To begin, I need to come clean. This post was almost a bit self-congratulatory, with a dash of salty “subtweet”-type gloating. Hopefully that isn’t how this comes across. Because I sincerely am trying to be better, I instead want to express that I’m grateful my business decisions worked out.
For years I’ve listened to comments that I’m doing things wrong. I don’t published expensive, full-color hardback books. My work isn’t in stores. The company doesn’t have an official presence on social media. I don’t attend conventions, trade shows, or other such gatherings. All of those things are considered part of the traditional path to success in my publishing niche.
Instead, against the advice of nearly everyone, I made a conscious decision to not be in the physical product business. Print-on-demand, yes. Carrying the expense of maintaining a physical inventory, no. Spending the majority of the budget on original artwork that in on way enhanced the book, no. Dealing with rising printing costs, shipping rates, and other variable expenses, no. Borrowing money to have the best equipment, latest software, and additional staffing, no.
I was going to do everything as minimalist and lo-fi as possible.
A lot of people laughed at me. Some still do. Through all of the bullshit that is 2020, however, my sales are holding steady. This year marked some of the best months I’ve had in the 4+ years of doing this full time. My wild ideas, crazy theories, and offbeat business practices, were designed to weather just this sort of storm. They are now panning out.
I just learned that one of the people that mocked me is in dire financial trouble. His traditionally-run business will likely go under. None of which has to do with the pandemic. He took out a lot of business loans a while back. A couple of years ago one of his creators was hit with sexual abuse allegations. That hurt, and killed some books already in the pipeline. Last year he did not grind, releasing only one book, relying on back catalog to carry things along. Then 2020 hit.
This is not to slam that person. My choices absolutely had the potential to be the wrong ones. There have been rough months. I question whether I’d be better off on the road more frequently traveled. I am grateful that the panned out. They have helped me stay afloat and continue to grow through these dire times.