Saturday, July 23, 2011

Attention: The driving force behind the web

One of the peculiarities of selling stuff on the web is that the sales curve is quite a bit different.

I have particularly noticed this since I've been publicizing my new book "Shift Happens: The New E-Publishing Paradigm And What It Means For Writers." The topic is the rapidly changing landscape of e-publishing and the opportunities it offers writers.
So far the book is following the standard pattern for ebooks. Sales start off very small and then ramp up. This is unlike a print book which typically starts strong and then runs out of legs after a few months.

I wasn't surprised by this because I've seen the pattern in other ebooks. Even runaway best-selling authors such as John Locke and Amanda Hocking has this happen both of them received paltry first royalty checks (less than $20 in both cases) on books that ultimately sold a million copies or more.

This difference is perfectly normal for ebooks, but it is very discouraging to print authors venturing into ebooks because for the first couple of months the book seems a failure.

That perception of failure can easily become self-fulfilling because it can discourage authors from continuing to publicize and market their ebooks. Selling ebooks takes constant marketing and if you let the effort die, so does your book.

So what's going on here? Why is the sales pattern so different?

The answer is that getting an ebook known is a much more important part of selling ebooks. You have to make your book known to potential customers. In the current state of the industry, this takes time and during that time your sales are low.

This also points up another difference between ebooks and regular books: Persistent marketing effort. In ebooks writing the book is only half of it. The other half is marketing the book after it comes out. That's what drives sales.

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