22 August 2011

How Not to Sell Books

To sell books, you must not sell books. Let me say that again. You have to sell everything but the book. You must sell yourself as a reliable source of entertainment/information. You must give incentive to your readers. You must answer the question why should I buy your books over my other choices?

I haven’t sold a single book yet, but I have downloads. Free tidbits I give to share my world with this world in hopes that it will establish a bond of trust between me and a prospective reader. I spend a good deal of time thinking of new ways to delight and amaze my growing audience. All without selling a single book. Without screaming into the hurricane that is the literary world.

I’ve seen reports of people selling unholy amounts of ebooks. The first question a person would ask is not how, but why? These are not the same questions. An example of why would be that the book was free for a certain amount of time, skyrocketing it into the stratosphere of top-tendom. (I made that up right here)

Maybe it has a pretty cover. Humans are still visual creatures. Anyone trolling the porn on Tumblr can appreciate the free visuals. Art is eye candy and tantalizes the brain. 

Maybe it was a dollar before the big boom of self-published entrepreneurs. A charter member of the Only-A-Buck club. In that case, we must thank it. It’s made it even more difficult for authors intending to live off their earnings to have a ghost of a chance with a book that costs even $1.01.

Maybe it had big corporation backing and a massive marketing campaign. Ah, now this is where it gets fuzzy. Which is the right way to market a product, in this case a book?

The answer is there is no easy answer. The saving grace? Stats. If you have books out on the market, a Facebook page or even a blog, chances are you have stats available to you to show visitor interest, buying trends, even the best days and times to speak to your audience for the maximum effect. This is where I’ve dug in. I’ve found what it is that people enjoy having in their lives. One is cheap entertainment. Another is company, much like a friend, and in many cases, formed friendships. 

Why do we pick up books? Is it in support of an independent author? Boredom? A focused interest?

You better find these things out if you want to survive.

(Photo credit: ardelfin from morguefile.com)


Dorothy F. Shaw said...

Great post. Promotion is necessary for any business and writing is definitely a business. I guess it depends on how bad you want to sell yourself and how creative you can be. I think having a good personality helps quite a bit. If you're not personable, people may read you, but they won't like you and eventually they'll stop reading too.
Just my 2 cents.

nerinedorman said...

I am so sick to death of authors yelling "buy my book" but I'm more interested in the person who writes, what music they like, where they go on holiday.

If I can relate to the author as a person, and not just some sort of selling machine, chances are good they've got me as a paying patron of their arts.

John Wiswell said...

All sorts of things can make someone pick up a book. Author platform, a novel premise, even the raw enthusiasm of one inarticulate friend can get you to look at something. Rather than selling a book, service or personality, though, I'd prefer to simply share myself and what I do.