We’ll call this the ‘Own Your Niche’ strategy. Joshua Talent at Kindle Formatting has already demonstrated it. However, it’s Aileen Harkwood’s Kindling Romance that really shows how powerful it is, and that authors can do this.
Picking the Right Niche
This is pretty simple – pick the niche that your book or kindle related product is in.
Take Kindling Romance – the author writes romance novels so she picked ‘romance ebooks and kindle romance’.
One thing to note is that you should own http://www.yourname.com – However, it has ZERO value until you’re a big author. So there’s no point in making it your main blog.
Things to take note of –
- By choosing ‘kindling romance’, it still shows up for ‘kindle romance’ on Google. In fact it shows up in the top 5 results.
- Her own book is prominently advertised on the right.
- The site’s general focus is ebooks from various companies, not just Amazon.
- She blogs relatively often and provides good value (see section on value).
- Cater to authors and readers. More on this later, perhaps in another post.
- She started on July 11th, 2009. In approximately 1 month she’s #5 on google for kindle romance books.
The last one is crucially important. The two sites running ads are paying hard money and she gets traffic for free.
Things to avoid –
- If you must go with a free hosted solution like wordpress, at the minimum buy your own domain name so that all links are to your domain, and not to wordpress.
- If you can, host your own site and use your own domain. Wordpress does not let you run ads, does not allow affiliate links except to Amazon, etc.
- Trademarks. Check with a lawyer.
Providing Value and Owning the Channel
At the moment, if you are an independent author, there is no one who has much incentive to promote you.
Readers might – however, the middlemen control everything.
How you change that is by providing value to people, and thus making them use your site (and you) as a resource. Let’s look at Kindling Romance –
- Daily features such as Bestsellers in Romance eBooks, New Releases, eBook Stats.
- A blog that provides updates on romance book deals and news.
- A blog that lets authors promote their books.
Provide a ton of value so that users use you as the channel for books and ebooks in your niche.
Handling Competition – Authors
The biggest point in your favor is that 99% of people want to get value without providing value.
How many authors do you know that are providing value (apart from the books themselves)?
Even people providing free books and fighting for ‘rights’ and against DRM are just using it as a strategy. The minute you start providing real value you stand out – a lot.
Traffic of Good Intent
Hand in hand with niche is to find people in your niche who actually buy books.
- The search keywords that people use are very good indicators (and perhaps the only indicators) of their intent.
- Prefer ‘best romance novels’ over ‘free romance novels’.
- Prefer ‘new romance novels’ over ‘$1 romance novels’.
In general, look for people who intend to buy books and services and not for people who’re looking for free.
The best places to find good customers would be search engines and niche focused, very targeted sites (such as the official kindle forum – however don’t go there and promote your book like a spammer).
Focus on Good Traffic and Build Your Own Site
When you provide good content on your site and use the right strategy i.e.
- Good search engine optimization for search engines (that means good content and not trying to game the system – at all).
- Provide a resource so that people from other sites visit your site, and become regular visitors.
Then you start getting customers.
Search Engines are the best resource and Search engines need good content sites.
Take a look at the results for ‘kindle romance books’ which usually has 2 ads (sometimes 3, sometimes 0) –
Its thanks to Amazon selling romance novels, and to eHow, Suite 101 and Kindling Romance providing content that Google is able to sell ads on the right hand side.
Instead of spending money on ‘traffic’ from facebook and wasting time ‘tweeting’ create your own content and your own site.
All the work you do on twitter or facebook or good reads or any other site is free work for them.
Customers and Mutual Reciprocation
If you provide value, then customers will visit your site again and again and they will reciprocate.
Just don’t be a jerk about it i.e. don’t put up 50 ads. Don’t beg for donations. Don’t ask for help to pay your server costs (for a blog it’s close to zero).
Do it intelligently i.e.
- Put up 1 or 2 ads – 1 for your book, 1 from a sponsor.
- Strike up an affiliate partnership (amazon doesn’t give anything for kindle ebooks – however, other companies do).
- When you find a good deal, that is of interest to customers, promote it.
An Example Strategy
This is what I’d recommend for Ed Ditto, an independent author whose questions were up on this blog a week ago. Just replace ‘comedy ebooks’ by your niche, and you’re set –
- Everything that Kindling Romance is doing.
- Your own domain name with keywords i.e. comedyebooks.com.
- Your own hosted service or wordpress.com with your own domain name.
- Check on trademarks – if you don’t do this you could lose all your work.
- Blog regularly and provide value.
- Focus on what people searching for comedy ebooks will actually be looking for i.e. the best books, free book offers, new releases, news about authors, etc.
- Also buy yourname.com and put up 3-4 pages on it and links to your blog.
- Promote your blog everywhere.
On any site focus on relationships and not on adding value to that site for free i.e. don’t spend 2 hrs a day working for goodreads for no pay. Work on your blog instead.
Feel free to ask questions.