Monday, December 8, 2014

Hachette, Twitter and You

This morning I read in Publishers Weekly that Hachette, the big 5 publisher, was going to start using Twitter to promote their books. Wondering if this was part of the fallout of the much talked about Hachette vs Amazon battle waged mostly in the media, I anxiously read the article.  After all, many of us use Twitter to promote our books.  I wanted to know what Hachette was going to do that I wasn't doing.  In the article, Hachette announced they were going to partner with Gumroad on an e-commerce venture. Who the heck is Gumroad?

I spent a chunk of the morning doing some research, searching for some sage words on who Gumroad was and why Gumroad was a platform we indie authors should be using.  What I discovered was a very informative article on Gumroad's blog by developer Nathan Barry.  In the piece, Barry touted that he'd sold over $355,759 in books using Gumroad.  You know that got my attention.  Click HERE to read the entire piece, but stay with me for a few minutes before you do.

Barry threw me for a loop when he said he didn't use Amazon to sell his books.  Here's what he said:

Before writing books I made all my product revenue from selling iPhone apps on the App Store. Each day I would look at the previous days sales numbers. Unfortunately that’s all they were: numbers. I would be informed “You sold x copies of this app in these countries.” That’s it.
Without customer information I had no way of contacting any of my users. That meant notification about updates, asking for feedback, and any other contact had to be done through custom code through the app—something I hadn’t taken the time to build.
That’s when it really hit me: the people who bought my app weren’t my customers, they were Apple’s. Apple was just giving me a little bit of money from each purchase, but not the customer.
I often get asked why I, as a full-time author, don’t sell my books on Amazon or the iBooks store. The biggest reason is the lack of customer information. I want to sell directly to my customers so that I can email them to ask how they like it, know who is buying it and where, and be able to build on that relationship to make my next book launch more successful than the last.

Interesting, huh? Over this past year it has become more and more obvious to me that my email list is going to be my greatest selling tool.  It isn't yet.  I'm working on it.  If you're an author, this blog post is yet another reason for you to continue to not only build, but cultivate the readers your email list.  There was a time when I held contests just to get names onto my list.  I don't do that anymore.  The names on my list are harder to come by now because they are mostly readers I have sought out because they have read and enjoyed one or more of my books.  I want to have a relationship with these people. These readers are already fans, and if I do things right, most of them will stay with me and become lifelong fans.

As authors we often feel this is our journey.  We feel it's a solitary journey, but we're wrong in feeling that way. It's a shared journey between us and our readers, but it's shared only if we open up to them.

That's it from me for today.  Food for thought. Read Nathan Barry's blog post, decide if Gumroad is for you, and think of ways to organically grow your email list.

Keep Reading--Keep Writing!


  1. Your email list is definitely one of your best assets. You might find this worth checking out by Joanna Penn

  2. Thanks for your comment. I've seen this blog post before, but now it resonates with me even more. Thanks for sharing.