Over the past few weeks, I have been inundated with questions and visited a few blogs whose posts asked the questions. Authors want to know what to do to sell their books. No, I am not going to sell you anything. Instead, I am going to tell you for free.
This will be a primer for the beginning author selling online. Please do not stop reading and start implementing. Read it in its entirety because some aspects are revisited for further application or caveats you may not have considered. The goal is to turn shoppers into buyers.
Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: No begging. You cannot stand for your dog to beg at the table or your child to whine in the grocery line. Why would you think your readers are any different? Do you like the schmuck who calls during dinner to sell you carpet cleaning? So, why do you think telling someone to buy your book every time you connect would be a winning approach?
- Because you have fallen for it before.
- Because publishing houses do it.
- Because you have no idea what else to do.
1. I hope you liked the book or were interested in it before you saw and succumbed to the command.
2. This is probably the best reason not to do it.
3. We are going to fix that.
Now, I am not saying to never ask for sales. There is a specific way to do it without smashing your audience over the head, thus rendering them incapable of understanding what you wrote.
Not sure a book is for you? What is the first thing you do? Read the reviews. These are from people (you presume) read the book because they were interested and bought it. Honestly, some of them are. If you are waiting for reviews, you are missing out on sales.
The casual shopper stumbles onto your book by browsing or by a link. Shopper has no idea who you are or why they should buy your book. What are the reviews they have to help them? Hmm.
- Give away 10-25 copies of your book.
- Include your best friend, your favorite BIL, your cheerleader, your writing teacher, are you getting this?
- When you send it to them, send them a link to where they can review the book.
- Ask for a good review.
#4 is not bad form. A bad review, especially if you only have three, can cost you customers. Ask the people to whom you give the book to contact you if they do not like it rather than leaving a bad review. Your goal in the early going is around ten good reviews.
It is all in the timing.
What is worse than no reviews? Getting 40 in two days and then never getting another one…ever.
Remember those people who did not give you a review right away? Ask them if they forgot. The trickle-in reviews a few months after your book goes on the market (and throughout its sale) do wonders for the authenticity.
It gives the appearance the book is constantly selling. Yes, it shows the shoppers you are headed for a best seller. Your book is instantly more attractive.
Who can you get to do these reviews?
- Your oldest blog follower
- New blog followers
- A new IRL Quaint
- A blogger who only does book reviews
- One of your social media followers
Well, that did not work.
A marketer (or author who has sold oodles of books) told you to post the link to your buy page on every social network and keep posting it. That advice probably netted you a handful of sales the first time you did it. It is not so effective now, is it?
How many people have you added to the platforms where you plastered your link? Continuing to send out the link (especially in absence of anything else) to the same people is like dialing the wrong number everyday expecting someone different to answer.
Stop promoting the buy page. Start promoting the book reviews. Yes, you still want people to buy your book, but you need to reassure them others have already bought and enjoyed it. Plus, they will have some idea what the book is about and why they would want to read it. You have at least ten links to share now…not just one.
This is the core of buyer confidence. No one wants to be the first one to buy something and then discover they hate it on top of feeling they were roped into buying in the first place.
When begging is acceptable…and expected.
The following places are acceptable and expected places where shoppers are going to actively look for a buy link:
- Info page on all social media
- Email signature
- Fan page
- About me on blog
If your social media houses more than just your family, they are not going to be perturbed by the occasional blast with the buy page. For the record, 18 posts a day is not occasional…neither is every other post.
You are saving money by being your own publicist. You need to act like a professional. Do a little reconnaissance. Drop in on some public relations websites to pick up some tricks they use. Stop thinking like a writer who wants people to buy your books. Start thinking like a publicist who wants to sell books.
I currently have all of my books out of circulation. Why do I think I am qualified to give advice on this? Without the benefit of the giants (Amazon and Barnes & Noble) I sold more than 1,000 copies of my first book in less than three months. I did it by hand. When someone paid, I sent them the book or ebook.
I never spent a penny on marketing.
I am returning to the world of book sales soon. Not only will my books be available on M3 but also those of authors who have been interviewed for the Writer’s Spotlight. If you are interested in marketing your book with M3, email me about scheduling an interview.
If there is any interest in more information about marketing books, art or albums, posts of this type can become a series or a weekly feature. I have information about niche myths, getting others to sell for you, networking and advanced promotion.
If you really do not want to see any more posts like this one, please comment below. If you would like more or different information, you can comment below or email.
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This is a hint from a future post.
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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