I was in a meeting this last week with a client who is engaging me to ghost write articles for his site. He was almost frantic, in the face of the current economy, to stir up some “action” and get the phone ringing again. His one parting comment served not only as a reason to accept the project, but as inspiration for what I knew would be my next post for my readers, “Nothing happens until something is sold!”
I love everything there is about a book! The feel of it in my hands, the smell of the ink and paper, the story that unravels and reveals amazing characters, the wisdom that transforms people, and even the solitude that comes in sneaking away from the rest of the world to engage with an author I will never meet. I love what a book does for the author, and what it can do to evolve the reader; I love how the gifts and talents I have been given all support the creation of more books – stretching the author out of their comfort zone to share a legacy message with an awaiting world.
However… at the end of the day, “nothing happens until something sells.”
Best Seller’s Book Marketing Strategies
Sadly, although marketing efforts required are vital to the success of any book, many authors feel their job is done once their manuscript is written. Not so! Understandably, there is a lot of creative energy and work that were expended in writing your book, but it is the effort and creative activities found in book marketing strategies which go into the marketing process that will bring life to your book – through sales to an awaiting audience.
I believe it was Ted Nicholas who said, “The writing of a best seller represents only a fraction of the total effort it takes to create one!” If you feel compelled to recoil at the very thought of selling your books, you may need to reconsider investing your efforts in writing… but that would be a travesty for I am sure what you want to share with the world – the world wants to hear! Your task then is to either be aware of who will purchase your book and how to get the message to them that yours is available, or engage the services of someone who can manage that on your behalf – either way – marketing is the critical component that defines the level of success for your book. It is the knowledge of book marketing strategies that separate the best sellers from the writers who have a storage room filled with unsold books. Before you put pen to paper, you must answer the following questions, which, although they pertain to marketing and selling your book, may well define what you write.
- WHO is purchasing books? If you don’t have time to do the research, engage a Literary Strategist to look into those demographics. The data is out there; surveys are being completed by a myriad of companies who put large budgets behind gathering this critical information. You just have to gain access to knowing who your market is and what they are currently buying. If you know the greatest sales are being made to the fifty plus crowd who has an annual income of $80,000 – how would you vary your writing style?
- WHERE are they making their purchases? Have you been so busy writing that you missed the news of Borders “being on the brink?” The first week of 2011 was a clear representation of a growing chasm between possibly the two largest book retailers available. While we were busy writing or reading, Borders was quietly inching toward inevitable bankruptcy, while on the other hand, Barnes and Noble was gloating over the best holiday sales in over a decade. This is key information for authors; think of what a travesty it would have been to not be aware of Borders’ impending doom and placing books in its distribution care. Your book might be a novelty that will sell best in specialty shops – do you know where to find them?
- HOW will your book appeal to a specific audience? How differently would your writing unfold if you knew in advance what your niche audience wanted to read about? If you are writing children’s books – do you place a different spin in your stories to appeal to social changes? Do you put more effort into the visuals or the cover artwork? If your writing appeals to a Christian audience, does your message have to be delivered in a deeply compelling story rather than as a non-fiction work? Do you plan to have one “great” work, or would you better serve your audience by breaking it up and creating a repetitive contact with your audience? Can you captivate awaiting readers with book marketing strategies that make it a seasonal win – for years to come?
- WHAT will your distribution channel look like? The publishing industry has always been an evolving one, but this evolution has been on a fast track the past few years. Where some five to six years ago you would probably have been advised to place your books with as many wholesalers as possible; today you will hear the resounding, loud message to find a tight niche – bookstores are doing the same! Most stores are now more comfortable making their purchases from Distributors, dealing with reputable supply houses, writing one check rather than many, and taking advantage of bar codes and inventory control. The greater message here is to select a limited number of distributors, possibly even one – depending on your genre, and let that distributor handle what could be a nightmare for you so that you can focus on other marketing efforts.
These are a sampling of the kind of things an author who is serious about writing success must be aware. If you want to do more than fulfill a personal accomplishment of having “completed” that manuscript, and if you want to actually be successful at selling the finished product, you need to consider these questions and seriously look at the “business” of writing. I encourage you to do what I would encourage any other business owner … remember that 30% more planning (especially when it is strategic) provides you easily with 80% more productivity!
If you are interested in a complimentary “breakthrough strategy session”, email me at VoicesinPrint@yahoo.com, with the words Reluctant Author in the subject line.Anna Weber Voices in Print – the Literary Strategist who creates innovative book marketing strategies designed to sell.