OPINION: 8 million strong… and growing

According to Bloomberg in this article dated December 21, 2010, Amazon was expected to sell 8,000,000 Kindles during the year. To be honest, I bet that figure will be greater.

Then there are all those iPads flying off the shelf. The nook color is a pretty damn cool reader and has a growing fan base. I even know a few people who read books on their smartphones (they are tougher than me… I just don’t have the eyes for it).

Even with so many new units and new eBook buyers, as a publisher, I find it a challenge to keep up with the eBook rat race. For better or for worse, the self-publishers have sent a tidal wave of product to readers, most of them priced at 99 cents. This has created a new business advertising model where word of mouth, quality, and more traditional advertising outlets have less of an impact. The new model relies a lot more on building a platform (nowadays, it is all about what you have to offer to a reader in terms of expertise and less so in terms of entertainment), blind luck, and gaming the system.

The platform is something the author (or in my case, publisher) is something that you can control. The Apex blog is what we offer to readers and I hope it serves expertise when it comes to things such as writing, genre matters, editing, etc. My personal blog platform is that of a publisher and editor. A marketing friend of mine explained it like this: “Figure out what you can bring to people that most others can’t. That’s the stuff you blog about. That’s the stuff that will build an audience.” Naturally, there are dozens of other factors… timeliness of posts (personally, I’m poor at this), writing ability, authority, and so on. You hope what you do draws enough attention.

Gaming the system comes next. You offer a taste for 99 cents (perhaps the first book of a series or a novella). You talk a bunch of people into reviewing the book on Amazon. You write your product description in the manner that current marketing studies show is most effective for producing a sale. You make sure your book cover title and author name can be seen on the book’s product page and in search results. You smartly tag your book (and talk a bunch of people into doing the same). You try to place your book in less competitive bestselling book categories. Then you organize an Amazon sales ranking drive to get yourself placed on the bestseller lists (once there, it has been proven by studies that your sales will increase due to the visibility… blind luck will dictate how long or successful your stay on the list will be).

Or you pay $400 to sites like KindleNation to be listed in their newsletter and hope it generates enough interest.

Or you become like a tent revival preacher and appeal to a crowd desperately seeking validation (a high percentage of self-publishers) and build your audience.

Or you mimic a popular mainstream series and appeal to a crowd wanting more of the same.

I’m not making judgments on those who have successfully gamed the system. I tip my hat to them for having the smarts and resources to do so.

Heck, I’m even making a play at the game.

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