Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Should writers depend upon the Christmas shopping season?

As I write this, the entire retail world of the United States, or a good percent of it, is preparing for the Christmas shopping season. The biggest retail shopping days of the year, such as Black Friday, are rapidly approaching. Retailers often depend upon the Christmas shopping season to survive--the bulk of their business is done during Christmas; and the rest of the year, they are lucky to make enourgh to keep the lights on.

And this goes beyond the retail stores. The last restaurant chain I worked for, Renzios (a Greek shopping mall type restaurant), did excellent sales during the Christmas season (captive audience situation)--yet also managed to stay in the black for the rest of the year.

Yet that was not true of all of their locations. For instance, the location that I worked for. My slowest time of the year was the Christmas season. I used to send my employees to other locations (one, so that they could get extra hours; two, to save on my labor costs). There was exception originally, and that was the two nights of the Parade of Lights--but when the Pavilions on 16th Street Mall was built, that all changed and the Parade of Lights became two of my slowest days.

So all this is in the back of my mind as I shift to my new profession--writing ebooks and e-articles--and face my first full Christmas season as a writer.

Should I place a lot of weight on the Christmas season?

My immediate gut reaction is "no."

My logic being that: One, I do not control anything beyond my own keyboard; and Two, if I am not ready for Christmas already--well, it is too late.

Now, this is not saying that there is no possibility of getting some extra sales this holiday season. But honestly, how many people buy other people ebooks for the holidays? I have yet to see solid numbers to answer that question.

As a writer, my business model is a year-round business. Any extra sales I make during Christmas have to be divided and budgeted to support the rest of the year. My Christmas season campaign is actually a writing campaign for a couple of books that will not be released until next year (if ever--there is always a chance that they will turn out to be pure trash and never released).

When you work on projects that require months to complete...the excitement of Christmas sprees take a backseat. Even a simple article can be in the pipeline for months, if not years. (Honest truth, I once got paid two years after submission for a $25 dollar article.) My tasks as a writer are to slowly build up my stock of books and articles, and my readership (audience), over the course of years. A seasonal event like the Christmas shopping season is just a speed bump at best, a distraction at worst.

It would be nice to get a bump in ebook sales if it happens, but I am not banking on it. And I do not think that any writer should.

[And realistically, I still do not have that much stock up--and what I do have up is short stories. I have yet to get a finished novel up. And so it goes.]

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