When I was writing the Marketing Strategy posts, I forgot to include this section. Part of the problem is that I don’t necessarily even think about things like this – or do so automatically – but this is rather important.
One of the things to note, as a new author (or when you write a new series in a new genre!) is deciding how you are going to enter the market. Part of that is also understanding the various limitations and issues within the market and what advantages you might have.
Note, this is something you need to do after doing the SWOT & PEST analysis, otherwise, you won’t really be able to put all this together.
Branding & Strategy
There are lots of way to ‘enter’ a new genre or market. Here’s some examples an author could use. Remember, how fast you write and release is going to make a big difference in this too.
Some market entry strategies:
- Niche & localised growth (i.e. releasing work as an indie you write them, slowly and not worrying about marketing to establish a backlist for promoting)
- Leveraging existing authors for cross-promotions
- Buying out an existing author’s IP (and then writing under that author name)
- Co-authoring with an established author in the genre
- Ghostwriting for the genre (useful for learning craft)
- Entering through established publishers (trad pub or small indie publishers with existing marketing and newsletters to leverage)
- Greenfield investment (full entry with high advertising budgets, high level of promotions, etc.)
Each of the above will obviously affect the way you are viewed (your brand) so choosing how to introduce yourself to the market (genre) can make a big difference.
Some of the above options will be dictated by your budget. New authors won’t likely have the tens of thousands of dollars needed to do a greenfield investment entry strategy. This is something existing authors trying to break into a new (often adjacent) genre might do.
It’s also what many publishing companies do with new authors, trying to ‘break them out’ from the field, by throwing a significant marketing budget at them.
If you’re a new author though, options like co-authoring with an existing author in the genre (often indie) or just doing a niche growth strategy might be more suitable. This is especially true when you are able to locate a sub-genre in the genre you enjoy writing in that is exploding with interest.
Other times, if you have no budget or availability to do this, you might ghostwrite or sell your work to publishers, giving you the chance to enter the market and begin the process of building an author name. Obviously, this only works if you manage to get hold of a good publisher.
Barriers to Entry
Lastly, let’s talk barriers to entry. As an author, especially with the change in technology, barriers to entry into the publishing market have lowered significantly. Still, there are some major barriers still in place including:
– in trad pub, these are agents and the limited number of big publishers and entry slots for publishing. In particular, when it comes to doing mass market paperback printing, there are economies of scale issues for getting to those markets
– network effects. This can be spotted in the ‘also boughts’ and ‘customers also viewed’ displays on Amazon product pages. Books at the top get referred to each other constantly (sometimes on purpose in small, niche genres where all the authors might know one another). New entrants might not be able to get such referrals
– high set-up costs. Not as much anymore for ebooks, but obviously high for mass market paperbacks, and audiobooks set-up costs can be incredibly high too.
– predatory & limit pricing in some markets where books are either priced extremely low (generally indies!) to ensure new entrants can’t survive ($0.99 or permafree book 1’s are an example of this) or where books are churned out a high rate with low prices (books that come out every 2 weeks by the same ‘author’, all of which are in Kindle Unlimited (thus being $0 for the reader) are some examples of such barriers
– high advertising & established brands can be a major deterrent, especially in small markets. This comes down to a question of how small the market is, how strong the brand is and how saturated the market is by advertising. Especially when the typical reader is not a ‘whale’ reader, this can be an issue.
LitRPG is an example where there’s established brands, but since the readers are generally whale readers, it’s hard to create a barrier to entry in this way.
On the other hand, this might be happening in certain niche markets in, say, non-fiction where there’s only demand for a few books on that topic.
– contracts, patents & licenses are more something you see in channels like audiobooks (whether you consider ACX’s 7 year contracts or many audiobook publishers with their 7-10 year clauses for writers).
There are other barriers to entry, obviously, but I consider them less of an issue nowadays (research cost, loyalty schemes – on a publisher level, KU is an issue, but not for writers – and switching cost) but they are things to keep in mind.
Last Word – on Competition
So, some of you might be thinking, what about competition? It’s important obviously when evaluating a market, but it’s not a barrier to entry per se. High competition doesn’t stop you from entering a market, it just makes it harder to break in which is why it’s important to pick out the right entry strategy. In a highly competitive market, new entrants might not wish to enter directly but work with existing authors or publishers to break in.
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