The reader is the sole source of all income in publishing.
Understand this concept and always use it as your guiding principle.
You’ll be able to make your way through even the most tumultuous changes in the industry by focusing on the reader-writer relationship as the guiding star for your business.
Keystone Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship that is the linchpin of an entire biome.
Bees are a good example. They collect nectar from flowers and, in the process, help pollinate the plants. Bees must fly around 55,000 miles to make one pound of honey; the bees become the matchmakers for plants.
This one symbiotic relationship that benefits both the insect and the plant also allows an ecosystem to build around it.
In the case of the bee, it goes beyond just a healthy ecosystem in our economy. In the US, the corn industry is dependent on the bee. Without the benefit of its cross-pollination, corn crops would not yield. It goes without saying that if a Keystone Mutualism fails, the entire biome can fail.
In the publishing world, the reader-writer relationship is the keystone of mutualism in that everything is built. If there are no books to read, then readers won’t pay. Without readers, writers cannot earn a living.
The reader is THE SOURCE OF REVENUE for the whole economy. Publishing companies and sales platforms couldn’t get a cut without readers buying books from writers.
I call this cut friction. These are the costs necessary for you to achieve your connection with the reader. Eliminating friction is our goal because the more it is reduced, the more value is shared between the writer and the reader.
There will likely always be friction as writers and readers need assistance connecting. When Amazon disrupted the publishing market with Kindle Digital Publishing, it responded to Trad publishers trying to maintain the old ecosystem and not sell books to Amazon. With access to the market via the ebook, indie publishers could meet the market demand of readers. The unmet need for a story was the biggest miss by publishing.
Now the tools and data exist for a writer to determine if they have an audience for their work and connect with that audience.
This symbiotic relationship is the keystone of the biome, but it differs because it is so hearty and diverse. Rather than dying off, “strains” are strong enough to move from biome to biome. We are experiencing this in that while traditional publishing and brick-and-mortar bookstores continue to try and adapt, the Writer reader organism has continued to grow. The market is broader today from a sales perspective than it was ten years ago. The economy serves more readers and supports more writers.
So, what does this mean for you?
As a writer, you need to form your colony. Your primary focus needs to be building a close relationship with readers who love reading what you write. The better you establish a direct sales relationship with a reader, the easier it will be to migrate with changes.
The fundamental mistake many writers make now is focusing on a platform or how other writers behave. Those are out of your control. What is in your power and your responsibility is how strong you build your bond with readers.
The reader-writer relationship isn’t about wide or exclusive with a platform. It is about diversifying your sources of revenue and having a solid relationship with your fans so that regardless of what happens in the future, you can communicate and, most importantly, transact with them.
While Amazon is the largest online marketplace in many countries, it is not in all. Also, in the scope of retail sales, it still holds a small market share in physical locations. It could grow more or go the way of dozens of other retailers.
We tend to forget how quickly and massively conditions can shift in the twenty-first century. Ten years ago, the Kindle didn’t exist. Indie publishing was a stigma and the underserved reader market. Today is different, and tomorrow will not be the same.
One thing I won’t be discussing in this book is finding an agent and the process of pitching traditional publishers. It goes against the first principle of the Reader Writer relationship.
In the beginning, you need to be as close as possible to your customers and execute effective tactics that will get you book sales. Pitching your book to publishers uses up time and money. After you have established your product and connected with an audience, there may be a reason for you to work with an imprint. All the work of self-publishing can be challenging for some authors, and they choose to forgo some of the profits to get the help of a publisher. Again it’s time to get real. If a publishing deal is essential to you, then the best way to attract one is to be successful as an indie. Not only will you have a better chance than the old pitch and rejection method, but you will also be able to negotiate a better deal because you have proved your success in your genre.
Look inside before looking out.
Amazon faces competition not from the Walmarts of the world but Google, Apple, and Facebook. They see the developing meta trends and the need to provide original content. Technology companies will look to build favorable biomes for the reader-writer relationship. We need to be prepared to adapt or die.
The reader is a synonym for listener, viewer,
How do you survive and thrive?
- Focus on the Reader-Writer Relationship.
- Work to move readers to customers
- Understand your colonies and how they are best nurtured. Not all of your relationships are the same.