In addition to my former career as a sales professional and my current job as Editor of The HUB, I am an author. At least I was up until September 10, when I reverted to being a sales professional once again. This time, my product is my book, my market is Amazon users, and I’m totally overwhelmed.
With this novel, my third, I decided to go the self-published route. Both of my previous novels followed the traditional agent and publisher process, with ever-increasing success in navigating that world. But the cost was huge in terms of time and effort and will. Time and effort are self-explanatory. Will, maybe not so much. To give you an instant understanding of that, I will state one absolutely accurate truth – I could wallpaper my home with submissions and rejections and not leave a single square inch uncovered.
So self-publishing sounded like the wave of the future. All I had to do was climb aboard the Amazon surfboard and before you know it, I’ll be in the pipeline to best-seller. Instead of hundreds of query letters and synopses and manuscripts, I would send out a single mobi file (the format for Kindles) and that would be my submission. Drive some early sales, and let the traditional publishers send me queries for a change.
OK, so it hasn’t exactly worked out like that, but I’m less than three weeks into the process and optimistic that it will. The thing is, there is no Amazon surfboard and perfect-wave pipeline. Instead, there is a rowboat with one oar and a really powerful current running in the wrong direction. And the subject of this article is why only one oar and how was I stupid enough to get into the receding tide.
One oar – you have to be very good at e-selling, and I’m still at the novice stage. I used the phrase e-selling because it isn’t exactly sales, and it isn’t quite marketing. More like marketing with an attitude. There are two prerequisites to success in this regime as far as I can tell, and both are about as easy as an advanced degree at an Ivy League school. Awareness and attraction. There are probably buzzwords for both of these, but I’m not looking them up.
Awareness means that your market has to know that you even exist. Attraction means they have to care.
This is where the current comes in. You’re navigating a commodity market with a product that demands differentiation.
I’m going to really narrow this down to demonstrate what I mean. There were over 300,000 new self-published books released in the past year. In my single category alone (Mystery, Thriller and Suspense) on Amazon, there are over 200,000 titles currently available, new and old. You want a marketing and sales challenge? Differentiate your commodity from 199,999 other ones, many selling at or below your price. And do it with a budget that is entirely contained in your personal checking account.
Social networking, everyone says. Just crank up your Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest accounts and watch the interest grow. I don’t know about you, but 9 out of 10 of my Twitter followers are trying to sell me something. I don’t see much of a market there.
I’m going to follow this up with some more articles describing my first-hand experiences trying to tackle this new world of e-selling on a budget that wouldn’t cover the bar tab in my previous sales experience. You could all save me the trouble by getting everyone you know to buy my book.