I put three of these ebooks on Amazon. They tanked. I fell into a deeper depression. I had to borrow money from my parents. My humiliation was complete. After a decade of writing I faced complete, abject, ruinous rejection. My agent abandoned ship. Publishers didn’t want my work. And the public refused to buy my self-published works.
But the money gave me just enough breathing room to reassess what I was doing. And one thing I noticed was that I bought into the Amanda Hocking fantasy that all you have to do to sell a book on Kindle is throw it up there with a decent cover and watch the money roll in.
So I took a second look. I spent 20 years in the advertising, marketing and publicity industries before I became a writer, even winning one of the most coveted industry prizes– Adweek’s Media Plan Of The Year. If I couldn’t figure out how to market on Kindle who could?
First, I pored over magazine profiles of Amazon superstars like Amanda Hocking to uncover the secrets to their success. It was as helpful as throwing a drowning man both ends of the rope. Most of the best selling Kindle authors who came out of nowhere to sell hundreds of thousands, even millions of ebooks, have absolutely no idea how it happened. Oh, sure, some will cite Facebook, Twitter and blogging, but I’m here to tell you that can’t even begin to account for their success. Take Amanda Hocking. Right before her books took off she had about 500-1,000 visitors to her social media properties. Do the math. How can 1,000 people drive 2 million in sales? Not possible.
Then, I read every Kindle marketing book and article I could get my hands on. They were useless. Well, maybe not useless. Anemic. The recommendations were all things I already tried: Participating in forums, building email lists, sending out press releases and spending a lifetime toiling in the social media fields.
As I pondered my discovery that profiles of breakout authors and Kindle marketing articles were of no help, I turned to a different approach. I completely immersed myself in Kindle, looking and interacting with it strictly from a marketing standpoint.
I soon realized that Kindle had its own ecosystem. And like any ecosystem, it is a world onto itself, immune to external factors outside its boundaries (like say, traditional marketing or social media).
To understand an ecosystem, a biologist has to know the climate, rainfall patterns, and other phenomena that nourish the soil to make things grow. To understand Kindle’s ecosystem, you have to understand how one organism interacts with another. How do books compete and cooperate? And what goes on between books and readers that lead to a buy click?
You also have to understand the larger environment; that is, how the Internet influences the psychology of purchasing. And you need to learn the topography of one part of that environment—Amazon, and its main source of energy, the search engine.
Once I understood Kindle’s ecosystem, I realized that marketing activity had to take place within its natural boundaries, not outside of them.
Fortunately, I was uniquely suited to develop strategies for this ecosystem. I not only had a 20-year career in advertising, marketing and promotion, I had in-depth experience in selling PDF-versions of ebooks from five blogs for over three years. This sharpened my expertise in SEO (search engine optimization) and “conversion selling,” the process of engaging the customer in a way that leads to a buy click.
Certain dynamics must be in place for a conversion (a sale) to take place. So, when I see a tactic that violates, ignores, or diminishes those dynamics I know it’s absolutely useless. I have tried every imaginable selling tactic. Some have led to spectacular failures, others to exquisite successes. And because of that, I have developed an exquisitely tuned bullshit detector for what works and what won’t.
As I swam through Kindle’s ecosystem I developed a three-word mantra: Attract. Engage. Convert. It’s my shorthand for three bedrock principles:
- Attract: You can’t buy what you can’t find
- Engage: You won’t buy what you can’t connect with
- Convert: You won’t commit unless all your concerns are addressed
Attract. Engage. Convert. These three words will help you navigate through Kindle’s ecosystem, plant your books on rich soil and watch them grow as tall as redwoods. As I said before, when I first started on Kindle my ebooks were selling so badly they were re-enacting the death scene from Camille on a daily basis. I was selling a paltry one or two a week. But after unlocking Kindle’s secrets and honing the Attract/Engage/Convert strategies I’m about to give you, each of those books zoomed into the Top 10 best sellers in their respective categories. And so did just about every book I’ve ever launched for my clients or myself.
One last thing before we get started. You must be a talented writer with a worthy book for a thirsty market or my strategies won’t work. This book is not about the triumph of marketing over quality. It’s about marketing quality. For the most part, the only thing marketing can do for a bad book is hasten its demise.