Do We Need A Groupon For Writers?

Hi Writers,

Ok, full disclosure: I’m new to the game. I’ve spent the last fifteen years working as an entrepreneur and as an academic. Just recently, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and bring to fruition the many partially completed manuscripts that I have been working on during my “water cooler breaks.” I know many of you join me in this endeavor. Bit scary, eh? And exhilarating, too.

But the entrepreneurial mindset is one that is hard to shake, and as I navigate my way through the social web, I keep asking myself: how can we writers do a better job at marketing ourselves? That is to say, once we “locate” our readers, and I think a tool can be built to help do a better job at that, what do we do with them then? How do we get our “potential readers” to make a transaction?

My last company was in the travel space and I worked with many of the well-known travel brands. I recall that the big three OTAs—Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity–averaged in the 4-6% range for transactions, with seasonal variations, of course. If Expedia averages 25MM users a month, then that means 1-1.5MM users actually “buy” something each month. As you can imagine, that’s no small chunk of change.

I’m not sure that we writers can expect a 4-6% transaction rate, but one possible way (amongst many) would be to use a Groupon-like tool. Groupon, of course, is not interested in most of us–the margins aren’t there. But it is interesting to note that they did an experiment with Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, and helped him sell 1642 books in three days. Of course you don’t want to use Groupon. After they take their cut, and assuming some other entity (such as Amazon) takes a cut, that leaves very little for you.

But what if there was a tool–elegant yet simply designed–that let you run group-buying campaigns yourselves? One that let you design the offer and then distributed the offer to your “located” audience?

As I said, I’m new to the game; sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes it makes you look like, well, new to the game. Perhaps there is already a tool out there that does what I’m suggesting. If so, let me know. I could use it. If not, I would welcome hearing your ideas and input.

Thanks!

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