RectorWriter

Adventures in storytelling by Bob Rector

ON THE LAUNCH PAD – ANYBODY GOT A MATCH?

19 Comments

ShuttleLaunchFBOkay my new book is upright on the launch pad and centered so that the scorch marks from my previous launches are barely visible. I’d like to think of it as a gigantic NASA rocket surrounded by a gantry hundreds of feet high with clouds of liquid oxygen swirling around it. Anticipation is high as the countdown begins. In the control room the “ignition” button is flashing green. All systems go. Soon there will be a deafening roar and the very earth will tremble and off into the stratosphere and mesosphere and outta-here it goes. Next stop: infinity and beyond.

How’s that for dramatic flair?

ModelRocketLaunchFB

In reality my book is more like a model rocket being launched from a couple of overturned cinder blocks in my backyard (look out birds!) and I’m kneeling beside it with a flaming match in my shaky hand trying to ignite the fuse, hoping that when it blasts off it goes up, up, and away and not sideways over the fence into my neighbor’s yard and generate a threatening call from his lawyer. Yeah, it’ll make an impressive roar when it takes off and it’ll shoot out red and white sparks that will make the kids in the neighborhood jump up and down and clap their hands. And after a few seconds of glory it will spit and sputter and fall ingloriously back to earth. But here’s the real kicker: you can’t shoot it off again.

Any of this sound familiar?

Author Claude Forthomme (click on image for info)

Author Claude Forthomme (click on image for info)

So I’m preparing to launch my latest book. It’s been proofed by people I trust. All the typos have been caught and corrected (I hope). My good friend and fellow author Claude Forthomme’s suggestions about changing the placement of several chapters have been implemented and the book is better because of it. Thank you Claude. All systems go, right? Well not quite. Haven’t got a cover design yet. Haven’t formatted it into any of the ebook formats. Haven’t written a synopsis yet. I do have a title but I’m keeping it secret until I really am ready to launch – that’s just how superstitious I am.

My dilemma is this: which launch pad do I want to blast off from?

I’ll be very candid and admit I’m only interested in blasting off. I’m pretty mercenary when it comes to my work; always have been. I’ve been creating content in the entertainment business for 45 years in film, TV, video, live shows and now books. Hundreds of projects over the years; I’ve got a storeroom full of the end results. The ones I have the fondest memories of are those that were the most successful. Egotistical? Probably. But the fact is that the most successful ones reached the greatest number of people. And isn’t that why we go to all this effort? Some say they do it for ego gratification or that they write because they have to. Fine, but I’ve got a wall full of ego gratification and yes I had to write too — or not get paid. Putting food in the bellies of my wife and kids and keeping a roof over their heads has always been my greatest motivation. To some this approach may seem crass and crude and maybe they’re right. Doesn’t change how I feel.

UnthinkLFTF-Combo

I’ve previously published two ebooks: Unthinkable Consequences and Letters From The Front. The latter effort was merely to make a play I wrote in 1991 accessible to those in the ebook market who have expressed an interest in reading it. Most plays are never published and are hard to come by. Unthinkable Consequences is a romantic suspense adventure that has received great reviews among readers and did moderately well in sales. I was new to this platform and I think I made just about every mistake a novice to self-publishing sales and promotion could make. I now question whether I want to go that route again and investigate more traditional methods instead.

I know most of you have faced this same dilemma. Many of you are authors whose work and opinions I respect. Perhaps you also have new books that you are pushing out onto the launch pad. How do you feel about it? I would love to hear your comments.

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Author: rectorwriter

Bob Rector has been a professional storyteller for forty years, but his background is primarily in film, video, and stage work as a writer and director. Bob was one of the pioneers of music videos, first for The Now Explosion and then for Music Connection, which were highly popular nationally syndicated shows that preceded MTV by ten years. He created over 100 films for the top musical artists of the times. Bob wrote and directed an outdoor-adventure feature film, Don't Change My World, and has won countless awards for nature and sports documentaries. His original three-act play, Letters From the Front, entertained America's troops around the world for fifteen years and was the first theatrical production to be performed at the Pentagon. This beloved show, written and directed by Rector, became known as the World's Most Decorated Play. After decades on the road (and in the air!) Bob finally settled down long enough to write his first novel, Unthinkable Consequences.

19 thoughts on “ON THE LAUNCH PAD – ANYBODY GOT A MATCH?

  1. Bob, I’ve got 5 books out there – all self-published. I know my writing is improving with each book and that the people who have read them like them. Now the trick is to snag more readers — that seems to be harder than the actual writing (and not nearly as much fun). Would I do it again? Yes. I love writing, And like you, I do want sales and some money coming in.

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  2. I’m with you, Darlene. But I’m greedy. I want a LOT of money coming in.

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  3. Bob, I haven’t learned the trick–or the proper marketing skills–for a successful launch. Seems that what works one time might not work another. Other authors more savvy than I would advise you to offer your eBook for FREE in a KCD while running ads on other sites–or try to get accepted at BookBub. Finding an audience for our work is the biggest challenge. Unfortunately, readers are so used to getting eBooks for free now, it’s usually all they download. I know this for a fact: My friends and family members have all confessed!

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  4. Excellent observation, Linda. This is the big dilemma with self-publishing that I can’t come to grips with. I’ve been in business for too many years and I know that when you give somebody something for nothing, that’s exactly what they think it’s worth. I’m a pro. I don’t give my work away. But too many others do and that has cheapened the perceived value of self-published books to zero.

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    • One reason to give an ebook free is because it is the first in a series in which you have more books out there to sell. I have one of those plus three free short stories that link to series and I think of them as ads. I include the first chapter of the book I am pushing and also the link to the KDP sale page for it.

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      • Thanks, Phoebe. I’m glad that works for you, but as I’ve pointed out I don’t have a book series or any interest in writing one so I don’t understand how that would work for me?

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  5. First of all, good luck with your new baby, Bob! I have sent a few dozen queries to agents when I first started but that was before I discovered the indie world and when I did I never looked back again. I am indie by choice because I love being my own boss, calling all the shots. You say you want the big money and that’s commendable. I’ll back up anyone with a big dream. I also dream big and I am proud to be a dreamer. But, I believe nowadays authors have a better chance at hitting the jackpot as indies rather than with getting a publishing deal. I like my chances doing what I do, working hard and I am being patient. I know a book can take 3 years to find its audience and a trad publisher wouldn’t have that patience with an author. But being their own boss, an author can give their books all the time they need to grow and find their feet. I personally re-edit my books about 2-3 times a year. I am a perfectionist and I won’t stop until I read every one of my published books from cover to cover and find it 100% typo and error free. What traditional publisher would give me this option? I’d have no control over their edit, let alone be able to eradicate all errors and format my books exactly as I want. As for giving the book away, it’s not a gift. It’s an investment. It’s an advertisement. No business can stand without those. I see no harm in giving my books away as a result and think that indie authors who refuse to promote their books at FREE or 99c have absolutely no chance for success. It’s not enough to write a good book. You have to get it out there by large numbers. There are successful writers who upload their books themselves on pirate sites! Did you know that? These people know a free book is only bait to catch the big fish. They think big, my friend! What’s a few thousand free copies when you can get way more copies sold as a result, even if it takes time (cos it does!) Check out the Amazon pages of indies who do promote and others who don’t, compare their books’ ratings on Amazon and draw your own conclusions. Whichever way you decide to go, I’m behind you. Good luck, my friend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Fros. I understand this thought process and I believe it could work (and obviously does for many) providing you write a continuing book series and devote an enormous amount of time and effort to promotion. I’m not interested in writing a series or even writing in the same genre, for that matter. I know that goes against conventional wisdom and I’m not criticizing those that do. But my biggest problem is that I have spent over 40 years in an industry that is very compartmentalized. My job was always to create content. Sales, promotion and distribution were left up to people who did that very well. If I spent my time doing that, I’d be taking time away from doing what I do best. This is a system I understand and have always thrived in. So maybe I’m just not cut out for the self-publishing world. I’m not admitting defeat, I’m just not interested. There’s a lot of things I don’t do well but that’s okay because there’s a lot of things I do very well. So I guess I’ll just have to concentrate on those. But please understand I have the utmost admiration for those who have made the self-publishing business – or any business – work, like yourself. But if it means giving my work away, that’s a non-starter for me. Hope you understand. Thank you for your support and friendship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bob, I don’t need to understand and you don’t need to explain. There are as many point of views on this as there are people 🙂 We are all unique, and you can’t make it in a field where you feel bad under your skin. Follow your instinct, and best of luck with your endeavors! Always your friend and supporter, Fros x

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  7. Best of luck Bob. I can see where you’re coming from and yes marketing can take up a huge chunk of time. We have been trad and self published and there are advantages to both. Love the freedom to put out a book whever we feel like it. No busy schedule but miss having a marketing dept behind you. Then again things are changing all the time and by the time you have done that synopsis and got that jacket designed it all might be clearer. Either way I’m sure the launch will be big success.

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  8. Thanks ladies. Sounds like you’ve got a system that works well for you. That’s what my blog was about, trying to start a discussion about what works best for everybody. Appreciate you’re input and wish you every success.

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  9. I don’t have the formula, and it gives me a headache thinking about it. Different genres are also a consideration. I know that blog tours haven’t been a great success for me. I’ve had some modest success with KDP Select free days (I know how you feel about that and I tend to agree but still participate, even though I can hear my husband grousing about it as I type) and residual sales. The biggest boost for me has been participating in box sets with other authors and using combined resources and continuing to publish. I wish you all the best, and look forward to feeling the heat from your blast off.

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  10. Thank you Patricia. That’s the kind of discussion I was hoping my post would generate. I think as indie authors we’re all perplexed over what’s the most effective way to get our books to the marketplace. I know I am. But I will get it out there. Just trying to decide what’s the best course for me.

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  11. Reblogged this on Claude Forthomme – Nougat's Blog and commented:
    So the cat is out of the bag, I did read an early draft of this book and I loved it! Can’t wait to see it published, I just know you’ll all love it as much as I did!

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  12. Thanks for the mention and I’m so happy I could be of some help – I think you book looks great now, a fantastic read and I reblogged your post. As to advice, you know how I feel about self-publishing – indeed, I’m so turned off that I even abandoned my pen name to the Internet winds, and (not too unsurprisingly) I’ve had no sales at all since I did. In compensation, my real name (Forthomme as opposed to Nougat) has come to the forefront and now nobody seems confused about who I am.

    And that leads me to 2 comments: (1) you have a well established brand name on Internet, the road to self-publishing is still open for you, so don’t close the door on it; (2) self-publishing does require marketing and periods of going free are an accepted method for indies (KDP makes it easy, 5 days every 90 days is a good proportion): it seems to be the best way for an indie to acquire new readers since methods used by established publishers are not available (like getting an article about your book in a mainstream newspaper like the NYT). I feel about “free” exactly the same way you do, but as an indie you have little choice. And of course, free works best for a series and your book is a stand alone – but you do have another novel and a play out, so getting new readers who like you might help draw them to those two as well.

    But there’s one BIG new thing that has happened that could really help you. Amazon has recently removed one of the great barriers that used to exist when you self-published Unthinkable Consequences – something that was then only opened to publishers, I’m speaking of course of the possibility of pre-ordering your book. That is something you should DEFINITELY do, it makes all the difference and increases the chances that you’ll have a successful launch.

    One last comment: since you still have to write the synopsis and assorted pitches for you book, once you’re done with that, why don’t you try querying a few agents and see how that goes?

    And to close: why not use your working title? I won’t divulge it here, but I do think it was a good title!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks Claude – great advice as usual. I haven’t given up on self publishing. It’s just that I’ve got two big projects on collision course and one of them has an opening date that can’t be delayed or missed. I’m talking about the play of course so for the time being it’s gobbling up every second of my time. I want to give my new novel the kind of nurturing it deserves to launch it properly but unfortunately it’s going to have to sit on the back burner awhile. If busy hands are happy hands mine are laughing uproariously and no complaints about that.

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  14. Haahahha. I’m not too bright today. Great post!

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