Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Long Tail in Writing and Marketing of Your Books

The following guest post is by Daniel Hall of

I want to start by telling you about a book I’ve been reading. The name of the book is the New York Times bestseller, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

I have scanned and read parts of this book in the past but I have never taken the opportunity to digest the significance of the ideas it describes until now. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise of the book, let me briefly describe it.

Mr. Anderson researched the top Internet-based businesses, companies like Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody, Netflix and eBay, and learned some rather astonishing things about what happens when consumers are given more choices in the marketplace. He documented what is called in statistical analysis a long tail in just about everything people purchased online from books to coffee beans.

The idea of a long tail is this: When you graph what consumers with choices do when shopping at such places as Amazon or eBay, there is a group of products which make up the highest volume sellers. That is, the hits or the products that sell the most. Graphically, these are the products that make up the biggest bump on the graph. However, when you look past the 8,000 or 9,000 bestsellers at these sites the curve dramatically decreases to near the baseline but never quite going to zero sales, aka the long tail.

Now here’s the interesting thing: Anderson’s research found that the vast majority of products, the non-hits at such sites as Amazon and Netflix, sell at least once a quarter. And needless to say there are many more non-hits than there are bestsellers. This phenomenon is statistically represented by a very long tail when graphed.

Be that as it may, the long tail of the sales--as it turns out--is BIG business and the major online retailers know it. It is the reason why Amazon will actually carry books that may only sell once every other year. Fact is it cost them next to nothing to have the product listed and available for sale--just bandwidth and a copy or two of the book on the shelves. For retailers like iTunes and Rhapsody all that’s required to sell is bandwidth since everything sold is digitally delivered.

In effect, the Internet has transformed the supply chain. It used to be that consumers were mostly restricted to buying whatever local brick and mortar stores were selling. For their part local retailers were forced to stock only those products that would sell to the local market. The Internet now makes it economically feasible to list and sell myriad different products without restriction. The curious thing that has developed is that markets now organize themselves around niches based on personal preferences, tastes and affinities but not usually locality.

So what does all this have to do with YOUR financial freedom?

Well, as I read
The Long Tail it dawned on me that the journey to your financial freedom and mine can be greatly accelerated by employing the business model of sites such as iTunes and Amazon. Or, said another way, we should strive to recognize and cultivate a bevy of long tail products and services in our own businesses.

Here’s what I realized: Using print-on-demand services to write, publish and distribute books such as I teach at and produce and distribute DVD’s such as I show in step-by-step detail at, you too can reap the benefits of the long tail in much the same way as the big online retailers do.

That is, you too can put out books, audio programs, DVD’s and other physical products that are manufactured on demand and drop-shipped to customers without inventory costs and little to no set-up fees.

As you add new products you will naturally start to reap the benefits of the long tail. That is, some of your products will sell better than others and some will be more profitable but the real key is THEY WILL ALL SELL. The idea is to put enough products into the pipe and then you’ll really start feeling the financial impact of income rolling in from multiple sources. In effect, each new product becomes another of YOUR financial assets.

And it gets even better because these products can be literally set-it-and-forget-it propositions.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you wanted to do a short historical book on the battleship "Aurora" which on the firing of its guns signaled the start of the Bolshevik revolution. (I only use this example because as I write these words I am sitting in port in St. Petersburg, Russia near where the battleship is still berthed on the Neva River.) Now with print-on-demand you could easily research, write, publish and internationally distribute through Amazon a short book on the subject.

Now here’s the cool thing: Once you have it listed on Amazon, it is henceforth and evermore FOR SALE. You won’t have to pay any fees to continue to list it and you won’t have to promote it or try to sell it because here’s the cincher: When you put a book or other product up on a major marketplace like Amazon, you put the product in the path of traffic. People interested in Bolshevik, Russian, or naval history find you and your product. Many will buy it, as well.

Once you have one product up, you simply rinse and repeat. That is, you put out other products. You keep stuffing the pipe with new product.

Now, if you really want to turbo-charge your success, you don’t just willy-nilly create products. You first figure out what the market wants or what is selling in the particular niche you’re interested in. Then, only after doing your due diligence and research, do you create your products. If you need help with this, I devote an info-packed lesson on determining what will sell before you write it in my training.

Now to maximize the selling power of your long tail it is also better to create products that are related or at least of interest to the group who purchased your last product. Let me give you an example: I broke into this business with a very unique and useful product called
Speak On Cruise Ships: 8 Easy Steps to a Lifetime of Free Luxury Cruises, a product that continues to sell quite well to this day. By inferential logic I knew a couple things about the group who purchased this product. I knew that they were interested in travel and public speaking. I further knew that there were a good many professional speakers, coaches, consultants, trainers and authors among my buyers. Thus, it was rather easy for me to determine what types of products they want. I simply do my level-best to offer high-quality info products that deliver on the promise of the title, but most of the products are somehow related.

Another big benefit to developing related products is you can cross-promote them within your other products. This will result in more sales. In effect, the more related products you have the larger the net you can cast.

Needless to say the content of all your products should be of the very best quality. That is, they should deliver on the promises of the title. This is the best way to keep your customers coming back for more.

But again I want to stress as you add more products you will see a similar graphical representation of your sales as the major online retailers. That is, some of your products will sell more frequently and some less, but the exceedingly encouraging thing is probabilities are high that they will all sell. That’s the long tail at work--at work for you.

In this way, you build assets for yourself and when you build enough of them you will start seeing a real difference in your bottom line and a quantum leap toward you financial independence. I know, I’ve seen it in my own business.

So the question remains, how does one self-publish lots of high-quality, highly profitable products? Fortunately, I have some solutions for you. If you want to see my number one secret for producing books lickety-split you should check out And, if you know how to produce high-perceived value DVD’s cheap and quickly, you should check out Yes, these are both products in my long-tail. Now go get some in yours!
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