Saturday, March 7, 2020

Year 5 of an Indie Writer: Week 10 AKA Organic Growth and Contingency Plans

Scott D. Parker

I started the week thinking I'd write about one thing. I ended the week with a cautionary tale

Organic Growth

My son is a fan of a particular franchise. He makes videos about it, sharing them, and watching videos taken by other fans.

But he also takes a break from active fandom. For the latter part of each year through February, he doesn't devote much time to watch videos of other fans or much of anything. He sets a date for his new season to start, and he hit that mark this week.

On 1 March when he started up again, he marveled at how many more views his videos had received during his time away. He was really happy that viewership rose without him uploading new content. His subscriber list also grew.

"That's organic growth," I told him. "It's the kind of thing all creatives long for."

I asked him more questions about his videos. Turns out one seems to be a catalyst. It's an adjacent video, one not directly related to the franchise, but one that melds two franchises together. (I know I'm being vague, but he didn't want me to name drop him.)

His one, out-of-the-ordinary video actually got him more interested viewers. It also brought it viewers of that other franchise who watched, liked what they saw, and watch more of my son's videos.

In other words, his back list brought him more subscribers, more fans. Now, this year, as he makes newer videos, he'll be able to grow his fan base.

But I was struck by that one franchise-merging video. For him, that was the one of the key drivers to earn more viewers. I got to thinking how a writer might do something like that.

I'm still thinking, but the possibilities are exciting and nearly endless.

Oh, and I can't help but wonder if he's onto something in taking a break from a beloved franchise. His excitement built up until his new season started, making it all the more sweeter.

Contingency Plans

I'm thinking the vast majority of us writers--both traditionally published and independents--do not make our money solely from our writing. For those of us in this group, we have day jobs that serve as the primary means of our income, leaving the book business as a side hustle.

That's where I am. I love the book business, but for me, it's the second thing I do. By day, I have a job.

And, after this week, I still do.

Every company goes through a reorganization from time to time, and my company's doing it now. Well, just my team. I am incredibly blessed and fortunate to have maintained my position. I've been on the other side before and it ain't pretty. Most recently, in October 2017, was without a job. I thought I'd get tons of writing done with all the free time because, really, how much time could looking for a job take?

All of it. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Not only that, but it drains the mental energy, too.

Some of that dread seeped into my mind this week before I was told I would stay. It naturally got me to thinking about the side hustle. At the present time, it's not a lot of money. I get nearly all my joy in the writing of the tales. The icing on the cake is where others read them. But I really do enjoy readers who read and share my books.

I have lots of ideas about improving my discoverability, but up to now, I've not acted on them. After this week, and after the example of my son's franchise, maybe it's time to start.

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