...instead of nurturing their current customers? I googled the question because I see so many different industries do this, not just publishing.
It seems to come down to our cultural obsession with growth. Bigger is better! You must have the most followers on social media! You must have the largest mailing list! You must have the most widget sales!
And I see my fellow indies making the same damn mistakes that the big corporations are making. Throwing all kinds of money at attracting new customers, i.e. readers, instead of serving the customers/readers they've already cultivated.
Seriously, what's the point of trying to sell your book to folks that aren't interested? And spending gobs of moola on advertising when you're getting a piss-poor return on your investment (ROI)?
Even better, why aren't you delivering new product to the people you've already attracted?
Any time I've asked that of most indie acquaintances who are bemoaning how much they spend on ads, they look at me like I've grown a second head. Then they tell me they are afraid to stop advertising because when they do, their rank on Amazon falls.
That's their fear talking. They want to stay afloat when maybe they should be deep-diving for more treasure.
You know what reader acquaintances tell me? Some get pissed off when a writer they love stops putting out books in the middle of a series. Others tell me they won't touch a series until the writer completes it.
So what do you do about this catch-22 situation?
Here's my two cents: write a trilogy with a solid ending on the third story but a possibility to keep going. Don't release them until all three books are completed.
Think I'm joking? The first four books of the Bloodlines series were written before I decided to go indie, and I put them out in pretty rapid succession between May of 2011 and April of 2012. I was having a ton of sales at the time.
Then everything went to hell in a hand basket in my personal life. My writing suffered. And I lost a good number of readers because Blood Sacrifice didn't come out until October of 2013.
Nurture the readers that already love you! Let them tell their friend how great your books are. The best way to grow your readership is organically.
Nor am I saying don't advertise at all, but don't do it willy-nilly either. Have a plan.
For example, I'm sticking the 888-555-HERO series in Kindle Select at first, which means it will be exclusive to Amazon. I plan to set Hero De Facto to free when Hero De Novo comes out, and then advertise on a couple of places that specialize in the fantasy genre.
On the other hand, don't be a afraid to pivot. I put out a teaser on FB last year, just a post with the cover of Hero De Facto with the series tagline, "The only thing more dangerous than a superhero is his attorney."
An attorney friend shared the post, and I got 600+ hits from OTHER ATTORNEYS! Not my usual fantasy readers.
So be prepared to adjust your advertising if needed. Be ready to pivot if your assumptions aren't working. Be willing to try outside-of-the-box techniques.
But most of all, be writing that next book.
P.S. I'll report back here later this summer about which plans of mine worked and which didn't. Just remember there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution in the publishing industry!
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