At the turn of a new year, everyone in the book world and their less-knowledgeable sister (that would be me) is making predictions and doling out advice about the coming year. Authors, publishers, and book distributors share their words of wisdom, and I try to consider each piece of advice seriously, test it against my own experience, and decide how to proceed.
They say: At the moment, the consensus for 2013 seems to be that competition in the bookselling world will be stiff as more writers publish independently and back-list titles start appearing in ebook format. The mad dash for ereaders seems to be over, and that means the free-for-all style ebook loading will dwindle too.
My experience says: Bookselling has seemed more difficult for the past six months, and a look at my spreadsheets confirms this fact. I have seen slower sales across the board, and the power of KDP freebies has also waned. More on that below.
They say: Stop wasting money on marketing and start writing more books.
My experience says: Okay, here is where we have to consider the sources. Smith and Konrath have been at this a long time. They may not be the biggest names on the planet, but they do have names, and they have more shelf space than I do already. They do have more draw just by virtue of the fact that they have been writing longer. They may be able to stop marketing, but can I, as a writer with fewer years under my belt?
Besides, it just sounds wrong. Selling will be harder so don’t market? Seems like that’s just what authors need to be doing.
Having said that, the advice to write more does make sense. The more titles you have, the more your sales of one book will bleed over to benefit your other titles. Readers who like your first offering will likely try the second, third, and so on. Coker calls it “passive discoverability,” which basically means you depend on “retailer-operated merchandising systems, search engines, reader reviews, and social media hyperlinks.” None of these guys recommend paying for ads.
After knocking this idea around a bit, I think they could be right. The marketing money I invested in 2012 did not see the same return as the previous year, and though I justify the expense as good exposure, that’s hardly concrete evidence that my money was well spent. I doubt I’ll be paying for much ad space in 2013 because of this.
However, I won’t be dropping of Facebook or Twitter or quitting this blog. I still see value in social media interaction. I will also continue to build an email list and return email I receive.
They say: Amazon is not going to be the power player it was in the past. Kobo, Apple, and BN are apparently poised to fight back against Amazon’s exclusivity clauses in KDP Select in a big way in 2013. (Please read Coker’s comments with the knowledge that while he is in business with Amazon, he is also their direct competitor. He lost a lot of writers when Select started, and it colors his opinions.)
My experience says: Yay! This is great news. Lots of people despaired over Amazon’s aggressive tactics with Select, but look at the results. Other companies are stepping up their games, which means our books will have the opportunity for more visibility in 2013. I plan to opt out of Select, which has been less successful in the past 6 months with regard to visibility and financial incentives.
To sum up: my main focus this year will be on writing, but I still intend to keep up my social media marketing. My own data supports many of these experts’ findings, and I’ll be adjusting my schedule and priorities accordingly.
What does your data show?