What Indie Authors Should Look for from Advertisers, Marketers, and Distributors

Writing Thoughts

I was recently thinking about what I want from each component of my author platform. I think this was the result of paying for Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ads that didn’t come anywhere near paying off. I keep hearing that the market is “pay to play”, and that this is the gateway to play, but I simply have found walls here… not doors.
I realized that this wasn’t a pay to play situation. Instead, it was a way to drip pay for advertising research. That’s great, but not exactly what I was expecting. If I am going to pay for advertising, I want to be given access to unique ecosystems that thrive on niches. Amazon feels too combined for me on that. In addition, they have been known to have horrible stat problems (not updating correctly, incorrect information, etc). I don’t think Facebook is much better, because they make it seem like there is a lot of action around each dollar you spend, even though it’s not real action. “Having an interaction” with an ad is not just seeing it for a couple seconds while they scroll down.
I realized I don’t want advertising, but rather marketing. The official difference between the two is that marketing is preparing a product for a marketplace, while advertising is showing off a product to a marketplace. I would prefer to think of it as: build your own audience versus use someone else’s audience. I would rather focus my efforts on building my own, because then I have a deeper understanding of what that group desires. So I want to work with services that will help me build my own platform, instead of buying space on another person’s platform.
In addition, any place I publish should help me with quality control and analytics. If I mess up and publish junk, it will hurt their platform. On the flip side, I want to know the results of my publishing, which is through analytics. I don’t feel like Amazon fully does that, as they have never wanted any modification of my work and have never told me much about my work in their marketplace. (You get a book rank for several categories and that’s it) Instead, I want to know exactly how well my effort is received. I want to know, for free, conversion ratios. How many people looked, what did they see, and how many decided it was a good value?