Over the last several weeks, women have repeatedly shared their concerns about the current art market and their ability to make a living from their art. This week, I want to share some suggestions by arts professionals that may help.
The first response is from Karla Winterowd of Winterowd Fine Art in Santa Fe, NM. Karla is an unusual gallery owner. Her degree is actually in sculpture and she truly understands the artists, the collectors, and the business. She has represented my work for a number of years.
The second is a recent blog post by Jon F. Merz. I found his blog through a Google alert and really liked what he had to say. Surprisingly, though his advice is for authors, it is quite similar to Karla’s.
Artists often ask me what can be done proactively in a difficult economy. These times are a great moment to step back and look at what we all are doing. Get beyond business and ask hard questions. Where do you find joy, what makes your heart sing? If each of us is not following our joy, then what steps can we take to move toward that path? Many of the artists that I engage with are using this time to dive deeper into their creative process. Consider giving your art extra time to make certain what is being created as a true intention and an object of true beauty. If you are a painter, consider building more layers into the painting. If you are a sculptor consider focusing in with more attention to the details of your final creation. Art collectors can spot quality a mile away. It will keep them looking at your art. The longer a collector looks at your art the closer they come to acquiring something they will treasure.
Other action artists can take. Talk and engage with each other, find community. If you do not have a local artist group, then build an art critique group in your area. It all starts with small steps. Support other artists, attend art events, meet people and tell them/show them what amazing objects you create. Doors open when least expected. Open your heart to the possibilities that exsist and engage.
If you find that you have priced your art out of your market consider creating a new body of work. Something that is different from the art you currently create: a different medium, a different scale, or different imagery. Always make certain the art you create is something your resonate with, love creating and authentic to your expression.
Find a deeper joy in your art, and collectors will respond.
By Jon F. Merz
As I mentioned in a previous post, the summer usually means less activity in publishing. I’ve been hearing that the same slowdown in sales that occurred last summer for indie authors is also occurring this summer. I talked about my some of own sales tactics for combating this before, but there are other things indie authors can do during this sales slowdown that will yield better sales as things pick up again in the Fall. Think of this as your summer check-up before school starts again. (Anyone else remember those trips to the pediatrician before school started? My old doctor was named Dr. Toch and he was a brilliant albeit scary dude with a thick German accent who had volunteered to help treat injured soldiers in Vietnam. Great guy, but man, I used to dread the prospect of getting a shot from him, lol)
1. Fix your website: I started doing this last night. I’ve had some outdated pages on here for a while as well as pages with no content. I updated some of the pages (I still have more to do) and ditched the pages that didn’t have content. When I’m ready to write those pages, they’ll come back. But for now, I don’t want them being dead ends on my website. I also added a new photo on the index page, changed the sidebar on certain pages from an Amazon widget to a “Latest Releases” column with buy links to every platform. I need to rebuild my storefront here and get all of my ebooks listed out here so people who visit can find them all. Keeping content fresh on your website is vitally important. Even if it’s just a new blog post every couple of days. People who visit want to see that you’re active. If they stumble in and your last blog post was about MySpace or Friendster, then chances are you need to get into a schedule of posting more often.
2. Fix your spreadsheet: How is your sales tracker looking? I use an Excel spreadsheet to track my sales, figure out daily averages, predict monthly and yearly revenues, track which products are delivering the best results, etc. The problem is, as I’ve written more books, I’m running out of room. Instead of being easy-to-read, my spreadsheet is looking mighty crowded. So it’s time to redo it and get it back to being easy on the eyes. If yours is the same or becoming so, now would be a good time to make some changes, make sure your formulas are correct for calculating royalties, etc. Even small fixes can make a big difference – and remember: those pennies add up.
3. Fix your ebooks: It may have been a year or more since you last uploaded that ebook file to various sales platforms. During that time, you’ve hopefully written more ebooks. So here’s the question: every time you publish something new, have you gone back and updated your other ebook files – specifically the section where you list your other works? (Don’t worry, I’ve got to do the same thing…) Have you heard from readers that there might be a gremlin or two in the ebook file? Try to set aside time every day to fix or update at least one of your ebook files and then re-upload that to the various platforms where it sells.
4. Fix your schedule: How’s your productivity doing? Been a little sluggish lately, what with summer being here? If you’ve got kids or grandkids out of school for the summer, then your work schedule might be suffering a little bit. But it should suffer, frankly, because spending time with kids is never wasted time as far as I’m concerned. That said, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at your schedule and see how you can improve it for maximum effectiveness when the kids go back to school. Take some time to look at when you work best, when you exercise, when you market, and see if you’re maximizing your time effectively. If not, work on the schedule until it’s something you can commit to and set some goals for getting those new ebooks finished and on-sale.
5. Fix your perspective: Yep, it might be summer and your sales might be down. But that’s no reason to start thinking the end of the world is coming. And honestly, there’s far too much pessimism, cynicism, and outright disgruntled hatred in the world right now. The last thing you want is to add fuel to any of those fires. Instead of thinking negatively – which takes almost no energy or discipline to engage in – spread some positivity. Look for another indie author you respect and promote them on your website for a change. Introduce your fans to this other author’s work (provided your genres are at least somewhat similar). Volunteer some advice to a new indie author just starting out. Look at your own goals and focus on completing at least one new ebook before the end of the summer – remember, every time you put something new on-sale, it’s like you’re giving yourself a raise. It’s a pretty great industry to be in where you can get multiple raises every year! The point is this: ebooks are forever and they’re increasingly popular. New stats released yesterday showed that ebooks are commanding greater numbers than ever before. With more people shifting to ebooks every day, it’s likely more people will find your work – just keep writing and publishing! Not only does your craft improve with every new ebook you write, but more ebooks means more virtual shelf space for you and that’s always a good thing.
Summer is a great time to look at how your systems are doing for maximizing your production and income. I hope these five quick fixes give you some ideas on how you can improve your bottom line and your outlook at the same time.