Ben Baker is a prolific writer who has learned a few tricks throughout his career. He explains how authors can find and exploit their niche.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest published book is A Dog Named Nekkid. The title comes from one of the columns in the book. Imagine naming a dog Nekkid. Think of the fun. Put the dog outside. Company comes over. You get tired of them. “I gotta go outside and get Nekkid. Y’all wanna come?” So many variations on a theme.
That also marked my debut as a freehand cartoonist. I did editorial toons in college for the university newspaper, but drew those on a Macintosh. My daughter also drew some of the toons.
I have several others in the works: a science fiction/fantasy novel, memoirs, and a how-to book on dealing with an estate when you are the executor.
2. How have your sales been?
Poor. This is my fault. While I am good at sales and marketing, I do not enjoy it. Good? Yes. I have set new positive sales records for the places I worked in sales. I just do not like it. If I invested into the marketing, my sales would be excellent. I am somewhat like Nikola Tesla in that regard: lemme work and let someone else handle the business end.
This is why I love writing for brokerage sites. They handle the maths (maths is evil; the plural is correct), the marketing and the business. I write. I did have one client steal my stuff and leave a horrible review. I reported it with evidence of the theft and got paid. The client got banned. Dunno if the review is still up, nor do I care.
3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
Self-publishing is great for me. I am also a graphic artist. Each week I produce a newspaper and a few times a year I produce a slick magazine. Layout and design for books is something I can do in my sleep. I’ve done books for several other people who did not have the know-how to design and format. I’ve done so many, including ghost writing, that I wrote a contract to spell out what I will do and the prices.
Because I can do layout and design, I control every step of the process. I pick the font, size, page size, count and quality. I keep all the rights. I set the price. I keep all the profits. My only out-of-pocket expense is printing the books I buy to resell.
Self-publishing is not for everyone because so many people think they have a great book (they do not) and it will just fly off the print-on-demand press to be a bestseller (it won’t). The last report of the POD industry I read said the average POD book sells fewer than two copies.
Marketing is what sells books. If you can’t get your butt up, moving and selling books everywhere and every chance you get, including forcing some chances, you will not make money. Continue reading