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Get Off the Tail

AlphaGraphics LongTailGraph

What’s the tail? In 2004 Chris Andersen popularized the concept of the long tail distribution model for retailers. The idea hinges on growing a business by selling less of more.

Amazon is a great example of a long tail business model. By offering a simple way for authors to list and sell their books, Amazon has attracted millions of authors (and become a multi-billion dollar operation).

Well that’s great for Amazon, but what about all the millions of authors like yourself? Do you want to sell less of more? I doubt it. You want to move off the tail toward the head and eventually make it to that thin sliver of blue at the top of the chart.

So how do you do it?

What gets an author off the tail is his or her reach. Your reach is defined by how many people you have in your mailing list, following you on Twitter, liking your Facebook page, and so on.

Your reach is defined by how many people you have in your mailing list, following you on Twitter, liking your Facebook page, and so on.

Too often when authors start selling their books they focus on, well, selling their books. But it’s hard to sell books if nobody knows who you are. Before you begin your book marketing take a minute and do a reach check up:

How many people are…
i.   In your mailing list?
ii.  Following you on Twitter?
iii. Connected to you on LinkedIn?
iv. Connected to you on Facebook?
v.  Visiting your blog?

The combination of all these channels, and many others, make up your reach. To get off the tail, you’ve got to grow your audience.  Once your audience is large enough, not only will you sell more books, but mainstream publishers may offer you large sums of money for the rights to your book, moving you from the far end of the tail to the top of the head.

The good news is that you don’t have to connect with millions of people to sell millions of books. With social media you get the multiplier effect.
The good news is that you don’t have to connect with millions of people to sell millions of books. With social media you get the multiplier effect. Take Amanda Hocking for example. She sold 1 million books in 12 months, with only 6,000 likes on her Facebook page and 5,500 followers on Twitter. But these rabid fans went out and told their friends and drove over a million people to her blog and to Amazon to buy her books.

When you begin marketing your book, focus on your reach and how to increase it. Increase your reach, and the book sales will follow.

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