Take stock of your assumptions and efforts for book promotion. Are you doing what it takes to sell more copies of your book, or are you sabotaging your goals?
As a writer and a publisher, I talk to many types of authors every day. Some authors simply enjoy the process of writing and publishing a book, and then feel proud of what they have accomplished, as they should. Other authors are more drawn to what happens after their book is published—in the doors that their book opens for them, both personally and professionally. Still other authors are more interested in the art of selling books and in the satisfaction that comes from succeeding in the marketplace as an author. Which type of author are you? Or are you a combination?
I regularly help all types of authors. I also often share my strategies and tips on how authors can sell more books and receive more return on their investments in themselves and in their ideas. Yet, today I would like to focus not on the shoulds that get results, but on some of the things that get in the way. In other words, what you should not do if you really want to sell more copies of your book. Are you ready?
#1: Do Nothing
I really love all of the optimism and positive energy that authors typically bring to their work. But you can’t stop there if you expect to sell books. When good intentions don’t translate into action, those good intentions have nowhere to go; they simply wither on the vine.
If you build it, they will come may have worked for Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams, but that just doesn’t work for the modern author. If you’d like to sell your book, folding your arms and doing nothing is absolutely the worst thing you can do. Words need to be backed up by concrete actions. So what does your marketing plan look like? You have one, right? It’s time to create one if you don’t.
Try thinking of your marketing efforts as a pie, with one slice representing each of your marketing activities—all the things that will help to promote your book and lead to more and more book sales. You might consider activities like advertising, participating in forums, speaking to groups, participating in social media, guest posting on blogs or in newsletters, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to look at what other authors in your genre are doing. See what is or isn’t working for them.
To sell books, you’ll want to have enough pie slices to satisfy your party, but not too many that your efforts become unfulfilling or unmanageable. But pie analogies aside, your marketing mix needs to be robust enough to be able to achieve your book sales goals. Simply consider what you’re willing to do and how often. And then do it!
#2: Ask the Wrong People to Buy Your Book
Are you knocking on all the wrong doors? Actions are great, but they need to be the right actions if they’re going to work. Think about what you know about your target audience. Do you have the information you need to make good decisions? It’s not enough to simply have a target audience. To sell books and a good amount of them, you need to have the right target audience and the right information to be able to reach them. You need to really know what makes your target audience tick, such as what they care about, where they congregate and who they listen to. Not to mention, your target audience needs to have the income and the time available to invest in your book. You can’t expect people who as a rule don’t buy books to buy your book.
#3: Don’t Give People a Compelling Enough Reason to Buy Your Book
In order to sell books, never lose sight of answering one simple question: What’s in it for them, the book buyers?
Let’s be frank: Book buying is not an act of charity. Think about how many books there are in the world that you yourself decided not to spend your hard-earned money on. Like you yourself, book buyers and book readers need to immediately know what they will gain from reading your book and be convinced of it’s value before they will give it the time of day or spend their money on it.
#4: Don’t Toot Your Own Horn Enough
We all want to do well in life, but many people find it difficult to toot their own horn. To sell books though, you’ll need to get over that fear right now! If you don’t toot your own horn, or take advantage of it when someone else does, then who else will? You need to be your own cheerleader. And remember that your book sales will depend on it.
You know your book is great. Don’t be afraid to tell others about it and what value it can hold for them. And if someone says something great about your book, don’t just say thank you. Encourage them to write a book review or take some other action that will help you to spread the word and sell more books. But whether they end up doing so or not, always be grateful for the initial kindness.
Now I hope you’re thinking openly and honestly about your own book. About what it is that you currently are or aren’t doing, or where you might improve your efforts. I’d really like you to sell as many books as possible!
Dudley Court Press
Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors.