Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pondering the World of Marketing

So you might have heard (if you care about this kind of thing) that an indie author named John Locke (no relation to the Lost character, or the founder of Liberalism, as far as I know) recently sold 1 million books on the Kindle.

Probably moments after it happened, he used this achievement as a chance to sell his readers a book on how he did it.

It’s a short book, sixty-some pages, and he’s charging $4.99 for it. Which is sort of hilarious, because part of his marketing schema is that he sells his novels, which are a lot longer than his marketing book, for 99 cents.

In the middle of the book, Locke lays out everything that he did to become wildly successful, and in looking it over, a lot of makes sense. I won’t post his list of ideas here, because if you really want to know, well, you should buy his book. Assuming that it works, it’s worth the five bucks.

However, I did want to talk about one interesting thing the guy brings up: The Niche Market.

In short, he basically says that you need to figure out what your market is, then write TO THAT MARKET. The point is that if someone likes one of your books, they will like all of your books, and they will BUY all of your books.

In other words, you don’t want to sell a million copies of one book to different people. You want to sell 20,000 copies of one book to different people, who will then buy your next 20 books.

He says that if you’ve already started writing, that’s all right. You just have to figure out what it is about your work that people like, and then push those strengths.

After that, it’s all about getting your name out there. If you get one fan you loves your work, they’ll buy all your stuff and then recommend you to friends.

So, okay, here you go:

My work is a combination of the best aspects of Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks. I also do well with Twilight moms.

If you enjoy those kinds of novels in some combination, I can almost guarantee you’ll love my work.

Now, comes the big question: How do I tell the world that?

I’m still working on that. But now to take his second bit of advice and tell you where to buy my stuff.



And now, time to go do some thinking.


  1. He's actually copying Amanda Hocking's road to success, however she got a $2 million contract with St. Martin's Press in addition to selling a ton of books. Her pricepoint is also .99 cents and she writes for a niche market. In January of this month alone she sold over 450,000 copies of her books. So I'd say they're both onto something.

    I'd like to add something else to the equation though; tell a compelling story. The story itself is still the MOST IMPORTANT aspect. If you do not have a great story, I don't care how you market it, it'll still sit collecting dust.

    *This is not a personal jab, I'm just adding my two cents to John Locke's advice. I think a lot of writers overlook this point.

  2. Well, for better or worse, Locke clearly has his fans, which must indicate that he’s a decent storyteller. (Good? Great? Who can say, really?)

    Locke actually lists “write a good book” at the top of his list of things to do (there’s a whole series of ‘em). Konrath does the same.

    The problem is, of course, that there are lots of people putting books on the Kindle/nook that aren’t very good. But I seriously doubt that the folks putting them up know their books are bad.

    Sadly, the whole thing is a Catch-22. Your friends and relatives will probably tell you that your book is good, even if it isn’t. So to get a get a true review, you have to tell a book to a paying customer and then get their feedback.

    The difference between Hocking and Locke is that Hocking hoped to make 200 bucks (I think that was the amount) and put her books up in hope of selling a few copies.

    Locke wanted to SELL. To the point where he claims to have figured out the secret to becoming a bestselling author on the Kindle.

    To clarify, Hocking became a bestseller on accident. Locke claims he did it on purpose, and that he can replicate it.

    Presuming he’s right (something I imagine most indie authors hope for) the first part of the plan is to choose your niche and find your audience. He had a very specific method of doing this – bring your audience to you. (He has an actual method which… like I said, I’m not going to reveal, as it seems rude.)

    The question is, now that I’ve got a stated niche: How do I get people to come to me?