I’m never the last to know about a trend. I usually catch on at about the half to two-thirds mark – early enough to still glean some benefit, but too late to really take full advantage of it. This was never more apparent than yesterday.
Tuesday afternoon, I attended a webinar on marketing automation given by the 10K Customers guy. Nice enough fellow. Eye-opening info. But he mentioned a tool I’d never heard of, so I thought I’d give it a look. It’s called KDSpy and sells for $47 bucks. It basically gives you intel on keywords, competitive sales, ranks, etc., all at the push of a button. Holy smokes. Instead of trying to dream up creative and original plots in genres I deeply care about, I could’ve just clicked around and come up with a best-selling formula instead.
Here’s the worst part: I’m only half kidding.
People LOVE my Cattarina Mysteries. Love them. I’ve gotten emails from customers telling me they hope I’m not serious about ending the series. But the books don’t have the visibility I want, despite glowing reviews and great feedback. After a cursory glance at the top selling cozy mysteries, I know now I shouldn’t have written anything historical or creepy or anything from the perspective of a cat or anything involving a famous horror author. I should’ve written something contemporary and cute involving ghosts and possibly witches and definitely a mysterious romance. Except I wouldn’t change a thing about Cattarina. Not a thing. She is who she is, and her stories needed to be told. I don’t regret writing them. And yet…
At the beginning, I’m sure only the shady public domain book people and the 101 Jokes About Yo Mamma people used tools like KDSpy. The something-for-nothing authors. Now, however, even I’m thinking about buying the software just to gain a competitive edge. To quote Cattarina, “Egad!”
And then, I read about title creators on The Book Designer blog and tried out portent.com. All I can say now is, I know where all those link bait people get their headlines from. You know the ones: 7 Dangerous Foods to Avoid! Why Your Nanny May Be Stealing From You! The Sky is Falling! Anyway, in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to run this post through the title generator and voila! Now you know why this post HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH PUBLISHING FORECASTS. Except if you’re reading this, that means you “cared enough to click.”
Which only makes me worry.
Have we gotten so concerned about the science of publishing that we’ve forgotten about the art of writing? Is it all a game, with prizes awarded to those with the cleverest keywords and not the cleverest turns of phrase?
I think there is a balance to be struck. More and more, though, I’m leaning toward putting the science of publishing first, at least in the inception stages of a book. I think it’s taken me so long to come to this because I started writing before self-publishing was a “thing.” In order to get published, you had to write well. Well enough to get a publisher or an agent to notice you. And I did. But then the paradigm shifted. Now it’s about capturing as many eyeballs as possible, and thinking this can be achieved through quality writing alone is naive at best, especially when other GOOD writers are employing every trick in the book, too.
I suppose this was inevitable, wasn’t it? When you turn writers into publishers, perspective–and behavior–definitely shifts.
Your turn, dear reader. Are click-bate headlines the next big thing in titling books? Do you commonly use tools like KDSpy to create your next masterpiece? Do you handle keywords like a boss? Or are you wondering about the fine line between art and science, like me? I’d love to talk!