Write to market. I don’t think any of us have stepped a toe in an author community without that phrase du jour blasted as the secret to success.
I define success a little differently than six-figures a year, by the way. To me, the secret of success is publishing profitably year after year. That’s a publishing company that’s staying in business long enough to grow into the levels of revenue we all dream of obtaining.
My name is Elizabeth Ann West, and I am a working author. I’ve sold my writing profitably since 2007, having the fortunate serendipity to be there in the heyday of many trends: SEO article writing, early KDP prior to Select, and even book marketing discounted books from 2012-2014.
In 2014, I tried to buy a new book in the Kindle store in my preferred genre, Jane Austen Fan Fiction, and there wasn’t a new book published in over three weeks. But I was in a personal crisis; I needed my Mr. Darcy fix! I had already zoomed through the books that are my trope preferences. And when there wasn’t anything new, and I tried re-reading old favorites but that still didn’t help.
I opened an old manuscript and wrote.
I wrote for myself the exact story that I, as a customer, wanted in the store. One that I went to the store to try to find and it wasn’t there.
Now, not every author gets to be their ideal customer; Reader Zero, I call it. But we make up imaginary people for a living . . . So I KNOW you can make up what’s called in marketing an avatar.
When you try to reach everyone, you reach no one. The exercise of a reader avatar is not designed to exclude people from your audience; there is no such thing as a book for everyone. But identifying a couple of reader avatars that come home from work and seek out your books for their relief from the daily grind gives you many benefits:
To come up with a reader avatar, you’re going to think about the person who picks up your book and is going to LOVE IT.
I’m repeating that because the first customer most indie publishers go after is what? The person who buys .99 books or utilizes a subscription service.
And there is nothing WRONG with that approach; I know many people who have made incredible careers with high volume, low price. But if that approach has NOT worked for you thus far, consider for a moment another model.
Have you tried to serve the kind of reader who is the customer who waits in line for the new iPhone before the store even opens? Why is that customer NOT waiting for a discount? Because they WANT the new iPhone, the price is irrelevant.
People shop for books looking for what they want to read first and THEN they look at the price.
How do I know? When I helped run TheCheapEbook, we would put a $0.99 discounted book right next to a blockbuster name new release at $9.99. We could see the click behavior in emails and affiliate clicks on the site that often the same person clicked on both books, even though the prices were present. Though they grabbed the $0.99 book because it was a value for the price drop, they bought the $9.99 book because they wanted it.
I wonder which book was read first?
This doesn’t mean that EVERY reader buys at both price points. But as a publisher, there is no rule that all of your books have to be the same price because they are the same length. You can meet readers at different price points where they are comfortable selecting a book to read with price diversity in your catalog. Run discounts, cycle books through a retail cycle.
And you can even reach one of those with a book cover inclusive ad and the other with a more lifestyle type creative . . . But that’s a new conversation entirely.
I would love to THANK Rachel Thompson for inviting me to participate in NaNProMo! I’ve known Rachel virtually, of course, for about seven years. I am always impressed with her dedication to her followers and readers.
As an additional thank you to everyone participating in #NaNoProMo, I am donating ONE All-Access Pass to the May/June classes on WhatAuthorsNeedtoKnow.com, valued at $335. You get every class, from Selling Directly on Gumroad to our class just on Finding Your Reader Profile.
But I haven’t forgotten others!
Everyone can use code:
for 25% off any class. Finally, and this is important, I started WhatAuthorsNeedtoKnow.com to teach from the trenches. I am an author first. So if anyone has a hardship and really wants to take a Foundation or Mid-Level class, just shoot me an email. We’ll make it happen. We’ve all had soft years, and it’s important to me that I support authors who are working hard but just haven’t broken through yet.
So THANK YOU AGAIN and start making up imaginary people! It will make publishing profitable that much easier![clickToTweet tweet=”#NaNoProMo Day 1: Who is the Reader You Save Every Night by guest @EAWwrites https://buff.ly/2FxkOrr via @BadRedheadMedia and @NaNoProMo #Readers #Writing #AmWriting #BookMarketing” quote=”#NaNoProMo Day 1: Who is the Reader You Save Every Night by guest @EAWwrites https://buff.ly/2FxkOrr via @BadRedheadMedia and @NaNoProMo #Readers #Writing #AmWriting #BookMarketing”]
Thank you Elizabeth Ann for your amazing post and generous offer (and kind words!). To enter to win the All-Access Pass (valued at $335), leave a comment below about this article.
Winners will be drawn randomly to make it fair to everyone and announced on Sunday, May 6th here on my blog!
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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