This week’s guest post is from Albert Griesmayr of Scribando. I recently subscribed to the service to get the latest trends in book sales and the book publishing market. And, wow! It’s paving the way to help me sell more books and help my authors sell more of theirs. You should check it out!
Publishing was once a more-or-less fixed formula. Write a book. Edit and format it. Design a book cover, then put it all together and publish it. You didn’t even have to get involved with elaborate marketing much back then unless you were a major traditional publisher, and small independent publishers relied mostly on just getting their books to Amazon and Barnes and Noble circa 2009-2011 because that’s where most readers flocked to for books. The publishing market was known.
And here’s the novelty — you would make some sales. Readers back then would notice you or at least come across your title as they scrolled through the Amazon category of their choice. Admittedly, there wasn’t a huge amount of competing books on the market online before 2012. If you had a book about vampires, you were most likely one of only a handful of authors, and far from being a needle in a haystack. We all know this is not the case today. And the main culprit is pretty obvious.
The Big Kindle Boom
In May 2009, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing opened its doors to the world. Publishers from far and wide, small press owners, and self-published amateur writers from all walks of life rushed in to get their books out to the world in this new thing called “eBook format.” The Kindle boom had begun, and by 2011 the average Jo had become a self-pub connoisseur, familiar with conveniences like Kobo, Smashwords, BookBaby, and crowd-funding platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter). The process was clear and everyone was replicating it. Most of the self-publishing success stories, in fact, stem from that early KDP era (think Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey).
There was no major need for knowing SEO, sales funnels, lead generation or have intricate cover design skills because books were still quite visible back then. And then they weren’t.
Today, Amazon is just one big convoluted jungle of titles constantly competing against each other. Some manage to have a brief stint of bestseller status while others never reach that status at all. Some hardly even get noticed or make less than 20 sales in the book’s entire lifecycle! Very few authors and publishers are making it big today, but even they have to compete with chronically bestselling titles like Think and Grow Rich or Harry Potter.
And then you have the ones who are really making it and are able to substitute their income by selling books. They obviously know something about the publishing market the rest don’t, right? But what is it?
The Big Secret
I’ll be brief and honest here: the secret sauce to prolific book sales is knowing the publishing market — monitoring it, keeping up with trends, knowing what your target readers want and how to best expose it to them. It’s really that simple…and it isn’t.
Knowing the publishing market and keeping track of it requires time and effort (and we all know authors prefer focusing on their craft than figuring out what the next trend in their genre is). Because struggling due to a ridiculously over-congested market has to stop.
And it’s not that these secrets are reserved for those previously published who already have a following and substantial backlist. Complete beginners can benefit profoundly from knowing and monitoring the market. It’s a bandwagon that knows no discrimination and is worth hopping on as it continuously proves to lead to very little loss, multiple benefits, and the most inspiring success stories.
Benefits to Expect
As a writer or publisher, knowing what is fresh in the book market has multiple benefits, the most prominent being:
1) You know what your readers want.
If you’re ever torn between what book to write, what character to create, and which tropes to avoid, then knowing what your reader wants will give you all the answers. It’s like looking into the reader’s mind and knowing their innermost desires from the get-go. Then all you have to do is serve them that desire.
2) You know how to market according to the latest tools.
Watching trending news unveils opportunities and reveals tips on the latest marketing tools and best practices. What’s an author these days if not a business entity that understands sales and marketing?
3) You’ll reap favorable reviews.
A reader who picks up your book or reads the blurb will immediately be hooked if you speak directly to them and their needs. This will result in favorable comments, reviews, sharing, and search engine ranking.
4) You can even write TO the market
The write-to-market trend is an ongoing one because it is, simply put, a lucrative way to publish. Publishers hack the market, so to speak, by researching for keywords based on the latest trends, then publish a book precisely for that market which is already hungry. The search engines pick up this keyword trail and so do the readers who are ravenously searching for it.
5) All in all, you’ll sell more books!
Isn’t selling more books what every writer and publisher aspires to at the end of the day? If you can’t afford an elaborate advertising campaign, then knowing the market can substitute or greatly minimize that effort (and save you from spending thousands of dollars) by revealing only the most current, affordable, and rewarding marketing trends you can implement.
Lastly, when you monitor the market, you’re never late to the party. You’re actually one of the first few to show up and get that first bite of the cake while it’s still fresh. This is what it was like a decade ago. Authors and publishers showed up earlier and were thus the first to get in on the trends, tackling them when no one else was.
Albert Griesmayr, MBA, is founder & CEO of Scribando | Novelify. As a book marketing consultant for more than 100 publishers and authors, he has worked on projects resulting in more than 2 million copies combined sold worldwide.
Disclaimer: If you do subscribe to Scribando, I get a few dollars for the referral. BUT, I’m only referring you because I think it’s worth it!