Monday, December 17, 2012
Indie Authors: Change or Die Pt 1
I have so much I want to say that I'm afraid I may ramble, so I apologize in advance.
When I was a young man living in The Bronx, New York, I had an apartment in a lovely two family house on a beautiful tree-lined street (Yes, trees in The Bronx. Who knew?). The house had a garage, but we never used it to park our cars. That's because the family who owned the house had filled the garage with--excuse the term--crap. We kept the snow shovels at the lip of the garage so we could find them when we needed to dig out the driveway. To find anything else stored in that garage could take hours and sometimes even days.
I remember one time looking for a box I had stored there (Yes, I stored some of my own crap in the garage as well), it took me nearly an hour to find it. The box couldn't have been more than a few feet from the front of the garage, and yet it took forever to find it because of all the clutter.
I'm sure many of you can relate as you have your own clutter in drawers or closets or even your garage. The thing about clutter is, it makes it difficult to find things--even important things that you're looking for. Unfortunately for the modern author, indie or otherwise, this is what has occurred with today's book marketplace. It's filled with clutter. If it was difficult to market your books last year, this year is even more difficult because of the clutter. Now the holiday season is upon us, the perfect time of year to market our books. BUT BEWARE. There are probably 100,000 more books in the market this year than last year. Perhaps your new novel is one of them. So how can you get noticed with all this clutter?
The first thing I want to tell you as an indie author is that people don't buy books--they buy authors. They lust after Stephen King's or James Patterson's latest. If J.K. Rowling published a napkin fans would buy it. Why? Because your fans, like your friends, want to hear more from you. It is important to cultivate fans--especially in a cluttered marketplace. And I know some of you are thinking "but I'm not Stephen King." Well, I'm not either, and I probably won't ever get close to being like him. Most of us won't. And that's okay. Anyone can cultivate fans. But you can't if you don't realize that that is what you should be doing. You have to think beyond your book or books. Think fans. I feel my fans are my friends and try to treat them as such. My fans aren't just people who buy my books, I care for them.
As I've said on many occasion, Goodreads and Twitter are an author's greatest marketing tools. And both of these awesome tools are free. BUT BEWARE, as the market changes, how we use these tools has changed as well. Less than a year ago I wrote in my very popular post on Impressions how I used Twitter to increase sales. Back then, 10 to 12 well placed tweets in a day would practically guarantee me a few sales. But that doesn't work today. It doesn't work because thousands upon thousands of authors are tweeting "buy my book." Both your tweets and mine are getting lost in the clutter or noise. When 1000 people are saying "buy my book," you might buy it. When 100,000 people are saying "buy my book," you wish they'd shut up... that is, unless they are your friend.
So while I think you should still tweet "buy my book," I believe the bulk of your tweets should have another purpose. That purpose is to make a connection with people. I like to help people. It's my personality to help, so I tweet information or advice for indie authors (like this post). I also have a sense of humor, so if I find something funny, I RT it. Eventually my personality begins to shine through in my tweets. At least I hope it does, because, remember, fans aren't just buying my books, they're buying me, and they can't buy me if they don't feel a connection with me. Your personality is your first defense against getting lost in the clutter. Decide who you are, and then blog and tweet through your personality, and pretty soon you'll have fans who'll want to know when your next book is coming out--fans who will be able to spot you through the clutter.
The writing's on the wall. Things are changing quickly in the indie book world, people, and we're either going to change with them, or get left in the dust.
More to come. Peace.