I read an interesting post a week or so ago called Why The 21st Century Author Is An Internet Entrepreneur by Brian Clark, Editor-in-Chief of Entreproducer. The post discusses Amanda Hocking (among other things), and it made me think a lot about indie author marketing. How many of you think that when you set out to write and publish your book(s) that you’d spend more time marketing than you would writing? That’s tough to swallow, but it’s true…
Indie Author Marketing – What Sells?
I get irritated when I see books, videos and classes that hawk how one can sell tons of books. What these products usually neglect to say is that they’re talking about non-fiction books. Why is it easier to sell non-fiction? Because, in most cases, you have a built-in audience that you’re marketing to, people who want what you’re offering. It’s not that hard to build email lists and generate interest in what you’re selling.
Indie Author Marketing – What About Fiction?
Fiction is a much different animal. Who is your audience? How do you find out what they’re interested in? How do you get them to buy your book(s)? These are tough questions with no easy answers. Sure, you can say people like mysteries, or they like police procedurals, but it’s hard to get potential buyers to find your particular police procedural. If you want to sell books, and certainly if you want to sell a lot of books, it comes down to is this…
Indie Author Marketing – You Must Become An Internet Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.
Amanda Hocking, John Locke and others that have had great success in this new age of publishing have one thing in common – they treat their writing as a job, a business. Let me say that again, they treat their writing as a job. What Amanda Hocking did that was business-oriented (and from what I’ve read, John Locke did much of the same):
- researched into what types of books were selling well
- read many of those books to see what the audience wanted
- continually rejected by mainstream publishers, she went on to self-publish on Amazon
- she priced her books below the market
Now, as the article points out, Amanda Hocking was at the right place at the right time, with the right product. But she also controlled a lot of her success. How did she do this? By building an audience.
Indie Author Marketing – Building An Audience
One way that Amanda Hocking built an audience was to give away stories (or price them at 99 cents so they were almost free – John Locke did the same thing). Right now many authors are using KDP Select to give away books. But there are many ways of giving away something for free, in exchange for getting someone’s email (email marketing equals building an audience). You can give away short stories, flash fiction, or tips on writing and marketing. It doesn’t have to be a whole novel, and with KDP Select out there, flooding the market with free books, this approach doesn’t seem to be working very well anymore.
I don’t want to turn this post into a debate about KDP Select. The point is to understand indie author marketing and to think of yourself as a business owner. Business owners take all parts of their business very seriously, from how you present your products (cover design), to how well the product is (book editing), to marketing (social media, blogs, and more), to pricing within the industry, and understanding your competition and what works for them, and more. And all this is done in a very professional manner.
Indie Author Marketing – The Takeaway
Back to that statement I made above, about how much time you will spend marketing. I can hear many of you groaning. But it’s true. Look at how much time JA Konrath spent, visiting bookstores and generating interest in his books. It’s hard work to sell something. And yet so many authors are surprised when they find out that no one knows of your book unless you get the word out. Even if you are traditionally published, your publisher will do little to help you market your book (unless you are that rare, rare author who has a book that the publisher really believes will take off).
I absolutely love the final points that the article makes:
- If your goal is to write books and make a living from them, build your audience before you need it. Start now, not after your book(s) are published.
- Don’t think self-published. Think publisher. Better yet, digital media producer.
- Accelerate. Once the audience is on your side, books are only the beginning. Be more like Jay-Z than James Patterson.
But so many indie authors won’t want to market. Even now, we see authors relying on whatever model Amazon currently has, not thinking of other ways to market. But Amazon, or any other publisher, won’t make you money. As Brian Clark says:
Apple and Amazon don’t make money from caring about you. They’ll aggregate the hopes and dreams of millions along the long tail, letting just enough new stars shine to keep the dream alive.
At least the traditional publishers pretended to care.
Regardless, it’s up to you … now more than ever. Go make an audience happen.
I couldn’t have said it better.