Earlier this week I wrote about best selling author Seth Godin’s announcement that he would no longer use traditional publishing for his books. The next day I saw a phenomenal blog post breaking down what Godin’s action actually means—to him and to authors and aspiring authors as well as to publishing. Written by Shiv Singh, Head of Digital, PepsiCo Beverages, this blog post is well worth reading. In my next few posts, I’m going to cover a few of my own thoughts, which were generated by Singh’s post.
First, I’d like to discuss the importance of knowing your readers. Singh wrote: “Seth Godin knows his readers better than his publisher does. Godin has realized that he really knows his readers. He knows what they want, he knows how to reach them and he knows quite clearly what he wants to share. He has is own marketing platform via his blog and his twitter account, too. He doesn’t need a publisher to play that role for him. And with the Internet he can distribute his book to his readers electronically.”
Do you know your readers? Are you intimately in touch with them through face-to-face contact, such as coaching, speaking, and other personal situations? Do you read what they read, hear what they say, understand their needs, desires, questions, problems, etc.? Do you have a good understanding of their demographics? Do you know your market? You must answer “yes” to these questions if you are going to successfully sell books either on our own or through a publisher—but definitely if you are going to do so as an independent publisher.
Knowing your readers also allows you to figure out what to share with them. Successful authors provide readers with books that go beyond filling readers’ needs. They answer their questions, fulfill their desires, connect with them emotionally, solve their problems, and in some way add value to their lives. They offer them something they can’t do without—or at least think they can’t.
You also must know how to reach your readers. You must know where they “live” and how to get into their “homes.” Have you developed a platform from which you can reach your readers? Godin has done that, as Singh mentioned. Have you? If your answer is “no,” you are not ready to sell a book independently. You will need the help of a publisher to distribute that book and to promote it; however, even a publisher may not want you as a business partner without a platform.
So, get to know your readers. And let them get to know you. When you’ve done that, you can take the same step Godin has taken and decide to independently publish your books (primarily through electronic means) and know you will achieve success doing so.