Episode 129 – Harlequin, Rebranding, and Literary Acclaim (with Ashley Durrer from InstaFreebie)

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Question of the Week: If you could choose literary fame as a pauper or financial success without acclaim as an indie, which would you choose and why? How would your answer have differed when you just started out as an author?

After plugging the upcoming Indie Author Day (on October 8th, 2016), Jim and Bryan chatted with Ashley Durrer from InstaFreebie for their latest lab segment. Following their big thanks to two patrons, Craig Lea Gordon (and his book Hypercage ( https://amzn.com/B01KPGFQXY ) and Megan Haskell (and her book Sanyere: The Heir Apparent http://bit.ly/sanyare2 ), the publishing pilgrims took on tips related to relaunching your books, Shelfie’s new reader tool, and a “caring” social media strategy. News stories included Google Play’s new recommendation algorithm, Amazon’s big news about Audible, the end of the authors vs. Harlequin lawsuit, one author’s tough road, and another author’s joke-turned-success story. This week’s Question of the Week: If you could choose literary fame as a pauper or financial success without acclaim as an indie, which would you choose and why? How would your answer have differed when you just started out as an author?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How authors can renew interest in their series with a relaunch
  • How new features on Shelfie can help readers find new books
  • How authors can increase social media engagement with C.A.R.E
  • How Google Play Book’s new app stacks up against Amazon Kindle’s
  • What new free features Amazon is offering Prime members
  • How one group of authors settled a lawsuit against Harlequin
  • How one author went from writing a critically-acclaimed novel to delivering mail
  • How switching to genre fiction got one author shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize
Links:
Question of the Week: If you could choose literary fame as a pauper or financial success without acclaim as an indie, which would you choose and why? How would your answer have differed when you just started out as an author?

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  • By literary do you mean like in Literary Fiction? If yes, no.

    I’d like to write something like that one day, I guess, but I really would rather write a bunch of kick ass space opera, urban fantasy, and a little something romantic that makes people tear up and even ache inside. I want to write what fans love, buy, and actually read.

    • Bryan

      “I want to write what fans love, buy, and actually read.” Awesome point, Roland. Me too.

  • The real question is, which is more of a compromise: writing a book to market to pay the bills while you write high art in your spare time, or flipping burgers to pay the bills while you write high art in your spare time?

    • Bryan

      Haha, great question, Jonathan :).

  • Lavie Margolin

    Thanks for the heads up on Indie Author day, Bryan. I’l be presenting and exhibiting in the Bronx
    ! https://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/09/13/indie-author-fair-bronx-library

    • Bryan

      That’s fantastic, Lavie! I hope you get a big crowd and that you get everything you want out of the event.

  • Annie Adams

    Having a hard time not jumping to conclusions and making judgements over the story about the woman who achieved early success with her writing and is now working as a mail carrier.

    Actually, having a hard time not being annoyed along with other emotions.

    I would rather earn a living with my writing, financial success first. Perhaps the acclaim comes later anyway. 🙂
    When I first started out as an author—I can’t say if I would have felt different, because I was doing then what I am doing now. I can say in hindsight that I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice. I have author friends who quit the day job when their “big break” came along. Now they are fulfilling their contracts for books 2 and 3 while working at the new job they had to take because being “famous” didn’t end up paying the bills.

    • Bryan

      Oof, sorry to hear about your author friends. “Being ‘famous’ didn’t end up paying the bills.” Great quote! 🙂

  • “I would like to be paid to write.”

    Me, too, but I haven’t earned that yet and neither has she. She also seems to think that many traditionally published authors are full time writers, when many (if not most) are not.

    The Bob Mayer piece was pretty spot on, but I wish he’d have given her a few bullets on what to do NOW, should she read his post.

    Start writing again. Somehow.
    Write in the morning before you deliver mail. Before you’re so tired.
    Write something people want to read and under a pen name.
    Get a job that’s equally mindless but less physical. Or multiple, part time jobs.
    $40,000 per year with her past experience? That should be achievable as a store manager or something that could be far less demanding than carrying a heavy bag all day.

    A university writing professor would almost be expected to be writing.

    • Bryan

      Great tips, Roland. We’ll see if she comes over here :).

  • I choose to selfpublish because I have more than one book in me. I am surprised she had just one book in her and left her job and then wrote nothing else and expected fame and fortune. Reality rarely works that way. You have to make it happen. Plan on repeatability: 1 word, 1 page, 1 story, 1 chapter, 1 book at a time. Then remember to keep repeating it. I am slowly building my writing career and stable of books this way and the money will follow.

    • Bryan

      Repeatability is definitely the key word here, JB. Thanks for posting.

  • Bryan

    Sure thing, SJ. Glad you’ve had such a great experience with IF! Yeah, it’s definitely ego vs. earnings here :).

  • Kendall Hanson

    Jim, I loved my 72 Skylark, but I agree about Google Play. I don’t understand either.

    • Bryan

      Haha, Kendall. Yup, doesn’t make much sense.

  • QOTW: I’m going to take a different answer than the general gist posted so far (and what I expect from any future and sensible responses…) If I was working on a project, right now, and knew that if I zigged I’d get the literary acclaim, but if I zagged I’d be able to start my way onto financial success, I’d probably write something that’s going to give me the literary acclaim. At this particular moment in time, I like the work that I do and the lifestyle it’s allowing me to lead, and generally speaking I think that it’s probably a little easier to have financial success in the current marketplace with the same amount of effort as it would be to attain the literary accolades. So…get that out of the way, and go for the financial success later with my future books. Money can always be squandered, but once you’ve won those awards that’s forever and (generally speaking) won’t be taken away from you. Plus…later down the line, when ideally writing to earn a living is my living, I’d have less time and inclination to aim at those literary acclaims as I have now while I’m living reasonably comfortably. Much easier to justify it right now.

    • Bryan

      I think that’s a fantastic perspective to take, Blaine, and it really is keeping the long game in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kendall Hanson

    Question of the Week: Show me the money. I already have my grandchildren’s acclaim, and that’s enough for me.

    • Bryan

      “Show me the money!!!”

  • I have a saying, my first reaction to being told I’ve won a literary prize would be to ask what I did wrong. My younger self agrees

    • Terrible, but true.

      • Bryan

        *nod* *nod*

    • Victoria Danann

      I have had a couple of authors say to me, “I’ve won all these awards, but I don’t have any sales.” My conclusion is that the award decision makers are out of touch with the times.

      • Bryan

        Yup, I’ve heard that sentiment too, Victoria.

    • Bryan

      Haha, love that POV, Edwin. Thanks.

  • Margarita Morris

    I would choose financial success over literary acclaim any day. But financial success and literary acclaim do not have to be mutually exclusive. Books that are commercially successful should still be beautifully written with great characters and skillfully constructed plots.

    • Bryan

      I agree, Margarita. They can definitely come hand-in-hand.

  • Victoria Danann

    IMPORTANT!! Regarding Ashley’s comment about KU allowing 10% of content to be published elsewhere. I scoured terms and conditions looking for a reference to this. When I couldn’t find it I posted on K-Board for help. Within an hour I got a reply that said this.

    “They allow short excerpts to be used for promotional reasons, like a preview on your blog/site. It’s not intended for anyone to publish parts of a book anywhere else (like, the first few chapters as an intro). A lot of people say you can publish one short of a collection somewhere else, so long as it’s less than 10% of the whole book, but I wouldn’t risk getting the ban hammer, personally. YMMV”

    Bottom Line… Get it in writing from Amazon before you do it.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for sharing that info, Victoria. Always good to double check with that sort of stuff.

  • Daniel Martone

    I could not care less about the fame. I just want the stories that clutter my brain, out of my head on and paper (well, digital paper) and to earn a living do so.

  • Daniel Martone

    I could not care less about the fame. I just want the stories that clutter my brain, out of my head and on paper (well, digital paper) and to earn a living do so.

    • Bryan

      Mmm, brains.

  • Laura Martone

    After a decade of being a poorly paid, traditionally published travel guide author, I certainly wouldn’t say “no” to having both literary fame AND financial success – especially since indie authors are finally starting to be recognized by the so-called powers-that-be that dole out awards. With my luck, though, I’d likely have to settle for being a literary pauper with no acclaim! That’s why I’m delighted that my hubby and I are working on several genre series (all based in the same world) – at least that way, we’ll have a chance to tell our stories together… and still manage to keep our home-on-wheels operational!

    • Bryan

      I’m delighted about y’all’s operation too :).

  • Chris Syme

    Sorry, but show me the money. But I love Bryan’s formula: writer one for me, writer one for them. And as an aside, I think you guys should do an episode on using Kickstarter or GoFundMe for authors who are struggling financially but want to write another book. Jim had a great point during the show–that might be something that would interest some motivated authors out there.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Chris! I’m pretty sure I heard that one from a John Cusack interview :).

  • Rebecca Hunter

    Just listened to your presentation on Indie Fridge and then came here and looked around. Great show!

    • Bryan

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! Happy to have you as a new listener :).