Writings of Stuart Whitmore

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Traction, Tail, and Selling Books Wide

I think "traction" and "tail" are fundamentally different concepts. I see people using them interchangeably, but I believe that understanding the difference and using the terms consistently is important when trying to sell books on a variety of retailers (i.e., "wide"). Understanding the difference is important because not all retailer sites are equal and it's important to understand what can be expected on any given site.

So, what do these terms mean? The following is how I would define them. Feel free to leave a comment to disagree, suggest refinements, etc.

"Tail" can refer to a couple things. It can mean the long-term residual effect from a marketing tactic, and it can refer to long tail distributions. See "Long tail" on Wikipedia for an in-depth discussion of the latter. Although long tail distributions definitely matter to indie artists of all kinds, in indie book marketing most people will use "tail" to mean the former, i.e., the ongoing positive impact from a specific marketing tactic—maybe a BookBub feature, maybe a blog tour (does anyone do those anymore?), or whatever.

Traction refers to making lasting progress. Think of hiking up a steep or snowy slope. If you eventually slide back down, you didn't have traction. That's why I say that a tail is not traction. A marketing tactic (BookBub, etc.) might be the start of getting traction, but it might not, even if it has a good tail.

Read on to see why this matters when selling books "wide."

Making Strides in 2018

In my last blog post I talked about a renewed sense of determination to get things back on track after a very destructive year. So far, 2018 is off to a great start and things are looking up, although I certainly can't take anything for granted. It's early still, but if I can get things to continue snowballing in a good way instead of a bad way, this year should be a stark contrast to the last one! I've already released one new work (The Vengeance of Mirickar) and I have more on the way. Continue reading to find out more about what has been keeping me busy in recent weeks.

Determination, Coolidge, and My Publishing Career

It is finally the last day of 2017. And what is on my mind? Something my father had posted in his home office:

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Calvin Coolidge

I don't think I've ever been so focused on leaving a specific year behind, as opposed to looking forward to the new one, as I am this time. Of course the completion of another orbit around the sun doesn't magically change things any more than the completion of another rotation on the planet's axis, but symbolically this particular calendar change matters a lot to me. Continue reading to see how this all relates to the quote shown above.

This Path Looks Familiar... but Different

Patronage of the arts is nothing new. My use of Patreon is also not new, although I stopped using it at the end of last year. It had been a useful tool for me, and my patrons at the time provided invaluable encouragement and support. However, I did not feel that I was reaching new readers with it, and that is an important goal for me. The way I presented myself on Patreon was probably too scattered to capture the attention of new people. In addition to talking about my books and related works, I also posted about non-writing creativity, such as my photos on Morguefile.com and my audio files on freesound.org.

Late last month I decided that I would try Patreon again. This time I would approach it in a completely different manner. My profile would only be focused on writing. My page also would not be set up to use the monthly payment model like before; instead, I would have it set up so that I would need to actually produce content of value to be paid at all.

Hey Buddy, Got a Dime (Novel)?

As you might guess from the title of this blog post, I'm going to be talking about both money and books. I run a small business (two, in fact), and business people talk about money. However, some people aren't comfortable with "money talk in public," so if that includes you, then this blog post is probably one for you to skip.

There have been countless observations about money throughout the thousands of years that we humans have abstracted value into some form of currency. One observation is that the less you have of it, the more you think about it. This isn't just a matter of jealousy of those who have more. Many everyday needs such as food and shelter are typically met by spending money. If you don't have it, your options are very limited. When you can't afford those basic needs (and assuming you're not in a position to "live off the land"), thinking about money to pay for them is inevitable.

What does this have to do with books? Well, naturally, despite giving away some books like Wolf Block and (on some platforms) No Fanfare, I also have books that I sell. I would like to make book sales my primary income and one that covers at least a frugal cost of living, but I am very far away from that.


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