Posted on Jul 26, 2014 in Author Cast
Have you done your 'Homework' before publishing?
Or even after publishing?
If you’ve been self-publishing for a while now, then you are already aware of the fact that to succeed in this endeavor, you will have to treat it as a business.
Unlike traditional publishing, we have to do everything by ourselves – Writing, Editing, Formatting, Cover Designs, Marketing & Customer Service (or the annoying fan mails). Most of us choose to outsource some of these tasks so we can focus more on what matters – writing. But there is one thing that cannot be outsourced. This factor plays an important role in the success of any business – it’s called Research & Analysis or ‘Homework’.
Over the past 2+ years that we’ve been helping authors promote their books, we have identified many trends and read over 1000+ Indie Books. We found trends among both, the authors who were doing great and those authors who just didn’t get it.
Successful Authors followed a pattern, they had a plan. They choose their genres cautiously. They tailored their writings for the market – to sell, not to be admired. They structured their stories to hook readers. They left room for the next book. They formatted for ease and they followed unique pricing strategies. Their covers were eye candies and the books description a sales copy. They focused on getting reviews and they had clear marketing strategies. But above all, overtime they kept ‘evolving’ these strategies to reflect market changes – these were clear signs for us, of authors who were ‘doing their homework’.
On the contrary, we found majority of the books (as much as 80%) did not follow any/clear strategies. A large number of authors were (and still are) shooting arrows in the dark. It won’t work – you need a business plan and you need to learn what works and what doesn’t.
When we reached out to some of these relatively unknown and yet successful authors on what it was that they did differently, the answers came down to a few things:
- Research before you publish,
- Write good books – but write more often,
- Pick genres & categories that SELL and are natural to your abilities,
- Spy on your competing authors and follow/copy their strategies,
- Don’t waste time on social media, let Amazon do the promotion,
- Learn to engineer Amazon & their platform to make optimal use of all their offerings,
- Analyze on a regular basis after you publish, and
- Adapt to market changes/trends to leverage what you have for what you seek.
Writers write & publishers publish, but we self-publishers have to do both. Which is why a single bad decision can cost us time, money and lost opportunities. It is true that you learn as you go, but there are ways that this learning can be accelerated, using both tools and an aggressive ‘testing’ mindset.
Do you track your sales? Get this FREE spreadsheet.
The biggest challenge that most of us have, is finding tools & strategies that actually suit our needs. Most often than not, we ignore the elephant in the room. In this case – spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are perhaps the most simple, user friendly and effective way to track results on a regular basis. Of course developing a template for any business takes time and ‘office’ skills.
Well, we have something sweet for you and we really do hope that you will consider rethinking your Kindle/self-pub strategies – all it takes is one small change to get results: track, rinse & repeat.
Our friends at KDSpy have developed this spreadsheet template for self-pub’ed Authors and they are giving it away for free. But that’s not it, they also set up a 6 minute tutorial on how to use the spreadsheets along with some valuable information. You can get the Spreadsheets/Video’s for free here. (Direct download link)
Reverse Engineering Amazon. A review of KDSpy.
- What if you could find the average price of books in your genre? Will that help your pricing strategies?
- What if you knew how many reviews your book needs before readers will show deeper interest?
- What if you knew the top ‘keywords’ or titles that successful authors employed?
- What if you could get a rough estimate of how much money/sales a book in your genre was generating?
You can get all the answers by analyzing Amazon’s public data. But doing so manually takes time – something that we writers are in a short supply of. However there are smart tools that do the job and more. One such tool is KDSpy.
We first learned about this tool while interviewing fellow authors. Although there are many tools out there, this one came out to be the most affordable and intuitive. KDSpy’s biggest pro is that it integrates into Google Chrome. But what exactly does KDSpy do? It taps into Amazon’s API and uses on-screen data to analyze some key factors on Amazon stores – in seconds. In other words it a must have research tool for any Kindle Author. You can get a copy of this tool here.
Share your expertise
If you have any research/analysis tips & tools that you’d like to share with fellow authors, don’t hesitate to leave your comments here. And do tell us what you wish you had known when you started publishing?
An Interesting Infographic for readers, enjoy.
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