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What happens when a market gets saturated…

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If you’re a newly self-published author, you’re probably feeling a little bit of a panic. You spent a large chunk of time and effort to create a new work of fiction and then you published it on Amazon.

First, there’s the reality that you’re not going to sell as many copies as you’d hoped. Then you realize that you still need to steer people to your book. Without a significant ad budget you turn to social media to engage an audience. When that doesn’t work you fall into despair, and binge on Chicago style popcorn until you decide to double down on social media because what else are you going to do?

Author Delilah S. Dawson penned an excellent (and blunt) post, “Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.” Delilah dissects how Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram no longer move the needle for authors. Because of one underlying challenge.

There have never been more books. Or more authors pushing books on social media. The market is flooded.

Market saturation happens when there’s a sudden surge in supply of a product without the sudden increase in demand. For example, grocery stores stock more chocolate right before Easter and Halloween because there’s a willingness to buy it. Right after the holidays, the price drops. It’s the same chocolate and it’s not like it expires (as anyone who has ever eaten a chocolate egg found in the sofa cushions in June would tell you).

When a market is saturated, the following things can happen:

  1. There is a sudden decrease in the average unit price;
  2. The product becomes a commodity (the process where consumers no longer distinguish between two different products and buy whatever they grab first, is easiest, or is cheapest). During commoditization, a product sales are no longer driven by traditional forms of advertising; and then,
  3. Retailers, who are also losing money, rush to create loyalty programs to retain consumers.

Sound familiar? Since Amazon brought eBooks to the forefront in the mid-2000s, there have been 3.2 million eBooks published.

Let’s put those steps into the current self-published  market:

  1. Amazon had (approximately) 40,000 new books appear in February 2015;
  2. This is page 100 of a search for “Young Adult eBook” on Amazon. There are 300 more pages. All of these authors are diligently posting their works in their social media circles. In my search, Angelfall by Sandra Ee and current Goldilocks & the 3 Cares Podcast favorite was at the top of the page.
  3. Then Kindle Unlimited appears. Or Oyster.

Sure, name authors can continue to sell eBooks at near-paperback prices. But Joe- and Jane Newauthor have had  to drop their book to $0.99. So what do you do?

In the next Business of… we’re going to look at some hair-brained schemes on how to break out of the cycle.

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Andrew Gaudet

Asker of Questions
Andrew has worked in sales and management for more than a decade. His favorite books include Star Wars "Hier to the Empire" trilogy by Timothy Zahn, "Raw Shark Texts" by Stephen Hall, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey, and "Paris 1919" by Margaret Macmillan. "No plan survives first contact" - paraphrased from Helmuth von Moltke.


4 responses to “What happens when a market gets saturated…”

  1. Elle says:

    I’m struggling with this myself. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity and I’m almost at the point where I’d take that. Looking forward to the next part.

    • Crystal Bourque says:

      I hear you on that, Elle! This year in particular I’ve been struggling with the whole idea of social media and what I should and shouldn’t use it for. I too am curious as to what Andrew’s got for his next post!

  2. Be careful what you wish for, Elle! I can totally create a scandal as your publicist. 🙂

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