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Commerce or art?

As I prepare Amiga to publish independently, I’ve been watching videos and reading articles to learn the best way to make a book marketable. At the same time, I’m crafting Amiga into a work I can be proud of. It’s my expression of the history of the computer industry and how I see the world today. How do I make Amiga marketable and creative? Is writing commerce or art?

Or can it be both?

As writers, we want our work to be read. We seek connection. We’d also like to make money so that our efforts have been worthwhile. We may fantasize about being the next John Green. But writing is a crowded field where we compete against millions of other writers — including John Green. We can be happy to build a fan base, get positive reviews, and break into the Amazon top 100.

To do that, we have to get people to pick up our book. We have to design an eye-catching cover. (My latest draft is above.) We have to write an attention-getting blurb, develop advertising and PR campaigns, plan the release, send out review copies, polish our branding, and all that other marketing stuff so our book has a chance of getting read.

But marketing is useless unless we write something worth reading. To do that, we have to write what we believe.

Most marketing experts say you should create a book to fit a genre. This is how books are sold. Readers go to the YA shelf or search for cozy mysteries. When they get there, your book better fit their expectations. It should have the right style of cover with the right fonts and the right characters and the right plot points. This leads to a lot of men with sculpted abs and an aversion to wearing shirts, and fedora-wearing teen girls with boys’ names who cope with a crisis through snark.

Amiga isn’t that kind of book. And I’m not that type of writer.

My challenge is how to write the book I want and encourage others to read it. If it doesn’t fit on some shelf or have all the popular keywords, I have to work harder to convince readers to look for it. Since its success is far from guaranteed, I can’t dump tens of thousands of dollars into the book knowing that it might not make a cent. But it has been done. Think of all the groundbreaking creative works in recent history. How many of them fit into the established genres of their time? I can’t say that Amiga is the next The Fault in Our Stars, but it’s better than saying, “If you like The Fault in Our Stars, you’ll love…”

One thing I have is time. I’m looking to publish Amiga next spring just before my presentation at the Muzeo in Anaheim in May. That gives me the opportunity to prepare my book so it is ready to share with you.

I also have my platforms. You can get my latest news by liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter.

More importantly, I have the belief that Amiga is a book you’ll want to read.

All of us as writers have a challenge. Writing is both commerce and art. We have to learn to succeed at one without sacrificing the other.


Also published on Medium.