How to Sell More Books
Arguably, the single most common question which authors type into search engines is How Do I Sell More Books? While that seems like a perfectly reasonable question, it is ultimately self-defeating. Take an example. You have a new metal detector for your birthday and you want to try to find some buried treasure. You type into your search engine, ‘Where Is The Best Place To Dig For Buried Treasure?’ Your computer prints a nice map and off you go. The only problem is, that once you get there, you find 5,000 other treasure hunters. That’s because they all asked the same question and everybody assumed the top answer would be the best.
The best place to dig for new readers is in the places where other authors don’t dig. This sounds difficult but in reality, it’s not, it just involves work. There’s a maxim in business which goes, ‘Successful people are successful because they do those things which unsuccessful people don’t like doing’.
Before one tackles the question of how to sell more books, it might pay to first understand why you are writing. It may sound a strange question but if all you want to do is have your book in print and maybe give a few copies to friends, that’s fine. Writing is a perfectly valid hobby and there is no necessity to turn it into a business. But if one wants to make a living out of writing then one needs to sell more books and an entirely different approach is necessary. It really doesn’t matter if you’re self-published or traditionally published, you are still the one who has to do the work.
The competition for books is fiercer than it has ever been with over 60 million books in print it is increasingly difficult for even the big-name authors to make a decent income out of it. The reader’s dollar is just spread too thin. Fortunately, the vast majority of authors lack the desire to do the work necessary to sell more books and so leave the field open to those who will.
How well does your book stand up against the opposition? If you’re self-published, designing your own covers and doing your own editing it is highly unlikely your book is going to compare favorably against a professionally produced product. You might be better off hiring some professionals to do these bits for you before spending any money on marketing.
Once you have the finest product you can produce, it now needs to be displayed in the best possible way. Writing good marketing text for a book is something which commands huge pay cheques in the book publishing industry. There is a very high level of skill in using just the right words and it is totally different to that needed to write the book in the first place. A good copywriter will know exactly how to present text in a way which will sell more books and make it easy for the buyer to decide on your book. This may be another area where it is best to buy this skill in. A badly written marketing text can confuse readers and far from helping you sell more books, it can leave them wondering exactly what the book is about. Skilfully produced text however, not only draws the reader in but attracts searches in the first place with the strategic use of SEO optimized text.
The next step is your own Author Website. This is the cornerstone of your international presence. This is where your readers will go when they want to find out about their new favorite author. If you don’t have this presence, then you are in danger of losing your readership. An Author Website doesn’t need to be flashy or bouncing with music, videos and popups, in fact, the simpler the better. If you want to sell more books then be sure to aim your site at your readership demographic. If you are writing Cozy Murders then noisy, flashy videos are probably going to turn your natural readers away. Your website should have details of your books and links for buying them, a contact page, an update on what you are working on and links to your social media platforms. That’s it. You can add more if you like but that’s all that is necessary.
Your next most important task is the creation of your Amazon Author Page. This is essential and you can find more details on this here.
Once you have the basics down, it’s time to get busy on social media. Authors are inherently isolationists and tend to dislike the worlds of Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and all the rest but this is where gold is. It is also the place where the majority of authors fall down, which of course, is good news for those willing to put in the effort to dig somewhere the rest haven’t. Over 70% of social media interaction for adults is on Facebook, so that is the place to start. What is the category of your book? Find a group which is inhabited by people you think would have an affinity for your book and become active. Don’t try to sell your book here, just become active and make sure you add something positive to the discussions. People on social media are often very aware when somebody is only there to try to sell more books and not really interested in joining in and contributing. Once accepted, you can make gentle references to your Facebook Author Page but don’t try too hard. (You have set up your Facebook Author Page, haven’t you?) These groups are highly attuned to sales tactics and you may well end up being either ignored or blocked.
Social media is a wonderful tool and it gives you exactly the same chances as the big names working with big publishing houses. But do be careful, these platforms can be terrible thieves of time if you let your attention drift from what it is supposed to be doing and you start looking at pictures of cute puppies.
There is no magic formula when it comes to selling books, which is actually a good thing, because if it were as easy as just asking Google then the gold would all be long gone before you arrived.