Is this your first time here? Catch up on my previous discussions of how the 22 Immutable Laws (made famous in the 1980s by Ries and Trout) relate to Indie Authors by clicking here. Be sure to look for the complete series, edited and in eBook format, coming soon (est. February, 2012). You can also subscribe to the Webbieggrl Blog and have the next Monday Marketing tip delivered straight to your Kindle.
Today, I'm discussing Immutable Law 21: Acceleration, which boils down to the difference between being a "fad" or a "trend." Sound familiar? It should. It's the same as the "tortoise versus hare" concept I discussed a couple of weeks ago. Read that discussion here then click through the jump-break to learn more about what to do when you start winning the race without trying.
Law 21: Acceleration
Ries and Trout define this Immutable Law as follows: successful marketing programs are built on trends, not fads, not even fads that come back to haunt us. Let's refer to the visual aid I borrowed from The Technium's a classic 1000 True Fans article that I love so much. If you haven't read the article yet, do!
The "fad" is the "overnight success" who burns brightly then fades away just as quickly--the "head" in the chart shown. A "fashion" is a fad that comes back then fades again, like spikes in the head, but spread out over much longer periods of time. Halley's Comet is a fashion because it keeps returning--once every 75 years!
A "trend" is the "long tail," a low level of interest which seems to never quite die out and could slide back to toward the head at any given time. My personal goal is the turning point, the 1000 True Fans, though I'd be happy with a long tail of "Lesser Fans" that hung on and paid me residuals for the next 20 years (grin)
I'm pretty sure most Indie Authors pursue becoming a "fad," a short-term phenomenon that might be profitable in the moment, but doesn't last long enough to support the release of your next book unless your next book is ready before the "head" sinks down into the "long tail" part of the curve. This is where Amanda Hocking's strategy of having several books ready before you publish the first one comes in handy. Hocking deliberately built a "trend" so that she would not become a "fad." She has maintained herself on the high side of the 1000 True Fans curve.
Vampire books are a bit of a "fashion," as in a fad which has repeated its popularity. They were popular when "Dracula" came out, and again in the 80s when Anne Rice took them on and of course, twenty years later when Stephanie Meyer brought them back. There've been little spikes but the sustained interest right now is due to Meyer's new twist (just as the sustained interest 30 years ago was due to Rice's). Meyer made vamps her own unique and special snowflakes and rained her blizzard of characters down on us. She also had some excellent management of the hype as well as knowing how to apply the Laws of Success and Failure expertly. That's the key to becoming a trend when you suddenly flare into a fad.
Meyer is writing "in fashion" as they say, but the fact that a "fashion" will fade for many years is but one of many reasons I urge others not to try to follow her lead. A fashion such as hers will play out and fizzle. Unless you're the next new Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer, bringing something new and different to the vampire mythology, you're going to miss out on creating your own trend by trying to ride the wave of someone else's fad or fashion.
Be a Trend Not a Fad
A trend is or should be your objective. Create a trend. Be a trend ^_^ How? It might surprise you but the trick is to manage your success. It's that tortoise versus hare concept again and you need to choose the path of the tortoise despite how appealing the rush of the hare might be.
Don't allow too much success or hype around the success to burgeon too quickly. Don't allow your fame to run unfettered, out of control. It's yours; control it. The most-successful entertainers--the ones who are trends, not fads--control their public appearances and access to their products. They're not all over the place. You cannot get new products every other month. You have to wait. They set the pace, the schedule, the level of need. They control the timing.
What do you do when your success gets away from you, when you start becoming a fad? Hard as it is on your ego, you have to actually dampen the fad. This is not to say stop promoting your work. Rather, never totally satisfy the needs of your customers, always hold something back, or as The Greatest Salesman of All Time P.T. Barnum, once said, "Leave them wanting more."
Note: Sometimes, that quote is attributed to the late, great Walt Disney, whose "trend" also has not yet quite burned out. If you can learn from either of these two masters of entertaining an audience for years and years and across generations, you're way ahead of the game.
The only way to benefit from a "fad" in the long term is to stretch it out and turn it into a trend. That's the only way to make it last. If you'll excuse the lewd reference, it's a lot like sex and forestalling your orgasm. If you've never tried it, do--it's a lot better (more intense, more powerful, more rewarding) when you force yourself to wait. Make it last longer and see how much better off you'll be in the long run. Now am I talking about sex or the success of your writing career? Maybe a little of both ^_^
The next entry in this series is the last: Immutable Law 22, Resources.
Don't worry if you've missed some of the entries in this series. I'll be editing the entire series and publishing it as an eBook just as soon as I get my scifi thriller out later this month, so probably sometime in late February, 2012. Of course, it will always be available FREE in its original form from a link at the top of the blog.
Thanks to @mashable for the tipoffs, in tomorrow's Tuesday Tip I'll look at a few techie start ups to watch in 2012. Thanks to all of you, my dear readers, for joining the blizzard. Follow @webbiegrrl on Twitter for more tips tweeted throughout the week.