Posted by on Jun 4, 2018 in 2018 | 0 comments

Plenty of wind for all the sails!

Plenty of wind for all the sails!

A common discussion point in the project management world is the scalability of a process or operations or technology. For example, if you’re installing an email system for a company with twenty employees, will the system be sufficiently scalable to handle the email volumes when the company has two hundred employees?

Scalability is also an important consideration when you are designing your work—your craft—and your author career—your voyage—since some topics and approaches are more scalable than others. If you write a fantasy novel set in a world you create, that topic is almost infinitely scalable. Consider Harry Potter—the astronomical popularity of that series indicates that it is scalable to any age group, any gender, any country, any culture. At the other end of the spectrum, consider a non-fiction book based on a event that took place in a small town a few decades ago. That book might primarily appeal to people living near that town, and even more specifically to people who were alive when the event took place.

What does this have to do with the design of your craft and your voyage? If you want to design your author voyage to enable you to make a living with your writing, then a fantasy book is going to be a better bet that the local history book because the potential reader base is much larger.

The scalability of your book will also suggest different methods of getting it in front of readers. You could make the fantasy book available on pretty much any outlet and, assuming it’s well constructed, it will find an audience. For the local history book, a book fair held in the town where the event took place is the perfect venue, but a book fair a hundred miles away will generate fewer sales. Keep in mind that, if you are looking to other authors for advice, you should assess whether the approaches they’re following and recommending match the level of scalability of your own desired design. If they’re selling locally based non-fiction, it’s not the best path to follow for fantasy.

The issue of scalability can also impact how you approach your relationship to your fellow authors. In my upcoming book The Craft & The Voyage of The Indy Author, I make an argument that the indy author should approach that relationship on the basis of it being a world of plenty, not a zero sum game. If your book is sufficiently scalable, then a book sale lost to the author at the next table at a book fair is far less important that the potential benefits you can get from cultivating a relationship with that author. However, that position is easier to take when that book fair sale is just one part of a more scalable business model, and harder to take if the majority of your author earnings are based on book fair sales.

I’m not pointing this out to suggest that you to discard your non-fiction local history book and switch to fantasy—I’m pointing it out because you will need to factor this consideration into the design of your craft and your voyage.