Minimum Viable Writer Delusions

The Minimum Viable Product for self-publishing

It’s a hard truth to swallow that only a fraction of your supporters will pay up when you have a book on sale or a Kickstarter project going. In direct mail, it’s common for only 1%, or even less than 1%, of recipients to respond to an offer.

In social media, it’s common for that number to be much, much smaller, sometimes orders of magnitude smaller. Neil Gaiman once tweeted one of my projects, which I was very grateful for and also very excited about given that at the time he had about 1.5 million followers on Twitter. I got a grand total of three extra supporters. That wasn’t Neil’s fault, and it wasn’t his followers’ fault, it was entirely my fault for having a project that wasn’t compelling enough, wasn’t attractive enough. But it was a tough lesson to learn that having a big reach wasn’t any guarantee of success. It was humbling.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Any post that mentions direct-mail response rates is worth reading.

1 Comment

Filed under Writer, Writing

One response to “Minimum Viable Writer Delusions

  1. ric Day

    In Asia in the 1980s we published business-to-business magazines and had sidelines in newsletters, newspapers, and business books. Those publications helped importers locate and work with suppliers in Asia. Our readers were in more than 160 countries and territories. We published in English, four other European languages, and simplified and traditional Chinese. We had no real competition.

    We mailed out close to one million very targeted direct mail solicitations each year. A 1% response was great; 3% was exceptional and exceptionally rare.

    Reznor has a “name” as a musician. Tom, Dick, and Harry do not have names as authors, so _any_ response to a Kickstarter campaign should be a very pleasant surprise.

    Reality: for would-be authors of fiction, once they get past immediate family, getting others to make a speculative payment for a future novel is going to be very tough. Moaning about “low responses” is not going to help.

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