Yesterday I picked up a book on marketing at the Friends of the Library bookstore. Written in 1986, the book compares marketing to gorilla warfare. (It also refers to IBM as a god of the market place—so yeah, it’s outdated.) But fifty cents seemed like an okay investment. The book’s general advice: seek out the weaknesses of the opposition so that you can destroy them.
I’ve also been trying to hone my business skills by web surfing and I came across articles by Warren Buffett. (Because, let's be honest, I was a literature, not a business, major and I'm a much better reader than I am a business person.) Mr. Buffett talks about how each business needs a moat—a shield that protects from the opposition trying to destroy its business. A good business is focusing on widening its moat. An aggressive business is looking for ways to storm the opposition’s moat.
With sincere respect to marketing experts in general and Mr. Buffett in particular, I must say that when it comes to indie publishing I disagree. The code word in indie publishing is generosity. Help others and gratefully acknowledge when someone helps you in return, because they will. People like to help. It feels good.
I’m not advocating writing glowing, gushing reviews to undeserving books, nor am I saying you should promote what you haven’t read. What I am saying is that when you share what you learn and observe about writing and the book business—people will appreciate that. They might decide to read your books, because writers were readers before they were ever writers, and if they like what they read, they may decide to help you, too.
That’s my indie business plan. Will I be as successful as Mr. Buffett? Probably not. But that’s okay. At least I won’t get wet and dirty wading through moats.