You’ve made the decision to publish. You have your manuscript and are working to have it artfully and creatively crafted to distribute and sell. Perhaps you’re self-publishing or working with a publisher. Either way, you still need to have a plan, a strategy for getting your book into the hands of the readers you most want to impact.
Please don’t assume that your publisher will handle this for you. Oh sure, depending on the publisher, you will get some level of distribution help and support. But just because you have a publisher and your book is available for purchase through Amazon and bookstore outlets doesn’t mean your book is actually going to be found on a bookstore shelf. Even if your book is on the shelf, it doesn’t mean that potential customers know that and are looking for it. You have to create that demand. The task of creating awareness for your message and the motivation to buy it is largely up to you.
Here are seven of the most essential things you should plan on doing if you want to get your book sold:
- Get Endorsements – If you haven’t noticed, people make buying decision based on reviews. It doesn’t matter whether you’re deciding what new restaurant to try, what movie to rent on Saturday night, or what type of phone you want to purchase, these days, people make their buying decisions based largely on the opinions shared by others.
For you, that means getting endorsements. Plan on getting at least 10. Twenty would be even better. Publish these in the front of your book. Get people to post positive reviews on Amazon, on your social media, and on your website.
- Get Your Messaging Right – Before you start promoting your book make sure you are crystal clear on who is your most likely reader—and the more specific you can be about this the better. Understand what motivates them, what scares them, where they hang out.
Also, be super clear and succinct in sharing what problem your book’s message solves, what insight it offers, how it will make your reader’s life better. If you can’t share this succinctly and emotionally in a paragraph or even a sentence, you will more than likely fail in your attempts to sell books. Why? Because people are busy. They’re distracted. They have other things on their mind besides buying your book. You have to grab their attention quickly and give them a clear reason to decide to buy your book.
- Email – If you have not already gotten intentional in collecting email contact information on every person you know, start now. A robust email contact list is a huge asset for you. You may think email is archaic and you spend much more time on social media, but social media likes and shares don’t typically translate into book orders. An email offer is ten times more likely to generate a book purchase than a social media post. Use social media for sure. Just don’t rely on it to be the best driver of book sales for you.
Plan an email campaign to your email database offering your book. Test different approaches, and different calls to action. Send out a series of unique email offers spaced out at least a week or two apart. In each email, offer something of value to your audience. Don’t just say “Buy my book.” Give your audience a reason to want to read your email by sharing with them an insight or piece of information or inspiration that matters to them.
- Identify People Who Have an Audience and Who Know and Like You – There are people in your circle of friends, associates, and clients who have a client list, a donor base, or a fan following. Some of these people will be willing to promote your book to their audience either because the message of your book will bring value to their audience, or because they just want to help and support you or because you have offered to donate a portion of your book sales to help whatever cause their audience wants to support. Take time to explore who you know who has an audience and find creative ways to make it attractive and desirable for them to share your book with their audience.
- Use Social Media to Make People Hungry – Whatever the message of your book, find ways through your own social media, blog, e-newsletter, podcast, however you regularly communicate with people to share with them samples from your book. Don’t worry about giving away too much information. Be generous. When you watch a movie trailer, you’re seeing some portion of the actual movie, right? Do they give away the ending? No. Do they share some of the most emotional, or action-packed or compelling parts of that movie to entice you to want to see it? You bet. Do the same with your book.
- Speak on Your Subject Matter – Offering a talk or seminar based on or related to the subject of your book is the most reliable and tried and true method of generating book sales. It’s why musicians go on tour when they have a new album coming out. It’s why movie actors hit the talk-show circuit to promote their movie. Be willing to put yourself out there and talk on your subject matter. The more you do this, the more books you will sell.
- Do Your Homework – There are so many bloggers, radio stations, magazines, e-newsletters, Facebook, and LinkedIn groups who are connecting with the target audience you want to reach. You need to do the legwork to research these and find creative and compelling ways to get your book in front of these audiences. Perhaps they will review your book. Perhaps you can post a blog or write an article that’s excerpted from your book. Maybe you can be interviewed on a podcast or radio show about your book subject matter.
Yes, this could be a full-time job researching and following up on all the possibilities. But if you’re not willing to invest some time (or the money to hire someone to help you) discover all these potential sources of book sales outlets, don’t expect to sell many books.
Need help? Call me. I’d love to schedule time to help you translate this general listing of book marketing strategies into a specific and measurable action plan tailored specifically for you and the audience you most want to serve.
Read Part 1 on this topic here.