Friday, November 26, 2010

David Schlosser, Part 2

Continuing my interview with David Schlosser. We were just starting to discuss marketing.

My books are going to be released as e-books. How does e-book marketing differ from print, or p-book, marketing? There are many choices on the Internet (reviewers, blogs, groups). How does one choose which ones to be involved with to make the most out of marketing? Where does one start?

I don’t think there’s a colossal difference in the ways you reach readers of e-books versus p-books. You need to be aware that e-book readers will tend to be more tech-savvy – which means generally younger and wealthier – than the reading population as a whole, but I think that readers are readers. Virtually all readers have access to a computer or cell phone, or both, and that’s really all you need to read an e-book. Kindle and Nook are nice platforms, but the software for reading e-books is free and available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux PCs as well as most major cell phone and tablet operating systems.

My exception to that rule is that e-books are more price-sensitive than p-books. I also have a technical clarification to that rule – what I really mean is, you can sell an e-book for very little money and not really lose any money, whereas there is a certain price below which you can’t sell a p-book without losing money. If you’re interested in volume, pricing an e-book at 49 or 99 cents will – generally speaking – allow you to move a lot of product. You won’t earn as much per book, but the math is pretty simple: a $10 book that sells 100 copies is the same as a $1 book that sells 1,000 copies.

For e- and p-books, the best place to start marketing is early: write a great book. (A corollary for self-publishers: make sure the editing, layout, and design is as good as what you’d get through a traditional publishing deal – you’ll have to pay for it, but your failure to do so will doom your sales prospects.) A great book is the surest, quickest way to get people buying, reading, and talking about your book. All the advertising in the world won’t sell a bad book – or, at least, won’t sell many copies of it.

Lots of writers will scoff at that idea, and point at a well-advertised best-selling book they consider lousy. Some of that is simply the beholder’s concept of beauty, but most of it has to do with two things:

- First, story. A great story will outweigh weak prose virtually every time.

- Second, brand equity in an author’s (or, sometimes, a character’s) name. It’s hard to believe that one of the best-selling mystery authors of all time is Jessica Fletcher (a television character), but less difficult to believe that James Bond and Sherlock Holmes continue to sell books, even if the prose is weak.

After that, apply the 80/20 rule and elbow grease in equal amounts. The 80/20 rule says you’ll get 80% of your sales from 20% of your coverage (scoring an interview with the biggest blogger, securing a review with the most popular opinion-maker), so you better put 80% of your effort into getting that interview or that review. Save 20% of your hard work to spread across the 80% of the outlets that are going to drive only 20% of your sales.

If you have trouble deciding which outlets are the right ones to focus on, ask readers in your genre about the sources on which they rely for advice about what to read next. Or, search Bing, Google, or Yahoo! – those search results will come back with the most heavily trafficked sites first.

What are some of the DONT'S of marketing?

Glengarry Glen Ross popularized the concept of ABC – Always Be Closing. That’s the biggest DON’T of marketing, especially in the Internet age.

If you’re constantly asking people to buy your book – particularly via weak-tie media like Facebook and Twitter – people will very quickly tune you out and eventually turn you off.

Instead, strive to add value to people’s lives in the form of good advice, inspirational thoughts, humor, and pithy wisdom. If you’re adding value to your relationship with them, they’ll reciprocate by telling people about you – and, by extension, your book.

Marketing can be a tedious effort. Any tips for making it easier or less stressful?


It’s hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Your best bet for reducing the stress of selling your book (which, let’s be honest and admit, is really selling yourself) is to be an extravert brimming with self-confidence.

Since that describes about 2.64% of writers, your next-best bet is to focus on bringing your audience what your audience wants (that is, adding value to their lives).

They want great stories populated by interesting, dynamic characters. If you’ve written a book that meets their craving for terrific books, you should feel wonderful about telling readers why they’ll love your book.

Note that I did not say you should feel wonderful about telling readers to buy your book.

Maintain your focus on what your readers want, and what you want will follow naturally. If your focus is on what you want, your readers have plenty of other opportunities to find what they want with an author who cares about giving it to them.

Check in next week for the final part of the the interview.

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