How to Find and Keep Your Own Book Customers

This may sound banal, but unless you have prearranged methods to retain each of your book customers (that is, the readers who purchase your book), you’ll never be successful for the long term.

Book publishing is a business. He who owns the customer owns the business. If you simply send your potential reader straight to your Amazon product page, you’ve surrendered that reader to Amazon. You may get the sale but you’ll, no doubt, lose the reader. Who gets to keep the reader? Amazon.

Amazon doesn’t only keep the reader; Amazon also keeps a significant portion of your revenue. Amazon will sell to that customer again and again, but you’ll have to look for the next customer. For as long as you continue to do this, you’ll never be successful for the long term. You might as well take up permanent employment at Amazon. This way, you’ll make even more money.

I have seen indie authors and publishers spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on Facebook Advertising, only to send all their generated leads straight to Amazon. It’s crazy! A marketing strategy like that can only end up in disaster.

So what if you have included an extra clause in the book, instructing the reader to visit your website and sign up for an offer? First of all, make sure that any such offer is at the beginning of your book, and not at the end (as I see many authors do). Secondly, I can almost guarantee that it doesn’t work. Does it work for you?

The greater population of Kindle readers today just buy books and forget about them. How many purchased Kindle books are read past the first quarter, or even opened at all? The Kindle device can reportedly hold tens of thousands of Kindle books, and with the glut of thousands of free books available for download, many Kindle owners acquire more books than they can read in a lifetime. What are the chances of the Kindle reader finding your book before she is too old to recognise the letters? The chances are just too low to make any sense. It’s clearly a failed model that has been proven time and again to be ineffective.

If you ask most KDP authors, they’ll tell you that what they seek is “publishing success.” But what they are pursuing is not success — it is lifetime dependency! The question is, how can you separate yourself from the rest of the pack? What can you do to stand out?

Don’t let the few indie authors appearing monthly in the KDP newsletters trick you into believing that nothing has changed. The “privileged few” self-published authors are even fewer today! Think about it: How many breakout successes have we had since Amanda Hocking?

If you want to take control of your book publishing business, you must learn to take charge of your book customers. Every book customer is a potential Amazon customer. So, make sure that the readers you are sending to your Amazon product page are your customers, otherwise they’ll quickly become Amazon’s customers.

Focus only on acquiring customers, and half the battle is won. You must learn to find, attract and keep your own book customers. Even if you’re the greatest writer on earth, don’t assume that once a reader has read your material, she’ll automatically seek you out. That fallacy was probably invented in the KDP forums. The reality is that, by the time the reader finishes your book (if she’s even able to complete it), Amazon would have drip-sold her numerous other titles such that she may not remember your book title — never mind your author name!

Don’t forget that Amazon is in the business of acquiring customers. If you are in the business of acquiring sales, you may be in the wrong business because it’s the customer who makes the sale. This is why Amazon wields so much power over your book publishing business, especially when you’re a KDP Select author.

Well, you’re only an indie author. What can you do?

Have FAITH!

Focus on the reader, not on the book; focus on the customer, not on the sale.

Attract the reader, but even more importantly, learn to attract the customer. The customer is the reader who pays you to read your material.

Integrate your systems. Your reader acquisition funnel should link to your customer acquisition funnel before leaving for your Amazon product page. Otherwise, you have a broken system.

Teach the reader and potential customer about yourself and your works, and, whenever possible, re-educate them. Aim to get very familiar with your readers. Think about the kind of familiarity you would develop with your customers if you were a bookshop owner. This is the kind of relationship you should aim to cultivate with your readers.

Help your readers and customers find other great self-publishers like you. Be the one to help your readers find their next great read. To do this, meet and partner with fellow authors or publishers who share your values and cross-promote each other to your readers. Your readers will thank you for it, and you will develop powerful alliances with those authors.


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