In continuing our current discussion about how book promotion is similar to company marketing we arrive upon a step that can oftentimes single-handedly mean the difference between success and failure. It’s a proven fact. If something is too hard, most people won’t do it.
Amazon.com is a perfect example of this. They have “perfected” the process of online product sales. It is almost TOO easy to buy things on Amazon. How many of us have gone to Amazon to make a single purchase and by the time we’re “checking out” we’ve added one or two additional items? Amazon is the ultimate product sales “person.” This is actually the cornerstone to my book Sell Your Book on Amazon, but you can see examples of “good” selling processes and “bad” selling processes all over the Internet.
I recently saw an article in Entrepreneur discussing a new technology/service company. I recognized the potential it might hold for published authors and so, to experiment with it on our author’s behalf — I have said in the past that I often use myself as a guinea pig for tactics I feel our authors should pursue — I signed myself up to the tune of $29 each month.
Sure, giving them that initial $29 was relatively smooth, but the instant the “credit card cleared” their site seemed to break and I couldn’t log-in to their customer center. A day later I received an email that I could log-in. Apparently they were handling payments manually. Not ideal, but okay. Once I logged-in, however, I was confronted with a non-intuitive “dashboard” that, I’m sorry to say, gave me WAY more credit than I deserved. It made assumptions about my depth of knowledge and asked me questions that I didn’t know the answers to regarding the service they were offering. What’s more, there wasn’t a “help button” or instruction manual or “contact us” link to be found.
In short, they were not making it easy to buy their product or service… Almost impossible, I’d say.
As a company that conducts 100% of our business through our website, we have considerations like this all the time at Outskirts Press. We spend “scads of dough” on website design, optimization, usability, etc., in an effort to make the process as enjoyable as possible for our authors. We’ve come a long way. And we have a long way to go. Our site has tons of information but here’s an interesting fact — people don’t “read” websites, per se. They skim. They browse. The trick is communicating information visually.
Amazon does this very well nowadays. I recently saw a “running example” of what Amazon.com looked like in the 90s. As they say: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
It’s a fine line between improving the customer experience, and constantly changing the website to improve the website, which, ironically, customers don’t like, either. Very few people “like” change.
So how does this consideration translate to book promotion and book sales? It’s a changing world, and people are “using” books in different ways, now. It used to be that there were just “paperbacks” and “hardbacks.” Then, “ebooks” became another format to consider. Nowadays, simply calling something an “ebook” isn’t specific enough, as there are multiple formats and multiple platforms to consider — Kindle books, Sony Reader books, Nook books, iPad books, Stanza books, Espresso Book machine books… the list goes on and on.
“Make it easy for people to buy your product or service.” At Outskirts Press, one of the ways we do that as a company is by making it easy for readers to buy our authors’ books, in as many different platform choices as possible. To that end, we offer options for paperbacks, hardbacks, general ebooks, Kindle editions, and Espresso Book machine editions. Thanks to the Kindle app, our Kindle books are also available on the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad; and we’re working on optional methods for our authors to get their books in front of the Sony, Stanza, and Nook crowds, too.
When an author’s book is available in whatever manner a customer wants it, that is the definition of “making it easy for people to buy your product.”