For years I worked for traditional publishers, pitching their books to chain and independent bookstores. Almost always, books by authors who took their marketing seriously outperformed those of other authors.
Seven things selling authors do well:
1. Start early.
Successful authors know their audience before they write their book. Books sell much better when targeted to a defined market. Craft your book to reach that audience.
2. Build your tribe.
As you write your manuscript, build a relationship with your future reader. This may include communication through speaking engagements and using social media. Before marketing guru Seth Godin launched his recent books (including Tribes), he built a blog presence so thousands of fans were ready to buy each when it released.
3. Learn to market.
Authors write because they want to — and market because they have to. You can find many online resources from authors. The writing and publishing community offers resources through conferences, trade shows, and writing groups. You could even take marketing courses at a community college.
4. Sell to Your Readers.
Yes, learn about traditional sales outlets. But concentrate on selling directly to readers. More books enter the market than can ever find a place in bookstores. Each year, traditional publishers release 350,000 new titles. The average Barnes & Noble might stock 100,000 titles, including new and backlist books. The average independent bookstore might stock 15,000.
If you add to this number the hundreds of thousands of self-published titles, you can see why most new books never make it to traditional stores. Your challenge: Create opportunities outside traditional retail channels.
5. Build an online presence.
Enabling readers to find you means:
● building a website
● blogging regularly
● establishing a presence on social media
Keep up with the latest trends and advice on each of these, make a practical plan, and put it in action.
6. Drive readers to bookstores.
Whether you sell your books through traditional retail or through your website, buyers need to know about your book — and where to find it. Make that easy. Traditional bookstores are much more likely to stock your book if you can prove to them there’s a demand for it.
7. Look for special markets.
If you’ve done your homework, you know the market for which you’re writing, the profile of your ideal reader, and where you can find them. More and more books are being sold through nontraditional sales channels:
● Businesses buy books to give to employees.
● Churches and other nonprofits buy books for donors.
● Conference attendees buy speakers’ books.
One large publisher I worked for had a book with a special message many readers wanted to give to others. We found ourselves selling quantities to car dealerships, large corporations, even catalog companies that didn’t usually sell books. Finding these markets takes work but can multiply your sales.
The Best of Times
Michael Hyatt, former CEO for Thomas Nelson Publishers, says this is the most exciting time to be an author. You have unprecedented opportunities to create and market your content.
Learn how to market and sell, and you will set yourself up for success.
David Sheets serves as the Christian Writers Guild’s president. A book industry veteran with experience at some of its top publishers and distributors, he recently launched 1Source as a consortium to provide a full range independent publisher services for authors and publishers.
At the February 13 to 16 Writing for the Soul conference in Colorado Springs, Dave will teach “Trends in Self-Publishing,” “How Do Publishers Sell Books?” and “Why the Field of Dreams Strategy Doesn’t Work.”
For nearly fifty years, the Christian Writers Guild has trained people to sell their writing.
Explore www.ChristianWritersGuild.com to learn more about our:
● writing courses
● critique service
● Writing for the Soul conference
● Operation First Novel contest
Also, consider publishing your book through Christian Writers Guild Publishing — a unique service that combines:
● quality education
● mentored guidance
● professional production
● effective marketing and sales tools
Finish the course — and we’ll publish your book.
Find out more at CWGPublishing.com