Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why study classic fiction? To improve your real-world results.

Well, that's obvious, you say - there must be common business practices they used in addition to native talent.

fiction bestsellers - photo credit huffington post
photocredit: Huffington Post (Getty)

The problem is that some worked alone - slaving away for years over their handwritten masterpiece - and others, like Dickens, were the star of their generation and actually made his "Great Expectations" shorter than he wanted because he had too much work to do in running the magazine which published his works.

But it could be done - could be figured out.

And what I've done to help you with this is to get going through a test of my own publishing system (as laid out in "Just Publish! Ebook Creation for Indie Authors") with 26 classic fiction works - judged to be best of the best by the popular lists on the subject.

The whole list is available at Midwest Journal Press.

When I got these all up as epub-ebooks, I realized that it might become an impossible challenge to complete. Because theoretically, giving anyone 2 weeks on average to complete a book should be enough - except that several (like Tolstoy's War and Peace) weigh in at well over 1500 pages.

As far as isolating business tactics, it's not just the long books which wound up as top sellers, there's Peter Pan, Call of the Wild, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which are much shorter. Looking closely, you'll see that two out of those last three owed their success to stage plays making them popular.

But you also have anomalies such as why Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles (her first Poirot mystery) is the sole of all her books which are on this list. Meanwhile, A. Conan Doyle has both his introduction to Sherlock Holmes (The Hound of the Baskervilles) and also a collection of short stories (The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes) which made the list.

While we are on multiple books, Dickens was the only other author to have 2 books on this list - while Jane Austen (wait for it...) has four.

Now out of the 100 books I started with, it's still only that there are just  the top 26 or so that became the first years' selections. I can still follow this up with something like 3 more years of classics if I really wanted. (Once I wrap up and catch my breath.)

Study Guides, paperbacks, and hardbacks.

There is more to come. Lulu gives me the option of publising in multiple formats. So once I have the copy and cover ready for the epub, it's a simple task to republish these anyway I choose. Creating a large-margin, spiral-bound study guide for each of these is a no-brainer. However, I can also readily create a trade paperback and hard cover which can port to Amazon simply - and boost sales otherwise. (I can also post the PDF up there for sale...)

Meanwhile, there is considerable work to do in getting all the promotion done on 26 separate books. Social media and all that.

Something most authors and few publishers would do. Because these are other people's works, and are all in the public domain.

What can be learned from this?

It's a great crucible for testing various programs to see how they can promote a long-dead author who still has on-going demand. There's SEO tricks to apply and test - all on a completely different scene where I've not invested any time or branding coins before.

All of this pays for itself in general. I've already had a sale on Kobo, which proves the model. Once they port through Lulu to iTunes and B&N, I'll have more proof of this. Getting my particular versions to rank inspite of not being on Amazon will be yet another test. (I'm just not willing at this point to spend the time inserting 10 images into every public domain book as yet another hoop to jump through on Amazon's site.)

A matter of Branding...

That's yet another study here. All of these are also connected by being part of the Midwest Journal Writers' Club as selections. So they can be found by anyone seriously wanting to look up the whole series as a study. (Although Kobo makes is a bit of work - Lulu makes it much easier.) They are all part of a brand I'm building from scratch for that Writer's Club. At least I'm following the mantra of keeping the initial product-offerings low cost...

And this is where the business savvy comes in. If you study life itself, you'll find all the secrets to building a successful business. Life is created in the microcosm by fiction writers, who play off one character against the next. All in a made-up crucible of events, even if modelled on historical "facts."

It hit me the other day that all life has to be marketed/promoted in order to have any real success.

So studying any and every production line you can find will generate substantial data to isolate what business principles made that success you are looking at.

Related Sites

Resources - - 10 Great Thinkers Who Carried a Moleskine · 100 DIY Gift Ideas for the Cash-Strapped College Kid · 100 Easy and Awesome Exercises You Can Do In Your Dorm · 101 Way to Conserve Water in College · 20 Fascinating TED Talks All About ...

Reading books online | Cheap shopping in the online store - Instantly expand your library with engaging leveled nonfiction and fiction books online from several children's book publishers.Hundreds of classic books you can read right now, online for free, all in convenient Page By Page ...

Most Children's Books Sold? – The Falcon's Fables - Thank you St. Eugen School Library for this blog post. In it the question is asked, which children's book author has sold more books than any other author? My guess was Dr. Seuss but I was wrong. Drum roll please…. STINE.

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