When I meet with authors and talk with them about their work, there is one issue that everyone mentions as being their most difficult problem: selling their book. Writing a book is taxing and can take a lot out of you, but selling your book can be even more daunting than the blank page. Where do you start?
Before we get into some specific things you can do, the first thing you have to do is accept that you are an author-salesperson. You must sell yourself and your book in order to succeed by any measure. Whether you wrote your book to grow a business, start a movement, speak to a generation, or entertain moms of toddlers, you must convince others to buy it. Daniel H. Pink has written a new book called [amazon_link id=\”1594487154\” target=\”_blank\” ]To Sell Is Human[/amazon_link] that argues that almost everyone is in sales these days, even if they aren’t in a sales job. For an author, this is especially true. You might not have known it when you started writing, but you must become adept at moving others if your book will ever succeed.
By Any Other Name: As an author, the title of your book is one of the most important ways you can sell it. Don’t make your title ambiguous and confusing. Make it very, very easy for your target audience to find your book and connect with it. Think about other titles in the category you are writing and research them. Does your title stand out from them? What separates your book from theirs? Can anyone tell? For help developing your book’s \”Unique Selling Proposition\” (the main idea that is different from anything else), [amazon_link id=\”0887306667\” target=\”_blank\” ]this is the best book[/amazon_link] I have read on it.
More Than Books: When I use the term author-salesperson, many people assume that means that the author is primarily trying to sell their book. In most cases, your book should not be what you are selling, but your primary vehicle to market it. For instance, if you are trying to grow a speaking business, you should not be overly concerned with how many people are buying your book. Rather, you want to focus on moving the right people to pick up your book and motivate them to schedule you to speak. Use your book to point to resources and ideas beyond your book, and do it often. Ideally, you should be able to give away copies of your book for free and still accomplish your goals. If you can do that, you are on the right track.
The Empty Chair: One of Dan Pink’s suggestions in [amazon_link id=\”1594487154\” target=\”_blank\” ]To Sell Is Human [/amazon_link]is to use the empty chair technique that Amazon’s CEO, Bezos, uses all of the time. It serves authors well too. When you write, always keep the reader in mind. What do they want to learn? What is the best way to convey the information to them? When you write, put an empty chair nearby to remind yourself to attune to the desires of your future reader. When you are pitching your book to others, use the same technique to hit on what’s important to them. A physical reminder nearby will help you more than you think; try it a couple of times and you will see the difference yourself.
Experience Beats Features: Research shows that people value experiences over features in the long run. When you are promoting your book, focus on the experiences that it will bring to the reader not on the book’s features. Instead of listing the content, tests, and appendices of a guide to gardening, convey the experiences that they will get from gardening. The feel of the soil, the careful attention you have to pay to the natural environment, the harvesting and enjoyment of the hard work. What is more compelling?
This book will teach you how to grow 47 varieties of vegetables in the Springtime, without a fear of weeds. It also features an appendix with recommended planting times for a dozen different climates.
Nothing beats growing tasty tomatoes from seed to harvest. This book will help you enjoy the sweet taste of tomatoes around your family’s table as soon as you can get your hands dirty.
Ask Yourself: Ask yourself a question before crafting any marketing strategy or working at an author event, like a book signing. \”Can you sell your book to these people?\” List 5 reasons why you can, and focus on these strategies as you put together your marketing for any event. By asking yourself a question rather than just stating that you can sell the book, you are creating new connections in your brain for thinking about how to sell your book to others and developing specific strategies, not just positive affirmation.
Reverse Shoplifting: One of the best, most practical tips that I have read in any book on marketing for authors is the idea of reverse shoplifting. Get your book into stores no matter what it takes, even if you have to sneak it in yourself. This may seem counter-intuitive as you are giving your book away for free, but just think the benefit. Shoppers who are looking for a book in your category will find your book. Like we said before, selling your book should only be a vehicle to get the reader to the your true goal. Write a personal note in the book, leave a paper that describes where they can find more information, and direct them to where they can order more copies.
Here are some ideas on where you can leave your book:
Used book stores – on the shelf
New book stores (if it’s set up for distribution, like all of the books that Lucid Books sells, you can leave it on the shelf and the store will still be able to sell it and make money – and you will actually get a royalty, offsetting the cost of giving it away)
Areas your target reader will find it (ex. leave a book on gardening on the gardening shelves of your local feed store)
As you can tell by the six techniques we have offered here, becoming a great author-salesman starts during the writing process. Think about your ideas and ask good questions while you are writing and you will be ahead of the game. Also, pick up a copy of the excellent book [amazon_link id=\”1594487154\” target=\”_blank\” ]To Sell Is Human[/amazon_link] for more techniques on pitching others and moving people.