to publish. And they number many.