Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Business Model of Writers In A Changing World

I've been inserting posts in this blog about the Writer's Business Model for years.  Here's one of many:


The thesis I learned from Alvin Toffler's Future Shock decades ago is now a constantly growing reality for writers -- as a writer you are self-employed and a "small business."  Well, micro-business.  But a business none-the-less.

So I've also done posts on Marketing -- about which I really know nothing and have no education in that field.  But I keep running into people with marketing expertise and learning from them.


I just had a writing student self-publish an item and come back to me bewildered about why 3 readers commented in public that they were disappointed, couldn't relate to the main character.

The writer felt the book was terrible.  I counter-argued that the marketing was terrible -- the particular readers who thought from the blurb that they'd like the book did not like it because they couldn't relate to the main character.  If the marketing targeted readers who could relate to that character, the readers would not be wailing out their disappointment.  That's really how it works.  Markets are divided by what kinds of characters they can relate to.

The same plot told from a different character's point of view could grab that audience. 

There are rules for picking a protagonist, and I've detailed them in prior posts.  But self-publishing is all about business model -- and the choice of protagonist is all about business model.

The business of writing is, however, still in massive flux.  The audiences are changing faster than publishing can keep up. 

Here is another take on the theories I'm kicking around, looking for how this all will settle out. 

I've been blogging for some time about the WRITER'S BUSINESS MODEL constructed on shifting sands.


Only new, small, startup, Indie with no baggage, NIMBLE companies can do the kind of things required by the new audiences.  As a new writer, or an older writer going Indie, you have a chance  nobody before you has had.

One important point to remember: release on many platforms  not just Amazon or B&N or Smashwords (which reaches a lot) -- reach for wide availability, and plan to add platforms and outlets as the appear (remembering they will disappear, too). 

I blogged on the state of TV fiction, noting the increasing # of commercials and the disappearance even of REPEATS -- how there are vast stretches on hundreds of channels (I did a lot of flipping and channel surfing)  -- showing the shrinking market for TV fiction while netflix, hulu, Amazon and others are grabbing "content" to stream.


The title is WHERE IS EVERYBODY? because I saw a huge lacuna in the TV broadcast fiction flow.   People who schedule TV and sell commercial time (I've known some) know when there's audience and when not!  I don't.  But I know they put stuff in front of eyeballs, and if they can't find eyeballs they don't put the stuff there.

I argued in that post that my observations showed a massive shift in habits of the viewing public.

I've done a series of blog posts starting in December 2012 focusing on the origin, development, and effect of PR into modern "Marketing" (i.e. commercial advertising) with lots more to say about that, and how an Indie writer can exploit that trend.  I've learned a lot from examining this current election cycle.

THEME-PLOT INTEGRATION is the series title for those.  There will be a few more in that series later.

Here's PART 4 with links to prior parts. 

I thought I was the only one to see what I was seeing in bits and pieces I could glean from TV and online ads about the election.

But one of the foremost media personalities with a track record in POLLING has (in disgust because he was oh-so-wrong) spat out the exact observation I (without the expensive input sources he has) made!

Here's his article on it (note the disgust he evidences - the confused distress in the semantics).


Billions spent on TV ads literally made no difference in people's political opinions.

What's astonishing to me is that I knew this before the billions went to TV ads, and he (who has all the info I don't have) didn't know it.  Can that be true?  Really?  I seriously doubt it.  He ran an internet campaign to collect millions to spend on political ads and spent it.  Many other organizations did the same.  It wasn't unpaid volunteer work.  People got paid to write and produce those ads, to market-test them, to track the statistics, oh a lot of people made a living from those millions that had nothing to do with educating voters. 

Note in this discussion that nobody spends money like that on ads selling books.  Even a blockbuster movie doesn't get ad-blitz coverage like that.  Fiction isn't profitable to advertise -- that's the only firm conclusion I know of.  The few book commercials I've seen have been sparsely distributed.  Today book trailers go up on YouTube and get distributed via social networks -- not TV.  Cost-effectiveness is the reason. 

Ad resistance is heartening to me because I see how TV ads have manipulated people into self-destructive behavior, and it seems while I wasn't paying attention, the trend has reversed.

It's dismaying because all the other evidence I have indicates people are just as amenable to self-destructive behavior as ever because they can't see fallacies in other people's reasoning because (many people in education have told me) of the lack of elementary school training in basic reasoning. 

As I've pointed out in my series on Theme-Plot Integration, a writer who can identify and define a popular fallacy can sell a lot of fiction using that insight.  Critical thinking is now a marketable commodity.  Think about that! 

Note that the fallacies I'm pointing out in the Theme-Plot integration series that writers can use are not about "fact-checking" (though that's a fertile field to plow).  The facts behind a fallacy may or may not be solid -- it's the conclusion that's fallacious.

I see in the gaming community a glimmer of light. 

Here is a group that is training mind-and-hand to not fall for specious tricks for the benefit of the tricker to the detriment of the trickee. 

Some of my most popular blog entries here are


and this one with over 1500 views:

Those are about TV shows which focus on armoring viewers against con artist's tricks (i.e. advertising). 

The fragmentation of audiences into different media (which left that silent hole in TV Fiction as I surveyed it during a period between "seasons" ) could be the counter to the whole thing of controlling the world by creating herd behavior. 

Kickstarter.com is a beacon of real hope here, as is the whole social media trend.  Indie self-publishing ebook industry is coming along.  Amazon is making FEATURE FILMS!!!

People want to do what they want to do when and where they want to do it with whatever they happen to have at hand, and no back-sass.  

People just won't deal with barriers like DRM.

However it may seem to outsiders, this behavior is not capriciousness or whim, it's the drive to a self-chosen goal.

What audiences have at hand these days is a smartphone.  Various tablets likewise.  There are platform wars going on by those whose business model requires proprietary control of their product.  People just won't STAND FOR THAT.

So create your business model to cater to those who WON'T STAND FOR THAT.

Provide them a product that delivers the pleasure hit of a world where "I DON'T HAVE TO STAND FOR THAT!"  And a life-model that shows how to stand independently within a bonded cooperative partnership -- where the partnership doesn't have to stand for that!

The success of C. J. Cherryh's FOREIGNER series is real evidence that I'm onto something here.

If you haven't been reading that, get #1 and work through it in numerical order.  It's a series of trilogies, all about the same Main (POV) Character, telling his personal STORY -- but as he becomes a mover and shaker in a giant, multicultural environment.  C. J. Cherryh is one of the best writers working today -- and this particular series is lightly laced with alien romance -- which you just don't see unless you know it's there.  Sex is "go to black" and use your imagination.  But the Relationship, the intimate personal relationship between human and alien is what drives the plot. 

The aliens live in a world where "herd" creatures evolved to human levels (maybe beyond), but their "herd" instincts are different from anything on earth --- yet somewhat similar. 

The human "herd" works the opposite of earth's animal herd -- we don't follow a leader.  We all make individual decisions and if others make the same decision (usually for different reasons) -- we all SEEM TO RUN IN THE SAME DIRECTION -- but that's not what's happening. 

Working with that in this changing world where what appeared to be a human herd (as detailed in the Theme-Plot Integration posts on fallacy spotting) can reach a very wide audience among those who JUST WON'T STAND FOR THAT (whatever 'that' may be in your novel).  And toss in an alien civilization trying to puzzle out humans, and you can really confuse the aliens, getting a lot of mileage out of one thematic premise.  C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner universe is a grand example.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. In fact, TV advertising DID work in the election -- just not the model Mr. Morris was working from.

    He was using the old paradigm of the same blanket ads on Big 4 Broadcast Networks nationwide.

    Whereas Obama's campaign used a little thing called demographics. They identified the most important small districts in each pivotal state and bought time during specific shows on specific cable channels in those areas. From local cable companies, who know those eyeballs the best.

    An area in Ohio that's suffered from tire manufacturing moving to China? The Obama campaign showed ads on that local cable company about Romney's enthusiastic support of outsourcing manufacturing. Women's issues? They advertised equal pay and birth control support on Lifetime. Want to reach blue-collar men? Boom, sports networks. Black people? You got it, BET. Elderly people worried about social security? Hallmark and the like.

    The Obama campaign spent less than half as much on TV ads and got infinitely more bang for the buck. They spent only as much as they had to, and only where they needed to.

    I believe this was all detailed in a Bloomberg story sometime earlier this month.

    Advertising does work -- when you do it right.