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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Value of Partnerships — syndicated post from @JCGAuthor


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The following is syndicated from Jonathan C. Gillespie's Blog and is posted here with permission.

I wrestled with the key term in this post, but the word “partnership” struck me as the most appropriate. Simply put, as a start-up independent publisher I have been reminded again and again the advantages of outsourcing some of the heavy lifting. So I’m going to encourage you to do the same thing, and explain why.

From a business standpoint, the term applied to the many competent folks I’m working with might be “contractor”, but I don’t view the relationships I’ve established in such detached terms. “Contractor” suggests that I will buy their services, get what I need, then go my merry way. That’s not the extent of my involvement. I want them to achieve success, too, and I want them to be as fired-up about my work as I am.

Let’s look at some of the honest advantages to farming out various book-management tasks.

A Separate Set of Eyes

Any writer knows the value of a good copy editor — and your work needs one before it goes live — but when you approach other folks for work such as promotions, or ebook formatting, you also have the chance to prod them for answers and advice on the particulars of your product, or what they’ve seen work (or fail) in the marketplace.

This sort of feedback is some of the most honest you can get. If your work does better with the readers, it raises their own profile as well. So your hired guns thus become motivated to give it to you straight, without couching their feedback for the sake of your feelings. This is not to say they have no tact — rather, you stand a better chance of getting the exact answer you need, directly and to the point, even on something as obscure as the legal disclaimer at the front a book.

Beachheads

In strategic terms, a beachhead refers to a toehold established (usually via amphibious landing) into the enemy’s territory, from which future operations might be launched. In independent publishing, you need all the beachheads you can get, only you’re not going into enemy territory — you’re hopefully maneuvering into a reader base.

So you need first inroads to the channels by which you might reach those readers. One way to establish a beachhead is to leverage the contacts that your partners are aware of and interact with. The first time I met with one such group, I was amazed at how far-reaching their associations went, and how influential those associates were.

So remember that in many cases you aren’t just buying the service, you’re buying who your partners can give you access to. This goes double when these folks are on a first name basis with such influential peers.

Buying Your Time Back

Many of the partners I work with only charge in the event they succeed at a given task. Whether this is making a book cover or pursuing a media outlet’s page space, they generally only bill when the task is complete, and both sides are satisfied.

Contrast this with the time you’d burn on inefficient efforts to do the same things yourself. If I were to take thirty hours trying to format a book (and that’s a generous estimate, because I’d need to find images, learn new software, etc), and the end result was still not ready — that’s time wasted. Instead, if a partner needs to revise something, I haven’t wasted any of my time. I simply provide feedback, which is about five minutes worth of my time, and they continue chasing the ball.

Obviously you can’t do this sort of thing twenty or thirty times per purchased task. But make no mistake: in addition to purchasing a service, you’re also buying your time back.

Do you want to be writing, or spending half the day on Twitter? Outlining a new book, or formatting an ebook? Crafting new characters, or trying to get a gradient just right on a book cover?

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the value of a good contracting partnership to your publication efforts. Though the costs might be a little intimidating, good professionals can save you time, and ultimately provide a solid return on your investment.

And that gives you more money to buy my books. I kid.

Stay tuned.



About Jonathan


Jonathan C. Gillespie has been writing genre fiction for over a decade. His stories have been published in a variety of outlets on three continents, including “The Drabblecast”, “Spinetingler Magazine”, and “Murky Depths”, and have been nominated for a number of awards.

This fall, he’ll be independently publishing the first part of The Tyrant Strategy — an epic military sci-fi thriller trilogy — for Kindle, Nook, and other formats — along with a short fiction collection.

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