Saturday, August 6, 2011

Diversification and Monetization

Acckk! Business terminology! In this case, the title simply means I've made a couple of decisions about where my writing is going -- at least until the next brainstorm comes along.

Discounting a few closet novels, the completed manuscripts I have that I feel are publishable are all over the genre board: women's historical/romance, near-future medical mystery/thriller and MG fantasy. As WIPs: traditional historical romance and m/m historical fantasy. In-stage ideas: contemporary ghost and contemporary ecothriller.

My blog is a mish-mash between writing-/publishing-related topics -- and farm life.

One lesson Amazon sales has taught us all is that, overall, series sell better than standalones. While my MG is planned as a trilogy and I have some vague idea how my traditional historical romance might be extended into a series, I don't seem to have inherited the series gene. I've been knackering myself over how to stop going in so many directions and settle into one so I'll be more marketable. Where that's mainly led is me not moving at all.

I've taken a hard look at what my goals are and how they've changed over the past few years. Five years ago I had no idea I'd be retired now. My goal then was to supplement my salary so I could retire by age 56. Now that I'm retired (at age 52), money is no longer the driving force for getting published. Don't get me wrong! I'm living on a very strict budget and cutting corners and making every penny go as far as possible. After all, except for the interest on my savings and whatever I can make off my books, I have no income at all right now and will have none for the next 12 years. There are plenty of upgrades around the farm I could indulge in with a few extra dollars in my pocket -- but those extra comforts are not a priority in my life. At least not today.

So I've made the decision to accept the diversification in my writing portfolio. I'll try to cultivate splinter audiences and if any of my books should happen to strike a chord -- and there's no guarantee any will -- maybe that will motivate me to focus in on one genre for awhile. Could there be a worse marketing plan? Of course not. But I'm moving forward with that full and complete understanding, as well as the luxury of not having to rely on that plan to keep a roof over my head and the beasties rolling in hay.

Diversification, however, does not mean I can't target market to multiple audiences at once. And that's where the idea of monetization comes in. A few years ago, I toyed with the idea of -- don't laugh -- writing a memoir about my time as a vet tech. I even wrote up a few chapters, but trying to tie my own boring story into the narrative just wasn't working. The new plan is to start up an animal-focused blog where I'll post 2-3 times a week. Each week I'll post a story or pictorial about what's happening on the farm, have maybe a guest poster or some other filler, and feature a story about my vet tech days.

I have a list of 60 vignettes for my vet tech posts, so a year's worth of ideas. The plan is to collect the first 20 posts into an ebook to sell (for 99c) and then put out Part 2 then Part 3 on a 4-month cycle. Writing bite-sized, essay-type stories feels like a better strategy for me than trying to do something along the lines of All Creatures Great and Small. And, depending on how inspired I am throughout the next year, I might collect some of my farm-related ramblings -- those that are inspirational or emotional or at least have a point -- and put them up too. I'll only turn the more personal farm-related ones into an ebook, though, if the vet tech stories sell and I have some sort of following.

First order of business now is setting up the new blog and attracting, you know, readers for it. You'll notice two things:
  • This blog will become more publishing-industry focused
  • My avatar will change
I've already begun to use the picture of me with the Bengal tiger cub in other venues around the Internet. By adding an animal-related blog, the reason for having a tiger in the picture will make more sense. (The tiger is there as part of the art of misdirection -- I'm self-conscious, so having something in the picture more interesting than me makes it easier for me to look at the photo.)

Of course, I hope you'll follow the new blog, too, but if not, you'll hear all about the ebook side of it right here.

First post establishing the blog and what it's about and who I am will be Wed, August 10. First post that will appear in the ebook, Part 1, will be Fri, August 12. That means the 20th post that will be collected in the first book will be on December 23. Which means the first book will be ready just in time for the after-Christmas spike in ebook sales when people are filling up those brand-new e-readers. Coincidence? I think not.

Now I just have to come up with the perfect name for the blog and books. Any suggestions???


Landra said...

Titles tend to be my thing, no suggestions yet though. My creative juices left the building yesterday.
I'll try to think of something, but by the time it hits me you'll have something better lol!
Good luck with this new blog. I think you'll get lots of attention. I am on the board of a dog rescue in Missouri and I know that for us any information about taking care of dogs, vetting, and overall psychology is of interest. I definitely share the link with fellow rescue members.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Thanks, Landra! The focus, though, will be more anecdotal stories, more human interest, rather than anything useful in regards to actual medicine. I left the profession 25 years ago, so I wouldn't even claim to know what's going on currently.

And truth be told, I'm ready to write creatively, not instructionally -- although I do tend to teach a bit in the farm-life essays on this blog. Which is, of course, the happy medium that the essay format allows. But instruction won't be the focus, just maybe the collateral damage :o)

What would be FABULOUS, though, is if you or your members wanted to contribute maybe a monthly guest post about dog rescue -- one month speak to the qualifications, the next to the rewards, the next to a funny story about one of the rescues, the next to a sad story about one of them, etc. Maybe you do this in a newsletter already and want to recycle the content? Full citation and links, etc., on the blog, of course. If there are enough participants later on, pictures, too, in the sidebar or on a webpage of its own of animals looking for forever homes. But not too many participants! I'm just me and I only have so much time to spread around...

I'll likely be working on the theme and masthead for the blog tomorrow, so if you come up with a brilliant name before morning, shoot me an email!!! ;o)

Wilkins MacQueen said...

So you are going great guns. Any acreage will cheerfully eat up every nickel in sight.

Warren Buffet said if he and Bill Gates are walking through an airport and Bill drops a quarter, Warren picks it up.

Frugal is very in, so you're right up there with Mr. Buffet.

I sure wouldn't say this blog is a mish mash, it's developed beautifully and through it you've opened other avenues. Well done.

I was hoping to hear of a written account of some of your animal stories.

All good stuff. Time seems to be a major factor in getting word out.

Evil Editor said...

I think each anecdote should be told from the POV of the animal it features. And all the animals should refer to you as "the human who feeds me." Or "the warden."

vkw said...

My foster dogs call me "mom", my adopted dogs call me, "My Mom, not yours."

Actually, I think writing from the animals' point of view isn't that bad of an idea.


Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Mac: Woot! Buffet heights? All my goals have been met! And yes, time. The wisdom, touted by practically everyone waiting for their breakthrough, is that it's a marathon not a sprint. But there are those who stumble right out the gate and a lot who never finish the race. Not much different from traditional publishing, I suppose....

@EE: This is the post you comment on? ;o)

When email was still rather novel, I used to do a weekly update to my more-distant friends written from my dog's POV. I thought it was rather witty and charming. I'm not sure that's how my friends would have described it.

@EE and vkw: I'll think about that as a weekly feature. I did have fun with it before. And this audience is definitely the target for it. Thanks both for the idea!

Jo-Ann said...

Writing from the animals' POVs, I think, broadens the appeal - MGs enjoy it because its similar to their own anarchic POV (yeah, kids do see the parents as the Warden), and adults get hooked on the awww factor. As a long time pet-and-kid wrangler myself, I got a bunch of anecdotes of my own!

What the heck is m/m historical fantasy? MM is 2000 in Roman numerals, so unless you're referring to 2000BCE, the definition of "historical" just got broader. And the research should be a breeze, too! ;)

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Jo_Ann: The new blog will invite all age groups, I hope, but my writing voice and how I'll engage will be at the adult level. Not much different from what I do on this blog. I'll definitely be open to guest posts in any voice! And absolutely all that you care to send in your "My Secret Dinosaur" voice. :o) Good stuff, that!

LOL at m/m. That's the shorthand for saying it's a male/male romance rather than a male/female one. Generally an m/m romance is geared toward women who enjoy reading the developing relationship between men through the more female filter of emotional bonding. It *can* be hot and steamy romance or erotica or, like mine, where it's all about the emotion. Heck, my guys don't even kiss through the first 90% of the book. Coincidentally, it *is* set during the Roman Empire -- about CCC CE.

Jo-Ann said...

Hi Phoenix
Yeah, I suspected the m/m thing referred to gay relationshhip, but given the lack of the word "romance" anywhere within the description, I just wasn't sure.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

We're all waiting for the Phoenix Sullivan dictionary of definitive terms and buzzwords for the writing set. Written from your 5 ft long iguana's pov. Or a goat.

Xenith said...

I'd call it something like "My Other Blog" so that's not much help. Titles and me don't get on well.

It sounds interesting though