Novelists and app developers have a lot in common. An author puts a lot of work into writing a novel, but when it’s finally published it’s competing with millions of other books out there. Unless you’re a big-name writer, most people will never even get to know that yours exists.
You can try to be creative with your marketing. For example, I did a Kickstarter campaign for my first novel, 11/9, and included the opening scene of The Billion Dollar Heist at the end of it to drive sales through to that. But it’s impossible to compete with the big publishing houses.
The same is true of small-time app developers. Your app may be the greatest in the world, but it steps out into a world that already has around 1.5 million iOS apps and where nobody has ever heard of yours. And with Apple now allowing successful companies to buy even more App Store visibility through search result ads, it can only get tougher for the little guy.
Which is why I think Apple could usefully learn from a new model being used for books by Amazon …