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In the summer of 2016, I had a discussion with an editor of a publishing magazine, who we'll call Jane. As Jane and I were talking about my books, she asked, "So, who is your books' target audience?"
I replied, "Small business owners and dedicated indie authors."
Jane started to chuckle but stopped abruptly when she noticed my silence.
After clearing her throat she quickly said, "Please define the term 'dedicated indie author'."
"Well, believe it or not - some of us don't even consider seeking a traditional publisher. Many authors self-publish because they want to have complete control over the entire process."
Perhaps still wondering how embarrassing her laugh was on a scale of one to ten, Jane asked absentmindedly, "And, why is that?"
Somewhat surprised, I explained, "Working with a traditional publisher offers very little wiggle-room. They may not be prepared to give a niche book a longer start time. Also, they never want to make any changes. Once they publish a book it's published."
Jane pondered her answer. It was obvious that she tried to phrase it as careful as possible. "Traditional publishers try to publish a book only once it is the best it can be."
Learning from Woody Allen
"Certainly." I said, "But, having studied film and mass media I can tell you that for instance four-time Academy Award winner and more-times-than-we-count Academy Award nominee Woody Allen test screens all of his movies in a small town far from Hollywood and New York.
And, all of his actors have to sign a contract that they'll be available for re-shooting or shooting new scenes after the initial audience testing.
And, let's not even talk about the testing of commercials. Many of the commercials you see during the Superbowl have been chosen from three or more different versions."
Now I had given Jane some food for thought. "Hmm," she sort of agreed.
I continued. "Woody Allen and these marketing agencies produce successful products again and again because they insist on testing their products.
Also, software companies conduct public beta testing, routinely. Making changes to a product after it's been released is not unusual at all."
In fact, today, almost no product "stays the same" for more than one or two years;
Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana. – Bill GatesFun fact: Microsoft now calls their Windows 10 a "service that receives ongoing feature updates."
That concept should probably apply to books too.
Over the last few years I read many dozens of nonfiction books that are plainly outdated. For instance, books explaining marketing techniques on social media platforms become antiquated very quickly. That includes books from traditional publishers.
Being one of the mentioned dedicated indie authors I learned from this situation. Since Amazon changes their community guidelines regularly my book about getting reviews on Amazon has to change too.
Most recently, I also counseled an author of fiction books. The author confided in me that though readers liked his/her book series many did not like a new persona he/she introduced in the latest book.
Readers thought that this new character was "too mean."
I see this kind of reaction as similar to Windows users telling Microsoft that they were upset with Windows 8 not having the traditional start button. Sometimes, many consumers agree that they do not like certain elements of an overall great product.
"So, change it!" I said to the author."Edit the book and upload it again."
If you create open technology that people can use, adapt and play with, it builds capability and they teach themselves. – Charles Leadbeater
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Today's audiences enjoy communicating with authors who choose to listen.
There is no telling how far this trend will go but for sure indie authors (not traditional publishers) will be at the forefront of it all.
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© 2017 by Gisela Hausmann