If you’re an unknown author, it is hard to stand out from thousands of other authors trying to get the attention of readers. To make matters worse, cumulative advantage acts like a magnet attracting more and more readers to already known authors.
Imagine two scenarios;
The first is you and all the other authors in an open cry market, like the commodity exchange, yelling to find a buyer. You can yell more often, shout louder, but like everyone, you scream and hope that you're picked out of the crowd.
The other scenario is your in a group, but it’s not as big, and you’re at the center of it. When you speak, those in the group turn and listen. This group grows over time because the community goes out and finds others like themselves and advocates the benefits of being in the community.
Current marketing strategies are the open cry pit. What will work in the future is creating a community.
Direct digital advertising was a massive help to Indie authors. With Amazon, an author had a way to sell to a mass market. With Facebook, an author could find audiences using interest targeting to sell books.
Six-figure careers were made. The cumulative advantage was initiated.
Next was Amazon Ads.
Authors could advertise in the Kindle bookstore, targeting categories, and comparable authors. This was very effective because you were promoting at the bottom of the funnel where people were activated to buy a product.
Again authors were able to scale up audiences with advertising spend.
It worked until it didn’t.
Why is it so hard to replicate those stories of success you hear about?
1. Tactics from direct sales marketing have lost efficacy
Indie authors took their cues from direct sales marketing. If you find yourself using language like funnel, conversion, warming up the prospect, then you’re using the straightforward marketing playbook.
Don’t get me wrong it worked and still works to some extent, but it won’t continue to work.
Simple, because newsfeeds are converting to an endless stream of unwanted advertisements for products. It all becomes noise that we block out. It is a firehose of urgency, scarcity, and false promises about products we don’t want trying to trigger fears or wants.
2. People don’t want to be sold. They want to buy.
Your customers are just like you. They don’t want to be bombarded with nonsense and sales messaging.
They tire of the endless pitch.
In today’s market, customers buy; they don’t get sold. They do research, build trust, and then make a purchase on their terms.
The feeling associated with making the desired purchase is positive, versus the icky feeling of being sold.
What feeling do you want to associate with your brand?
Be part of their buying process rather than hard selling.
For example, I help authors build great businesses. This happens through them buying books, courses, and consulting.
I seek to educate you first to understand the business you're getting into, then understand why when you might need my help. When the time is right for you to get help, then it should be the obvious choice to buy from me. In the meantime, you can continue to learn from my YouTube channel and newsletter until YOU’RE READY!
For a fiction writer, your audience is looking for escape and fantasy. Give that to them while educating them about your stories.
The more you blur the lines between this fantasy and reality, the greater you will compel a potential reader to join in this world you’re creating. When they are ready to buy a new story, make yourself the obvious choice.
3. Advertising platforms saturate quickly
As more and more authors learn how to advertise, they increase the costs for all and reduce the return on investment.
This will happen very fast when your only method of profit is a low priced book.
Furthermore, others are using the same platforms and trying to reach the same customers; therefore, costs will continue to increase. The urgency to win the sale drives up everyone’s expense. My data shows a tripling of costs for a click on Amazon. I’ve observed authors bidding ten dollars a click to protect the ads real estate on the sales page of a book.
4. Everyone is trying to stand out by doing the same thing
As the author's community shares tactics, the effectiveness is diluted. We become the hawkers yelling in Facebook feeds about our books.
The winners will zig when others zag.
I’ll let you in on a secret, there is a way for you to do the same thing as other authors yet be completely different.
Rather than following all the same advertising strategies and growth hacks, focus on your audience.
If all authors focus on a genuine connection with their audience, they can build a community that aligns with their brand and delivers reliable and repeatable sales.
My research reveals that your audience may have far more to do with your success than talent. Cumulative advantage is by far the most potent propellant for success. Cumulative advantage is fed by the network effect, the more community you build, the stronger the force becomes. As an author, you can leverage the network effect to create a cumulative advantage.
Reading as entertainment is about both the solitude pursuit of reading and later being able to share your personal experience of that book with a community.
Fans of your work seek others to indoctrinate into the club. They want friends and family to have the same emotional experience they have had.
By fostering the communal component of your work and leveraging that fanbase to become your greatest advocates, you produce a critical part of cumulative advantage; community.
A reader that enjoys your work has a vested interest. It is just as much their story as yours. You are the author, but the story played out before their mind’s eye. It was their emotion and story experience.
If they create an emotional experience that is beneficial to them, they will want to have those they care for have that same experience. Readers also will want to associate with those that have had that shared experience. If you are prepared to facilitate the creation of a community, then you have the secret ingredient to igniting cumulative advantage.
DIRECT MARKET APPROACH
Your head may be spinning at this point.
You wanted to learn about becoming a full-time author, and I’m talking about how few authors earn a full-time salary, product research, and audience development.
I haven’t even mentioned dealing with starting up your business and those risks (that's next).
Well, there is more to earning a living from writing than just writing.
Remember, I'm trying to help you go into this career eyes wide open.
No BS about how you're going to shoot to the top of the charts, instead I'm showing you a proven and sustainable model. Now let's talk about what's required in running your publishing business.