A lot of people right now are talking about their predictions for 2015. At the Kindleboards, well-selling self-publishers are talking about the year to come. Lindsay Buroker does the same in her blog, and planning for the future and selling on non-Amazon platforms was a big part of the Marketing SFF podcast that I just recorded with Lindsay Buroker, Joseph Lallo and Jeffrey Poole.
As we were talking about self-publising and marketing, something struck me about looking at the future in an author’s career: the most important thing you can do is to weatherproof your sales.
Weatherproofing your sales is:
- Taking control of your own audience
- Building an innate level of sales that does not rely on the vagaries of retail site algorithms
In the section of the podcast where Joseph asks his questions, he asks about the difference in marketing between romance and SFF. I think that traditional marketing has less effect on SFF audiences, because they tend to be more cynical. Almost every advertising site reports that SFF ads don’t do as well. The readers shop by author, and books don’t tend to go out of fashion as quickly. There is less author churn.
This makes that SFF is an excellent genre in which to weatherproof your sales. How?
- Well, since SFF buyers seem less “sale” or platform-driven, list your works on whatever sites will have you. The hip SF readers are often fervent Amazon-haters, and it helps if you’re cool enough to list your books on Google Play or whatever site the latest cool kids shop at.
- Since SFF buyers are more likely to shop by author, take control over your audience by making sure you have an up-to-date website, blog, that you are contactable on most social media, that you have a mailing list and that you are seen to be a “good egg”in the SFF community.
- On the subject of mailing lists, I cannot over-state their importance. I noticed this even back in 1996, when I used mailing lists to sell second-hand academic books. Of course back then, there was no Mailchimp and none such nonsense as “opt-in”. I did it everything by hand, but it was very successful. Mailing list = your audience. These are people who have chosen to hear about your new releases.
- Ad free selling! Do you get tired of the ad rollercoaster? You run an ad, sales are great for a bit and then a few days later, you’re back where you started. It’s exhausting. Ad free selling involves making book 1 of a series free or cheap. Then you grab a beer from the fridge and sit back. Don’t worry or get nervous about “sell-through”. Consider these freebies leaflets that you use to let people know about you.
What are my predictions for 2015?
- Things will be harder? Yup. They have always been getting harder, ever since publishing started.
- People will drop out? Yup. They always have. Many new, bright-eyed people will come in. Many will get disillusioned and leave. They’ve been doing that since the start of time.
- Businesses will fail? Yup. Dunno which ones yet, but I’m sure some will.
- Amazon will do something daft? Yup. They always have. Usually in the second half of the year.
OK, so the above is taking the Mickey. My point is that as self-publisher, you have to be flexible enough to weather the things that happen that kick you in the gut, and to take the opportunities offered by the things that don’t.
Only one thing I know: Ambassador 3 will be an awesome book. Because all I can do is produce the most awesome books that I can write, to publish them in a series and make the first one cheaper or free. That tactic has worked since the start of time, and no matter what daft things Amazon or anyone else will do, it will continue to work.