I rarely buy how-to books about writing. And certainly not the catch-all how-to-do- everything type. A book on self-editing? Yes. A book on formatting for the Kindle? Yes. But something like Write. Publish. Repeat? No way. Except that I did. It was recommended in a Kboards thread and it sounded just enough different that I decided to take a look at the sample. The price was low enough not to be much of a loss if the book turned out to be a bomb, so I hit the Buy button.
As I suspected, some 90% or more of what I’ve read so far was familiar stuff. And the impressive length of the thing (over 400 pages) is due to the authors’ chatty style. I’m still only 83% of the way through, but there have been a few useful nuggets of information, with room for more before it’s finished.
Do I think this is a book worth buying? Yes, especially for writers who are still learning their way around the self-publishing world and need to be steered away from ideas that look good at first glance but will waste time and energy for very little return.
The book’s strengths lie in the writing and publishing experiences of its authors, and their insistence on common sense. Whatever approaches they recommend, they also point out that there’s no single approach that will work for everyone, and that Things Change. Because things do change, and are changing rapidly in the publishing world, you have to rely on strategy, which gives you a solid foundation from which to work, rather than tactics, which have to change as the publishing world changes.
The basic theme can be summed up with a quote from the chapter on what we can learn from traditional publishers (who do some things right, even if they’re slow to react sensibly to drastic change in the industry). “Most writers write what they feel, publish when they get to it, and spend whatever seems right. A publisher won’t budget for publication and promotion if it doesn’t expect a return, and you shouldn’t either. Your less-certain novels should be kept on tight leashes. Get a good cover, but nothing outrageous or extravagant. Don’t dump a bunch of money on advertising for a single novel with no sequel or funnel because you’re emotionally attached to its success.”
Lest anyone think this is just another marketing book, it isn’t. “Writing is both art and business, but they shouldn’t mix. It’s art then business — in order, non-overlapping. Your written product stops being about you, your needs, desires, and emotions as soon as the writing is finished.”
The authors also emphasize the need for long-term thinking. I get a kick out of the Kboards threads where people are agonizing over a drop in their Kindle ranking, and demanding to know why it happened and what they can do about it. Ranking is a day-to-day thing, influenced by forces that are not only out of your control, but by forces that may very well be invisible. Rankings are ephemeral. They have nothing to do with the long-range success of your books. The book doesn’t talk about rankings, but it does talk about other kinds of short-term thinking that can get in the way of the success that you’re looking for.
Go buy it.
NOTE: They do discuss rankings, briefly. I just hadn’t reached that section yet. And yes, they say pretty much the same thing I did.
Platt, Sean; Truant, Johnny B. Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success)