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Self Publishing Wins & Woes

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Posts: 38
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For anyone who is interested or has been self publishing for sometime.

Self publishing is fun but just as much work as writing the book itself. It requires basic marketing understanding towards the generation of sales interest. 

Having said this, I haven't made more than $100 in sales on my books in the seven years I've been self publishing. So, I guess I can't really offer any winning strategies. What I can offer is basic marketing knowledge, which may help with another author's self-publish success.

Please feel free to add to the topic with your own thoughts, experience and expertise on this area.

Posted : 08/12/2020 6:52 am
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Posts: 38
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Topic starter

Marketing Mix and the 4Ps

In my words.

Speaking in marketing terms there is a framework when designing and developing a consumer offer.  This framework sees a sales offering researched and completed in four areas for a physical/virtually physical product. Or seven areas for service products like insurance.

Books benefit from the 4Ps approach:

  • Product:
  • Place:
  • Price:
  • Promotion:

Under each are questions and aspects to research to determine the look, feel, cost and pitch of a product.

  • Product research is determining what customers in a given market are asking for.  Example is Webnovel Romances. To determine what stories might attract a high amount of reader interest, basic research on top ranking and trending reader interest on stories across various channels (e.g Webnovel, Wattpad, Inkitt, Tapas, TapRead...) in the genre could narrow down to a sub-genre and cliché premise. A story can then be devised to fit. It answers on the 'who will read my story and if it's one they want to read.'
  • Place is the distribution fit (hosting sites, PoD distributor, shopfronts..) This answer's on 'Where will readers go to buy my book?'
  • Price is obvious. But this requires researching across channel catalogs, competitor products and demographic statistics like employment rates within a specific age group, the types of jobs worked, typical outings...gathering averages and data to decipher the best price fit that will both entice a potential sale and be reasonable according to consumer price standards. Also has to factor in operation costs and fees from administration and distribution activities.
  • Promotion is what it is.  A means to push the book in front of potential buyers Like the other Ps it requires a lot of trend researching on the given demographics to find the best approach and strategy.

These work in unison with each other to form a good part of the marketing mix, which also looks at research on competitor strengths and opportunities, positioning and other factors researched on a PESTEL analysis.

More about the marketing mix can be read at the sites below:

  • mindtools.com 
  • whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Four-Ps
Posted : 08/12/2020 7:15 am
Chryiss reacted
Posts: 62

I don't think I am good at marketing. The only place where I can think of self-publishing my book is Amazon Kindle. Apart from that, I am pretty clueless. However, I will look into your suggestions and research further. Thanks for sharing.

Posted : 08/12/2020 3:59 pm
Veronica reacted
Posts: 2
Content Contributor Moderator

To add, although I have not yet tried Amazon KDP, I've read around and researched it along with self-publishing in general as preparation for when I eventually finish (revising) my book. So while I cannot personally attest to what it's like, I picked up a few interesting tidbits.

Jumping off of Veronica's informative but concise post about Product, Place, Price, Promotion...

I believe marketing to be the biggest challenge of the whole process. Yes, writing a book along with the editing, book design, and etcetera is a lot of work and time, without proper researched promotion and marketing plans, all that valuable effort can be easily put to waste. Of course, not every author writes and publishes in order to make money. Others, including myself, will publish a book even if it's literally just for themselves. Writing is like an art, so naturally whether that art becomes profitable, some people like to create and share it regardless.

But with the idea to actually make money, focusing on Amazon KDP for this, then proper preparation, determination, and realistic expectations are necessary.

Product: Ranking on Amazon categories is important as logically, the higher a book ranks, the more exposure, and typically the more sales you'll make. Sounds reasonable enough; most people would make that general deduction. With that said, because it's difficult to rank high and consistently, then active marketing is key to success. There will be exceptions, but unless you have a huge social media platform audience, you're up against everyone, self-published as well as traditionally published books. So you have to be clear about which market your story lies and the size of it along with competition. Niche is not always better, but popular doesn't always mean a lot of traffic and searches.

Price: I've seen this statistic on multiple self-publishers now. While you want to strike the right balance of price and value --- in other words, the best price which doesn't over or undersells yourself --- typically books on the lower end of the spectrum make more sales and overall more money. The cited number I frequently see is around $3.99 USD. Of course, with print books, this isn't exactly achievable, so yes, this is an e-book price. But again, we're focusing on Amazon KDP.

Place: The bigger the distribution doesn't always mean better. You could distribute globally, but you might not get any sales outside of the U.S. if you are sourced and or live in the country. The opposite can also be true. Additionally, if you are using more than one publisher and or distributor, you have to make sure not to double pay any fees. Apparently, Amazon has some option where you can toggle this according to ISBN or something.

Promotion: To wrap everything up above together when considering marketing, you have to consider your different avenues of marketing. Most likely, author and book meets, literary reviews, and the such will not be viable for a hypothetical new and unknown author. Thus, online strategies are key. Amazon KDP has keyword ad marketing, but again, to use this effectively, you have to consider which keywords are most relevant and will get people to click and then buy your book. As this has gotten more competitive over the years, lower price points for keywords will likely not get you very far as others are bidding higher, typically around $1.50 or more for each keyword. Other marketing strategies include something similar with social media, like Facebook ads, or anything SEM-like. You might have to test out various places to see what works.

In conclusion, you may have to try a variety of 4P combinations to see what best works for you and your book. There is no one and done formula, and the process is not easy publish and immediate success. It simply doesn't work like that. Self-publishing gives a lot of freedom in comparison to traditional, but with it, comes a lot of responsibility and work as authors actually become more like publishers in a sense. Almost anyone can write a "good" story, but whether they can publish and sell it successfully is rare. So with determination paired with knowledge, I wish all aspiring writers good luck and keep doing what you love! 😊 

Posted : 12/12/2020 9:48 am
Veronica reacted
Posts: 195

This is a lot of solid info! I'm considering self publishing in the future and this is of great help!

Posted : 14/12/2020 4:58 pm
Veronica reacted
Posts: 122

Jeeze, thanks for this info. Its is quite on point. We often assume that since we ahve written a nice piece, it will automatically be bought because it is well, "nice". But that is not the case, it requires getting your marketing genius up and running in order to realize returns. I guess promotion is my weakness. But seems i have no choice! 

Posted : 09/01/2021 1:37 pm
Veronica reacted
Posts: 28

I haven't tried self publishing yet but I have some sales experience in another field so, I will try to utilise it and see if I can make some money with publishing. I am pretty sure it will be hard to get success anytime soon but there is no harm in trying.

Posted : 02/02/2021 12:20 pm
Veronica reacted
Posts: 38
Content Contributor Moderator
Topic starter

@i-write No harm in trying it. Use every advantage that you have up your sleeve. Since there are places like Draft2Digital don't charge upfront costs, self-publishing can also be a low to zero risk endeavor cost wise.  Most of the effort is your time and materials.

Posted : 05/02/2021 11:44 pm
Posts: 156

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Posted : 09/04/2021 3:42 pm
Veronica reacted
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