Author Topic: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?  (Read 1589 times)  

Offline curious1998

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What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
« on: November 10, 2020, 09:26:04 am »
Hi all,

I'm a programmer who recently became interested in the indie ebooks world - totally blown away by the number of indie authors out there and how fast the market is growing!

Interestingly, though, based on my research it doesn't seem like there's a lot of new businesses out there catering to indie authors as compared with other markets of this size. This makes me assume that maybe things are good enough - authors' needs are being served by the current tools.

But maybe that's not the case? Maybe this is just an area that's been overlooked?

I'd love to hear about the problems you face when it comes to sales and marketing (or anything else that may bother you). I don't care if you think there's no solution - I'd love to hear about your issues anyway. No judgment.

Are there any aspects of your sales/marketing process that are just taking you too much time? Or maybe they feel more expensive than they should be? Or maybe there is something you are just not capable of doing that you think should be doable?

Maybe you are facing issues with a web site, or email newsletter, or issues dealing with Amazon's processes.

You don't have to come up with a solution - I'd just love to hear about the issues you're facing.

It would also be very helpful to hear about how you are currently dealing with these problems (or how maybe you tried to deal with them in the past).

I'd love to at least try and be helpful and maybe work on a project that the indie author community would find useful.

Also, feel free to message me privately if you'd prefer.

Thank you!

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    Online BuckarooBanzai

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 09:53:27 am »
    Personally, just the process of getting started in marketing is difficult. If there was a solution that, from your first book on, built  your branding, accessed reviews, created mailing lists and schmoosed people on twitter and facebook, as well as knowing about AMS, it would be amazing. But perhaps this is a massive job for anyone to be expected to do, especially as most indie authors cannot afford to spend much.

    Offline NikOK

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #2 on: November 10, 2020, 10:39:13 am »
    I don't know if it's a solvable problem, but I find that even very small changes can affect how visible things are on amazon.  A few months ago I was running an AMS ad and had really good success with it.  Then, I tried to do a new one for the same book with the same interests targeted and I am seeing almost nothing happen.  Was it something I changed in the description?  Did I use some word that amazon hates?  It's not like it's costing me a ton, so it's kinda okay, it's just the kind of thing that happens with amazon.  Some unknown small thing caused drastic changes in results.

    I'm not sure if there is a way to solve that other than trial and error, but maybe somebody with more tech knowledge could help explain.  Don't know if this is the kind of thing you were looking for.  It's just the first thing that came to mind.  Thanks for the offer though!  I'm sure there are a ton of people like me who don't know a lot about these things.

    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #3 on: November 10, 2020, 01:48:55 pm »
    Quote
    Interestingly, though, based on my research it doesn't seem like there's a lot of new businesses out there catering to indie authors as compared with other markets of this size. This makes me assume that maybe things are good enough - authors' needs are being served by the current tools.

    I think we're facing the entire opposite issue: there are too many businesses out there hunting for our money without showing that what they have to offer is worth paying for in terms of extra sales generated.

    The issue is not a technological one. The tech we use is simple. It's that we sell $4.99 ebooks and there is very little room, for most of us, to spend money on stuff that isn't going to make us extra money.

    Build something that's of value, and we will buy. But the room we have to buy extra stuff is very small. Many people try. Most are well-intentioned, but they just don't understand that we are mostly sole operators in a very tight market.

    Offline chrisstevenson

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #4 on: November 10, 2020, 02:37:34 pm »
    From one marketing company to the next, I find it increasingly difficult to find out why one works at one time and fails the next (with the same book and presentation). I'm agog at knowing why some marketing companies are complete failures (used more than once) and refund my money, even when I change books entirely or change the presentation on the same book. Marketing is complicated for me to figure out since I'm not really equipped with a mailing list, bidding knowledge and keyword savvy, these three being my obvious weak spots. Continuous marketing costs depress me, causing me to throw money down a hole and, overall, not getting a general ROI from all of my efforts. I've come to the realization that I desperately need a PA or manager since I am not informed enough to make the really critical decisions.
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    Offline Decon

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #5 on: November 10, 2020, 05:40:12 pm »
    The only regular advertising that can produce daily sales and page reads without a category rank to assist sales is AMS. I don't know anything about Facebook.

    All other ads are short lived one offs with mixed results. The problem as I see it is that we are are own worst enemy pushing bidding per click higher that makes  this type of marketing for regular visibility too expensive to run for most of us.

    It also takes up valuable time in maintaining keywords and bids on individual campaigns to evaluate progress and to make additions/deletions to keywords and bids

    Bids per click are far too high to get 1st page visibility just now in relation to the royalty per sale to make it pay for most. Basically it does make sales by participating, but it usually costs more than the royalty for each sale for many in view of the average number of clicks it takes to make a sale .

    AMS is great for what it was designed for which is general merchandise and if you are selling product with say a high retail value that gives you a high gross profit, but indies are talking about royalties of only 2 to 3 dollars royalty on each sale. At between 20 to 50c per click, it doesn't take long to make a loss
    « Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 07:47:38 pm by Decon »


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    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #6 on: November 11, 2020, 12:50:59 am »
    Most of the marketing/ad/sell more books with this neat little trick/ keyword finder/course/class etc are sharing the same rehashed information.

    I am not a programmer but many years ago I was able to use a tool on Amazon that worked like this.  I could enter a field value lets say "Amish Blanket". It would search through Amazon and record each listing. Later as in a week or more, I could rerun the same search and see how much the prices fell in a percentage.

    If you could do something like with different fields of data I would be interested.

    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #7 on: November 12, 2020, 03:45:42 am »
    Quote
    based on my research it doesn't seem like there's a lot of new businesses out there catering to indie authors

    That's a knee-slapper.

    Marketing books isn't easy. It's not a send out a press release or get an ad in a magazine or newspaper sort of thing. Unless it's nonfiction with an audience that looks at those places. For fiction, you have to go where the readers are, and that's where they buy books (and look for them), so learning how to do ads is the key. Also, having a good newsletter.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #8 on: November 12, 2020, 04:12:51 am »
    The only hard thing as far as I'm concerned is having the spare cash to re-invest into marketing, haha.

    Was hoping that after my Bookbub, I'd be able to re-invest all the royalties back into AMS and FB ads, and really get things moving. Alas, furlough from work meant I had to catch up on bills, so I've barely been able to re-invest a penny. Hoping that'll change soon.

    Most of the marketing/ad/sell more books with this neat little trick/ keyword finder/course/class etc are sharing the same rehashed information.

    I am not a programmer but many years ago I was able to use a tool on Amazon that worked like this.  I could enter a field value lets say "Amish Blanket". It would search through Amazon and record each listing. Later as in a week or more, I could rerun the same search and see how much the prices fell in a percentage.

    If you could do something like with different fields of data I would be interested.

    Trioxin, you ever played World of Warcraft?

    I remember a very similar mod you could use called Auctioneer, that scans the in-game auction house (where players can buy and sell various things they find/craft). It alerts you to when items are being sold for less than their usual price, giving you the chance to snap them up cheap, then resell for a profit!

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #9 on: November 12, 2020, 05:46:40 am »
    Since Amazon tightened up on the API usage, several useful sites have fallen by the wayside. (yasiv and salesrankexpress to name just two.)

    Not to be negative, but so many apps and sites that rely on extracting data from websites have come and gone over the years. Some stop working because sites change all the time and the author can't keep up, while others are deliberately blocked or closed down due to threats of legal action. (Speaking in general here, nothing to do with the sites mentioned above.)

    I've been maintaining a sales analyser type app for many years now, which relies on manually downloading spreadsheets from the KDP dashboard. You'd think that was safe enough, but every time they come up with a new format (rare, fortunately) everything has to be rewritten.
     

    Also yWriter, free novel-writing software for Windows PCs. (Mac version in progress).

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #10 on: November 12, 2020, 09:32:53 am »
    There are a handful of tools for finding Amazon keywords, for various ad platforms (mostly AMS). That is always useful, but I'm not sure there's a lot of room in the market.

    Offline nightwork

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #11 on: November 12, 2020, 11:09:12 am »

    Interestingly, though, based on my research it doesn't seem like there's a lot of new businesses out there catering to indie authors as compared with other markets of this size. This makes me assume that maybe things are good enough - authors' needs are being served by the current tools.

    But maybe that's not the case? Maybe this is just an area that's been overlooked?

    if you think that, you didn't do much research

    authors are being hit with  sales pitches for tools every single day-- many of them scammy junk since there are so few real tools you need to be a successful indie publisher

    we're not overlooked, we're being harassed with people who don't know beans about publishing trying to sell us junk tools & scammy courses

    i'd go so far as to say most of the real tools you need are intangibles like craft, ability to hit trends, speed of execution

    in other words ya can't do it for us




    « Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 11:11:19 am by nightwork »

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #12 on: November 13, 2020, 10:12:12 am »
    Recently I wrote a tool to extract single ASINs from anything on the Windows clipboard. It means I can go through a list of links on a product page, and every time I right-click one and copy to the clipboard, the ASIN is added to the ongoing list.  When I'm ready I can copy the lot to the clipboard and paste them into an AMS ad.

    (Right-clicking means I can get the ASIN from sponsored ads where the book looks like a match for one of mine. I would never left-click an ad, of course.)



    Right now I'm writing a tool to track the categories each of my books are in, per country. There's a tool on BKLinks which lets you list the full category paths for any ASIN on the US/UK/CA stores, and by pasting the results into a box I can create my own local database.

    That way, when I add a new book to Amazon KDP, I can copy all the categories from the previous book in the series and then copy the resulting block of text into an email to KDP support, requesting they add the ASIN to those categories.

    Those are two tools I've been working on this week, in between Nanowrimo sessions. Anything to save me time!

     

    Also yWriter, free novel-writing software for Windows PCs. (Mac version in progress).

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #13 on: November 14, 2020, 12:13:38 am »
    The only hard thing as far as I'm concerned is having the spare cash to re-invest into marketing, haha.

    Was hoping that after my Bookbub, I'd be able to re-invest all the royalties back into AMS and FB ads, and really get things moving. Alas, furlough from work meant I had to catch up on bills, so I've barely been able to re-invest a penny. Hoping that'll change soon.

    Trioxin, you ever played World of Warcraft?

    I remember a very similar mod you could use called Auctioneer, that scans the in-game auction house (where players can buy and sell various things they find/craft). It alerts you to when items are being sold for less than their usual price, giving you the chance to snap them up cheap, then resell for a profit!

    I did play a long time ago and I do remember auctioneer. That's a perfect example Side note,  Blizz made a NPC based on my rp character on Moonguard, he still might be there.

    Offline Jena H

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #14 on: November 14, 2020, 06:33:21 am »
    Two thoughts jump to mind for me, which may or may not be relevant to the OP's question.

    1) books that are 'hybrids' or don't fit neatly into a specific fiction category.  I can't go to a place that advertises mysteries, or sci-fi, or romance, because some books don't fit neatly into those categories.  Or any other established category.  It can be difficult to market such category-straddling books, and difficult to find such places to market them.

    2) This is purely anecdotal, but years ago I ran an ad on Facebook.  The book was a non-fiction book, and I knew that there are numerous FB groups for people interested in that topic.  However, other than general keywords or interests (or whatever terminology is used) there is--or was--no way to specifically target members of those Facebook groups.  I feel my ad would have been much more effective if I could have aimed it directly at those specific groups.  I haven't looked into FB for ad purposes since that time, which was about 5-6 years ago.
    Jena

    Offline Ella567

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #15 on: November 18, 2020, 06:23:32 am »

    2) This is purely anecdotal, but years ago I ran an ad on Facebook.  The book was a non-fiction book, and I knew that there are numerous FB groups for people interested in that topic.  However, other than general keywords or interests (or whatever terminology is used) there is--or was--no way to specifically target members of those Facebook groups.  I feel my ad would have been much more effective if I could have aimed it directly at those specific groups.  I haven't looked into FB for ad purposes since that time, which was about 5-6 years ago.

    I guess that their ad algorithm is much better now. Not only Facebook but other platforms as well. So I guess that Instagram ads, Facebook ads and etc are much more effective now.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #16 on: November 18, 2020, 06:36:49 am »
    I tried Facebook ads, two years ago and it was a mess but I only had just my second novel out there.

    Two months ago I dove back into Facebook. This time I came into it with my experience from running and designing Bookbub ads. What a difference!  I have not only dramatically expanded my email subscriber list but real sales as well.  What changed...a third novel, amazon and Goodreads reviews, and a much better author website to back up my Facebook ads.

    What I also learned is that there are a lot of "predatory" marketing schemes out there...too many of them...and for new authors, the challenge is to not be seduced by them.

    AMS ads do work to a degree but require quite a bit of attention...and have become more volatile in the past year as Amazon changes its algos.

    Having said all this, my genre is Teen and Young Adult...other genres may have more specific marketing paths.

    Mark

    Offline spacedin

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #17 on: November 18, 2020, 07:19:38 am »
    What would be helpful? Having a personal assistant/marketing manager who'd take care of everything that wasn't writing, editing, or covers. Way way way too much of my time is taken up with ABW (anything but writing) and I also have a job. There are a plethora of indie author service providers out there and many of them are total scams or gigantic money-sinks. I include in this not just technical services, but website and cover designers, promotional services, and review services. I have a subfolder titled "Never Use These Again" on the Writing tab on my browser. My list of helpful, useful services is extremely small.

    But I never answered your main question: What's too hard about sales and marketing? The answer is twofold: (1) insufficient knowledge and experience and (2) the amount of time it takes to do effective marketing, even if you know what you're doing.
    « Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 07:36:52 am by spacedin »

    Offline boxer44

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #18 on: November 18, 2020, 08:19:58 am »
    Anyone else notice this OP has never been back??   Nor did he respond to an email I sent. 

    Offline chrisstevenson

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    Re: What's TOO hard about sales & marketing?
    « Reply #19 on: November 18, 2020, 10:29:05 am »
    Anyone else notice this OP has never been back??   Nor did he respond to an email I sent. 

    I did notice that and wondered why the OP's questions seemed kind of  analytical in so many areas. It was almost like a survey, and I had the distinct feeling that this could have been a member or representative of a marketing company, or someone who had designs on starting one up. The claim that there didn't seem to be a lot of services catering to Indie authors out there was/is completely inaccurate, since we've never seen more of them being thrown at us than at this time. I've run across marketing companies that are experiencing a serious drop in customers, ad price slashing and a continuous wave of specials. These marketing company/outfits are running headlong into each other, competing for you bucks. Over the years I've used two dozen of them, and kept notes on sales performance. I've also tagged the ones who were complete scams and failures, having used them more than once for different categories and genres.

    I think, individually, we all pretty much know what works for us in the past and currently. The challenge is to find and take advantage of new marketing inroads and improve on our knowledge and applications. 
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