Publishing is the best video game ever!
“Is writing and self-publishing a book really analogous to playing a video game? I’m not convinced,” I said to myself. Myself answered.
When one begins a new game, at least the kind I like to play, one builds a character. Often this is one of the best parts. One gets to pick the characters race, gender, proficiencies, how they will behave in battle, and usually a few bonus goodies. It can eat up hours just deciding between a mage with their magic or a ranger with his bow.
Starting out a new book is much the same. One must decide all sorts of things about their characters. Once that is done, then the fun begins and one goes on an amazing adventure, just like in the games.
The early part of the game is much like writing a novel. It isn’t very tough, the decisions one makes aren’t so challenging. It is just about the fun. When one gets past the easy parts, the writing of the novel, or the first few quests, then the hard stuff begins.
Editing is the first boss one must slay. You can’t continue if you don’t. Oh, some will try, but they will be ill prepared for the trolls that lay in wait. They will be crushed.
Next comes the cover art. This, too, can be a challenge. Many hours are spent puzzling through different choices, but often it leads only to sorrow. Still, to continue to the next level, one must slay the cover demon.
Okay, so you’ve made it through the first two bosses, great, what’s next? You must find treasure. Initially, the best strategy is to focus on building readerships, which is similar to gathering resources in most games. The real treasures are well beyond one’s reach at this point.
This is where I’m at in the game. I’ve got a couple of books in my party, but finding the dragon horde will require many more warriors. I’ll need a couple of more Henrys, an Arthur to keep the party entertained, and possibly an evil serial killer that needs to be watched. I might also add some halflings to add depth to the party (the halflings are my childrens book. I really need to get back to work on book two of Secret Doors, but I digress)
Even when one has a full group of warriors, there are many challenges. The biggest riddle of the sphinx that I’m facing now is advertising. We found one route that works this week, but that won’t be enough to get us to our treasure.
Okay, I’ve beaten the analogy to death. You get it. The point is that there are many moving parts in publishing. One must continue to ask questions of everything. If you’ve run out of questions, you’re probably dead in the water.
It is the questions that act as guides through the unknown. For instance:
- What percentage of people who download a free book read it?
- Is a person who pays for a book more likely to read it, even if it is only 99 cents?
- How long is the tail after a promotion? By this, I mean, the goal of running a promotion is to move up the rankings and land on the various Amazon lists. Once there, an opportunity to be seen by readers outside the author’s scope of influence exists.
- Is there a way to increase the length of this tail?
- What do I do if I get a review on my print book and it doesn’t show up on the Kindle version?
This last one was a question I thought of today, as I had a very nice review show up for Time and Again, but it was on the print version. Not that having a review over there is a bad thing, but the reality of self-publishing is that the only sales that matter are the Kindle ones. I can push my books onto Kindle lists, but I’m not going to be able to do the same with print. I need my reviews to show up on Kindle.
It turns out the system is supposed to link the two, but sometimes doesn’t. If this happens, one can submit a request to Amazon through their help section of the KDP dashboard and they will get it sorted within 24-hours.
That is what we call a side quest, but the prize is important and one really can’t hope to slay the dragon without using all of one’s weapons.
Okay, I’m going to get back to the editing part of the game. Do you have any questions?