From author Robert Bidinotto:
It has been a mantra in self-publishing circles that an author’s most reliable pathway to long-term financial success is to rapidly write and publish more and more books. This strategy is supposed to increase your exposure and name recognition, and therefore the “discoverability” of your books to buyers who browse retail websites like Amazon.
This quantitative strategy seems perfectly sensible, too. The key to strong sales is to make your work visible, or “discoverable,” to your target audience of readers. So, how could your cumulative sales over time not increase if you issue an ever-expanding number of titles for readers to find and buy?
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Discouraged by this trend, Dennis asked if fellow authors also were experiencing declining sales over time, despite publishing more books. A lot of other writers then chimed in to confirm the trend. Clearly rattled, the discussion participants have since been bemoaning — and trying to explain — the apparent failure of this, one self-publishing’s main articles of faith. After all, how could you not sell more copies if you publish more titles?
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Now, all other things being equal, it’s probably true that more titles = more visibility —> more sales. But I don’t think all other things are equal. Focusing mainly on quantity, no writer, no matter how prolific, can possibly crank out books fast enough to keep up with the thousands of new titles being published each week. The sea of available titles is now enormous, and ever-expanding. In that vast sea, how are yourkind of customers going to discover your titles?
Marketing experts have wrestled with that problem for decades. I learned a lot about how to achieve visibility in a glutted marketplace by reading the books by marketing gurus Jack Trout and Al Ries — especially their little classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Its subtitle is How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace — and that, of course, is exactly what authors need to know.
Though not written specifically for writers, the book offers us many great lessons and insights, and I don’t want to take up space here repeating them. But its overriding principle of “positioning” is about how to distinguish yourself and/or your product so that it stands out from the pack and achieves a unique, memorable “position” in your target customer’s mind.
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Yes, the key to commercial success is achieving visibility to your target audience; but the pathway to visibility is not necessarily the quantity of one’s works. A second element, of course, is the quality of one’s writing.
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When I think about the super-selling books, though, what they have in common is that they are distinctive. They stand out as something fresh and memorable, because they contain unique themes, plots, and characters. They present provocative ideas, unusual settings, iconic personalities. And that is why they become “visible” . . . often, without even much of a marketing push. Those kinds of books succeed by “word of mouth.”
Link to the rest at Robert Bidinotto