THE Secret Handshake of Successful Digital Publishing
You’ve been to all the blogs. Read all the books. Gone to conferences. Heard the gurus. Tweeted. Facebooked. Blogged. Pinterested. Consulted your spiritual adviser. Paid a psychic. Sacrificed a goat. Hit a gopher with a stick.
And none of it has really worked.
John Locke wrote a book on how it works. Joe Konrath has a very popular blog on how it works: The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and has a free download written with Barry Eisler giving a lot of great information. Heck, Jen Talty and I’ve written a book on how it works: The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author. But knowing how it works, doesn’t necessarily equate to it actually working. It’s like knowing how to perform brain surgery via a YouTube video and actually performing it. And having the patient not only survive, but thrive.
Okay, that last one was a bit much. But you get the idea.
As I was sacrificing my latest goat to the Gods of Publishing (called readers, not agent, editor, publisher, bookstore), I was ruminating on this matter. I was trying to boil it, the same time as the goat, down to ONE THING. How did I go from a couple of hundred eBooks sold in January 2011 to over 400,000 sold in the year and grossing seven figures? While there was a big stew of ingredients (goat, chickens, gophers, a newt eye), what was the key ingredient?
What was The Secret Handshake?
Okay, get the kiddies out of the room. Close the doors. Pull the shades. I’m going to let you in on it.
The secret is:
Part of it came to me reading this excerpt from the NY Times titles is “Is Lana Del Rey the Future of Pop Stardom?”
I have no clue who Lana Del Rey is. Still no idea except having read this article about her.
6 “gurus” gave their take on her success and potential for future success. It seems like all six are saying different things:
- Online fame is the only sure bet
- It’s about discovery
- Don’t believe the hype
- Fans, not videos make a star
- The hunger for new content
- The complete package
But if you read carefully, you’ll see they’re all saying the same thing. For this singer, who I’ve never heard of and have no clue who she is, to hang around and be successful long term, she needs CONTENT.
I was watching an interview with Chris Rock. He said after his stint on SNL he was kind of washed up. No one wanted him. He felt the pressure to do shorter bits so he could get a special, but it wasn’t what felt right to him. He did a bunch of things, but they are all related to content:
He went with longer shows when everyone else was going shorter because it’s what he believed in. (Don’t follow trends, do what is your passion)
He ‘trained’ for his shows like a prize-fighter. Literally. Locking himself away for two months, working his material (he worked on his craft).
The real stunner was when he said he tested his material in the toughest place he could find: West Palm Beach. He figured if he could do his show in front of that audience and it worked, he could do it anywhere. He said it was like training underwater, and then performing above water later. My wife said: that’s why everyone goes to Colorado to train at altitude. It’s harder. It makes you better.
I mention this because I see swarms of writers focusing on tweeting, blogging, promoting, etc, but I’m seeing less and less focus on content. Our online workshops on promoting and marketing sell out, but less people sign up for the ones on craft. That’s backward.
Three years from now, the only people making a living writing are going to be the ones who keep producing quality content not the ones who tweet, blog, Facebook, Pinterest, hit a gopher with a stick. That isn’t to say that no promotion is required, but its not the main ingredient in successful digital publishing.
While discoverability is key in digital publishing, sustainability trumps it. And sustainability comes from consistent, great content that your readers love.
And our bestselling author from Australia, Colin Falconer is one of Five Compelling Reads from Authors You Need To Know this week on Nook, so check out Venom.
Write It Forward