I just received a newsletter entitled “Why won’t my book sell?” and to be honest, after reading it, I felt they were doing the author wrong…
They start out with: You wrote a good book, you are pleased with its looks, you’ve done some social marketing but the sales you’ve gotten are mostly from friends and family… They go on to say – you should revamp your book cover, change your book’s title, work on your book’s description, ask for reviews, etc. While, if you are self published and haven’t worked that hard on your description, kept the first title that came to your mind and created your cover in PowerPoint or bought a template – then I say – YES – work on those aspects – big time.
But if you’ve got a professionally designed cover, something eye-catching…
– If your title is creative & unique, something that makes the reader turn the book over to read the back…
– and your description is well written and informative enough for the reader to want to pull out their wallet…
– then you’ve done everything you can for your book…
The rest is up to YOU!!
Being an author is NOT about writing a book. Yes – you read that correctly. Read it again. It is NOT about writing a book! Yes, the first part of the journey is writing the book, without a doubt, no book – no author, but your job is not done when the book is finished – it is just starting! Most marketing firms will say that is when you develop a website, create accounts with every social media platform out there. Spend multiple hours out of every day reading other’s posts and replying to them to build your social status, etc. While yes, that is important (heck that is what I am doing right now with this blog which updates on every social account I have instantaneously thus saving me hours of time) that is NOT the last step – that is step 2.
Step 3 is getting your book – OUT THERE –
Now let me be clear – you want your book available everywhere books are sold online. If you are on Amazon only, you NEED to use their expanded distribution, you don’t want to limit your exposure, but I am in NO WAY condoning the use of Amazon’s CreateSpace (I won’t go into it, but they are not THERE for the author the way it seems).
Enough of that – back to the point – you want your book EVERYWHERE books are sold online. When the reader learns about your book they will do a search for it and you want the first three pages of search results to pull up every online bookstore that has it. Simple as that.
But if you are clued-in to the written word then hopefully you caught the most important part of that sentence – No, it was not about search results – it was: “when the reader LEARNS about YOUR book”.
They Must KNOW it Exists to Find It.
This is the part none of these newsletters will EVER mention. The internet is great. You can learn about anything YOU want to. If YOU want to learn about Aardvark’s you type it in a search and wikipedia pulls it up and you can learn anything your heart desires about Aardvarks. Do you know what it doesn’t do? Unlike a real paper encyclopedia, you can’t turn the page and learn about the Aardwolf. You will NEVER learn about that African animal if you don’t KNOW to look for it first. The same can be said about a web store, your blog or your book. If the world doesn’t know your book exists, they will not know to look for it. They will not buy it because they can’t find it because they aren’t typing it’s title into a search because they do not know it exists.
This is where the REAL WORK begins.
Yes, you can pay for marketing; newspaper and magazine ads, radio and TV commercials, pay per click campaigns. You will find you spent your retirement to make enough sales to pay one mortgage payment. Why did that not work? Because you have to do it constantly – a person needs to be inundated with your info, 8 times by various different outlets before they remember it enough to look into it or be curious enough to learn more. Well, what then?
You have to get your book on book shelves. No Barnes & Noble won’t stock your book because you asked nicely, you have to prove to them it is worth it through your sales – the catch 22. You have to have the sales to make the sells. What to do?
Do consignments; get your book on the shelves of mom and pop shops, trinket stores, etc. When someone is out shopping and they see something they are interested in, they pick it up. When it is in their hand, it is more likely to be purchased than when they see an intrusive ad online. While you will pay as much as 50% of the sale to the consigning store, you will get exposure for the book, not JUST from the purchaser but everyone who walks by and glances at it. The second or third time they walk into the store they may buy it – OR they see it in the store, then see an ad that reminds them of what they saw, that will spark an online search or a return back to the store. It is the ultimate adwords campaign that doesn’t cost you for every glance.
Do tradeshows; book fairs, arts markets, craft shows, church bazaars, library visits… anything the public will come to that you can BE at. I do a ‘show’ every single weekend! If they don’t buy the first time, the likelihood is, the next time they see me they WILL buy. You have to be in front of them. Put your book in their hands and talk to them. Don’t just sit there and smile as they walk by. Stand up, talk to them, ask if they’ve heard of your book. Ask if you can tell them about your book. Introduce yourself as the author. Get them excited by being excited and prove to them through your actions that if YOU are interesting, imagine how exciting your story will be. Sell your book by selling yourself. Then keep it up.
That is the key. Keep selling.
The day you stop marketing, doing shows, not educating the public about your book… is the day your sales dwindle away. You can’t build a business and not work it. You can’t open a grocery store and not stock it. And you can’t write a book and not market it. It is hard work and it is constant. But if you want it – you have to shoot for it. The BEST person to market your book is YOU. So if you aren’t marketing it, you can’t ask why it is not selling. You know.