Amanda Hocking went from working a low-paying job to becoming a self-publishing sensation in just a few short months. In less than a year, she rose to become one of Amazon’s top-selling authors and to earning more than $1 million in sales – all by herself. Hocking was rejected numerous times by literary agents and publishers, and so she published and promoted all her books herself.
Now she has an agent and a traditional publishing deal, and many of her books are finally seeing their time in print. Some of her books have even been optioned for movies.
No matter what industry you are in, you can learn a lot from Amanda Hocking’s success. Here are just a few of the things that small businesses and marketers can learn from Amanda Hocking:
Find Your Niche
Hocking has written in her blog and said in interviews that she always wanted to write more high-brow fiction – stories similar to those written by the authors she admired, such as Kurt Vonnegut. But when she would try to write those stories, she didn’t find success.
It wasn’t until she started experimenting with other genres – namely, young adult paranormal romance – that she finally found her niche. While she might have aspired to produce work like the authors she admired, she was actually good at writing another kind of fiction.
No matter what your market, you need to find your niche if you are going to be successful. Experiment until you find what you are good at doing – and then keep doing that.
Study the Market
In 2009, Hocking made it her mission to get published that year. She went to bookstores and she studied what was on the shelves. She looked at sales and trends. She wanted to find out what was selling.
Seeing that vampire stories were very popular, she decided to write one for herself. Another rejection made her realize that market was too saturated. But the larger market for vampire stories – paranormal romance – still held a lot of opportunity, and that’s what she wrote next and where she found her success.
Study the market you are entering. What does the market demand? What do your customers need? What are the gaps that you can fill?
After Hocking started publishing her own books on Amazon, she had some moderate success, with steady sales trickling through. It wasn’t until she started sending her book out to bloggers to get free reviews that her sales really exploded.
In addition to reaching out to bloggers and building relationships with them by e-mailing, sending copies of her book, and commenting on their blogs, Hocking also put a lot of effort into building relationships with her fans. She maintained a blog about her work, participated in forums, and was active on social media.
Building relationships is critical to the success of any business. Online marketing is about more than just creating awareness of a brand. Blogging and social networking should have customers in mind first, and business owners and marketers should use those channels to get to know customers better. The stronger the relationship businesses have with customers, the more loyalty they will inspire and long-term, repeat sales.
Don’t Give Up
Hocking faced rejection after rejection in her quest to get an agent and to be published. Instead of giving up, she kept writing. She edited her works and resubmitted them. She studied the market and tried writing new stories. She solicited new agents and new publishers. Then she tried publishing her work herself – and then tried getting published again.
You are bound to face rejection and failure in your quest to grow your business and make it a success. You should never give up – rather, use that rejection and failure to figure out how to tweak your business or your approach to make it better and find long-lasting success.
There are many things that small businesses and marketers can learn from a break-out success like Amanda Hocking. Studying your market and finding your niche is important to getting the right start. Then you must find ways to build relationships with your customers for long-lasting success. Above all, never give up!
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