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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Indie Author Book Marketing Might Get a Lot More Expensive! – Here is What You Can Do

In this blog, I will compare two different types of events; please bear me, there is a point to this.

Story 1:

Monday morning I awoke to the unpleasant news that my computer’s power supply fan was dying. When I turned on the computer it made a nasty noise.

Since I had heard this characteristic hum before, I knew what to do. I turned the computer off, disconnected the cables, loaded it into the car, and drove straight to the best repair shop in town. As I got to the shop, I extended a friendly ’hello’, described my problem, and asked only two questions: “How fast can this problem be fixed?” and “How much is it going to cost?”

“Tomorrow at 3:00 pm. The part is $35, plus labor it'll be $85.”

“Thank you, let’s do it.”

Naturally, I had the reasonable expectation that paying $85 would lead to a guaranteed positive result. Which is what happened. Thirty hours later, my computer was running just fine.


Story 2:

Recently, I got drawn into a Facebook author group discussion about seeking book reviews. I got tagged because I am an Amazon top reviewer who also penned an award-winning book about this topic; I have also been interviewed by multiple news outlets (including Bloomberg) about this topic.

So, I entered the discussion and did what colleagues do - I answered the posted questions, thoroughly. Still, one of the involved authors had more questions. This author had purchased Netgalley’s services which resulted in only very few reviews of his/her book. Netgalley does not guarantee any specific results.

I had already invested quite a bit of my personal time in answering the questions and so I wrote this author a note, “I recommend my book NAKED TRUTHS About Getting Book Reviews.” (This book costs $2.99.)


The author came back telling me, “Yep, I already looked at your books but I haven’t bought yet. How do you decide what to review?  My books are …”

It is an approach so far-fetched that other professionals can only scratch their heads. 

I cannot imagine what a lawyer who wrote a law book would say if he’d be told, I haven’t bought your book yet but I wanted to inquire how do you pick the cases you do pro-bono?

Since this author is not American and most likely doesn’t shop on the .com site I know that s/he did not buy the recommended book.

Which leaves the question:

Since the author’s attempt to get many reviews via Netgalley wasn’t successful and s/he did not buy an expert’s book for $2.99 in order to learn best DIY-practices, what’s the plan? HOW does this author want to get reviews? 

[Maybe, by engaging in review exchanges which Amazon does not allow? Then again, we can only guess, we don't know.] 

At this point, you might be thinking, “Just another crazy story.”

Not so fast.

This story points to a much bigger problem.

Remember my issue with the power supply fan? When I experienced the problem last time, in 2012, the repair would have cost $385. Then, I decided to pass that offer and bought a new unit.

In the meantime, the costs for new parts and labor have gone down. One reason is – though I did not elect to learn how to repair my own computer, millions of people have done just that. In fact, today, kids learn how to perform simple repairs in high school. Many of these kids solve most of their and their friends’ computer problems DIY.”

The price for this specific repair has gone down by 77%.

Which is typical for almost every industry. Eventually, the costs of goods and services go down.


In contrast, the prices of everything related to indie author goods and services have gone up. 

Most of all - the costs for finding semi-professional reviewers.

In 2012, book reviews were free. Zero dollars!

Amazon gave top reviewers the opportunity to list their email addresses so authors (and vendors) could contact them. The top reviewers lined up to write insightful 7-paragraph reviews because many of them competed for a spot in the glamorous, top-10, top-100, top-1000 et al.


But, as more people published books, too many of them followed bad advice and best practices, and the people and organizations who performed free services reacted. 

Amazon tightened their algorithm due to never ending cheating efforts of thousands of indie authors and hundreds of Amazon top reviewers made their profiles invisible. (They don’t want to be caught in the crosswinds of Amazon’s tightened algorithm.)

As a result, in 2018, many indie authors see no other option than buying Netgalley’s services.

The increase from $0.00 to $100-and-up can’t even be expressed in percentages.


The Naked Truth

The publishing industry is an industry like every other. This implies that the industry follows the Law of Supply and Demand.

If indie authors are willing to pay $100-and-up instead of learning and DIY, then that’s what’s being offered. Most likely, prices are only going to go up.

At this point, you might say, “but indie authors are trying to learn, all the time.”

Yep, but are they using best strategies?


For a moment, imagine me or anybody else finding out that their computer’s power supply fan is dying.
How many of us would look for a free blog that explains how to fix the problem?

Certainly, everybody who would attempt exchanging their computer’s power supply fan would study the blogger’s profile to see if this person is really qualified to offer advice. Everybody would search for the best expert blogger's advice AND would also compare different bloggers' instructions. 

Who on earth would trust their computer’s fate to the ramblings of just any blogger who wrote a blog with a catchy title?

Yet, this is exactly what happens in the indie author industry, every day.


Just yesterday I saw blog that that elaborated on how indie authors can find readers.  Not surprisingly, the blog stressed the importance of having a Facebook page but advised to "Be Professional" and use an Author Page rather than a Personal Page.
a) Is this news to anybody - that authors should have a presence on Facebook? -- I call these blogs same old, same old. We have heard the concept one million times, yet somebody decided to mention it for the one million and first time.
b) It’s not clever advice. Of course, every author should have an Author Page or a Book Page BUT the percentage of personal friends that will see your personal postings is twice as high as the percentage of fans that will see your professional page’s postings. 
c) This means if you are a celebrity author who has 30,000 fans and less than 100 FB friends you only post on your Author Page. If that's not the case you are better advised to use both pages for greater visibility.  
d) That’s because (1) Facebook really has three feeds, (2) most often, professional postings are only shown in the Pages Feed, and (3) most FB users still don’t know how to find the Pages Feed.
e) If authors want to split personal and professional postings, setting up a FB group is a much more efficient way to go.

How I do know all of this? Indeed, I set up experiments and counted Facebook postings for an entire week; I also published The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook.

Which leaves the question  Why did the mentioned blogger not present my items b-e?

Most likely, because this blogger did not count Facebook postings and re-postings for one week, like I did.


The difference between an expert’s book and this blogger’s blog

If you purchase a book and find out that the author wrote nonsense, you can pen a nasty review on Amazon.

Of course, you can also post a nasty comment below a blog but the blogger can delete the comment and even the blog.

In fact, in the past, I posted a critical comment below another one of this specific blogger’s blogs but s/he never approved my comment to go live. This blogger’s blog presents only glorious but no critical comments.  


Which  implies, if you really want to save a few dollars, you need to approach reading blogs like doing research for your book (Study only real experts’ books and blogs, verify every bit of information half a dozen times, etc.)

The trend is obvious: As free book marketing opportunities are disappearing and are being replaced with paid options, indie author goods and services are getting more expensive by the year. 

The trend does not look good - Things will probably get worse. 

The only way how indie authors can stop this trend is by doing best research.

Please share your thoughts.


Gisela Hausmann is a 29 yr. self-publishing industry veteran, an email evangelist and a top reviewer. 

Her work has been featured in regional, national, and international publications 
including Success magazine (print) and Entrepreneur, on Bloomberg, The Innovation Show  a show for Square Pegs in Round Holes, "The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling"-podcast, and Austria's Der Standard and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. 

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Gisela tweets @Naked_Determina

© 2018 by Gisela Hausmann