There are too many books. Nearly 50 million on Amazon. You have one book, or maybe a couple, or a dozen – and you want customers to catch the buzz.

That’s the equivalent of picking out Bob and Nina from Basingstoke while surveying the population of the UK.

That’s why you need an audience baked in, craving your work, queuing round the block for a book. You need to carve out your own market and create a loyal customer fan base immune to the lure of the other 49,999,999.

1 Stand out from the crowd

What you need is for demand for your book to outstrip supply – that’s the essence of Priestley’s oversubscription. It comes from creating niche market which generate desire and scarcity which drives popularity, demand and comment. For authors, scarcity comes via new material.

2 Innovate a niche genre – or adapt

There are two ways to come up with a niche product. Go it alone with a truly innovative and unique take, never before imagined in the canon of literature (comic steampunk vampire girl detective) – or more easily – by adding to an existing genre with a unique twist. That’s what most books are anyway, the same but different. The first way is harder but gives you time to build reader relationships.

3 Rise to challenge from rivals

But if you’ve opened a niche genre (comic steampunk vampire girl detectives) and they sell big, other authors will come in and feed the demand. They won’t be as good – but that’s not the point.

There are two responses to the challenge from rivals. Loyalty is one. It pays if you’re the first because people will wait for the original rather than accept second-best. The other way is brand.

It isn’t enough these days just to write books from the anonymity of your shed. You need to create a steampunk vampire girl detective universe – through your website, personal appearances, blogs, logos, digital marketing and writings. Live your books. Be your brand.

4 Be business-minded and customer focused

There is a third response to the challenge from rivals, but it’s business-related, not historically the province of authors. Be disruptive in your business practices and eke out a commercial advantage by being cheaper, or more accessible. Think of how Amazon ruthlessly and relentless focussed on customer service. If you run your own publishing operation that could mean trimming margins, increasing service and looking to sell in bulk.

5 Create word-of-mouth buzz

Talking of selling – people don’t like it. They don’t like being told what to think and what to buy, especially when it comes to books which are intensely personal.

Social media allows you to get your loyal fanbase to do your selling for you. People like to think of themselves as independent thinkers – but they can be heavily influenced. You want your customers to be your ambassadors in a world where customer reviews can make or break a product.

Social media is the ultimate marketing tool because people trust their peers more than corporations or sly sales pitches. The key is be known as a trustworthy brand and use that as the basis of expansion, but never forgetting where it originated.

6 Turn your releases into events

First things first, you need to do something people want to talk about. You need a buzz. If there’s a scarcity of new material, then its arrival is an event. Drive this sense of excitement by hinting that something special is about to happen. Even better if scarcity is built in, like a limited-edition release to like subscribers to your newsletters.

By gauging the reaction to your various releases, limited-edition material, exclusive excerpts etc you can also work out what your customers want. From this you can shape future activity. This is a win-win – the business grows its relationship with the customer and the customer feels special by getting exclusive notice – and material.

7 Keep your audience loyal

Once your customers have subscribed, you have a captive audience. Then you must keep them rewarded and entertain. Sending out a regular newsletter is a great way to engage and converse. But the content must tie to your brand – try sending out invaluable information that teaches and demonstrates your expertise.

These newsletters must have value. Tease, yes, but also deliver. You don’t want to create an appetite for a product – then watch a rival capitalise on the buzz you created.

With inspiration from Oversubscribed: How To Get People Lining Up To Do Business With You, by Daniel Priestley. A new edition of the book will be available in February 2020

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Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley