ADMIRERS OR BUYERS?
When I read this headline at Copyblogger last week, I thought, well, the author in me needs to develop fans, while the On-Target Words owner in me needs to develop customers. Right? Well, maybe it’s not that simple.
A terrific point made this past weekend by author and entrepreneur Mandie Stevens at the FWA meeting in St. Augustine, was that “this [writing and selling books]is my business.” And writing for any reason other than it’s a hobby makes it a business. So, marketing and promotion of our books has a mission.
TO SELL BOOKS, right? Right!
Now, to take another run at this conundrum, let’s cut to Ben Hale, popular (and successful) sci-fi author and businessman who supports his family of five on his eBook royalties. We taught an all-day workshop together last spring, so I got to sit in his session and learn a lot. And, one of the most memorable things (for me) that he discussed was NOT focusing on book sales. His writing is his livelihood. He loves it. He excels at it. He markets and promotes his books 5 days a week for 60 minutes per day; he writes for 7-8 hours a day. Still, his social media work, which represents 98% of his promotional and marketing venues, is all about developing “fans.” He believes that if he develops fans, he will have a loyal fan base.
Now, why is that important? Because fans BUY YOUR BOOKS. Your new ones and your backlist. And, they talk about your books to others. So, aren’t they customers?
Sure they are. Whether we call them fans or customers, they deserve our best writing. And successful salespeople (any field of sales) will tell you that their success lies in the relationships they’ve built with their customers.
In time, if we continue to write good, polished books and do the work to get the word out about them, we’ll sell a lot of books. We’ll earn more and more in royalties. We’ll reach those goals if we keep writing, editing and producing great books! In essence, if we continue to earn the trust and faith of our fans, we’ll have good customers, too. So, you see, I think of fans and customers in the same way. Now the article I read pointed out that not all fans will become customers, but they are very valuable for the referrals and “buzz” they may provide for your work or product.
I’m with Ben – don’t preoccupy yourself with your sales numbers. This career, like any other, will take hard work and a lot of time. Your business will take time, energy, planning and financial backing. Those are just basic facts of life for any business.
Put the majority of your time and energy into producing a terrific book, no matter what genre or topic you’re writing. Put your money into professional editing and covers, maybe even formatting if you’re going indie on the publishing. And then do it all again! Readers are loyal, but don’t expect them to wait five years for your next book. Two a year is probably the least you should plan on – but make sure they’re great. Keep your hard-won customers satisfied.
I loved this Mickey Spillane quote: “I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends.” There are more than 225 million copies of Mickey Spillane books on the market today! If the proof is in the results, then Mickey (1918-2006) sure knew what he was talking about! And I’m one of his avid customers! Nancy Q.