Think about it: There are thousands of books published by publishing houses each year. And how many books are self-published? It’s pretty much that number squared.
So how do you become one of the few authors whose books really sell? Even more importantly: How do you ensure that you will at least make enough money to offset the expenses of becoming a published author?
Well, to be honest, the odds of doing either are small. But thankfully, it’s not like playing the lottery. There are actual, concrete things you can do to increase the odds that your book will sell. Based on my experience, here are some suggestions…
Before you start writing…
Fiction authors: Have a niche audience in mind.
There are a million mystery writers out there. Ditto for children’s book writers, self-help writers, etc… So start by thinking about how your book is uniquely different from all the others in the industry. Is it about a specific place or time in history (which can bring in people who have a special interest in those subjects)? Does it combine two genres that often don’t go together (like spirituality and mystery, for example)? Figure out what makes your story different from the norm, and make sure you stick to it as your writing the book.
Nonfiction authors: Assess the market.
Make sure you’re writing about what people are looking for. If your specialty is career services, for example, you don’t want to write a book about changing careers in a time where unemployment is sky-high. In that type of market, you’d be much better off writing a book about how to write the perfect resume or what to say in a job interview. That’s what people are looking for, so the market is there waiting for you. Take the time to figure out what the needs/interests are before delving in.
While you’re writing…
It’s never too early to start thinking about marketing a book. While you’re writing it is as good a time as any. Start talking about your book to friends, family and colleagues. Start building an author website and a social media presence.
One of the best things you can do is start a blog. It may sound like a boatload of work to be blogging while you’re also writing your book, but it’s never too early to start building a following.
Most importantly, start collecting email addresses! Even if it’s just friends and family at the beginning, you want to have a ready-made list of people to announce your book to as soon as it’s available.
While you’re publishing/getting published…
Now’s the time to really start ramping up your marketing efforts. You want to be at the pique of your marketing and campaigning several months before your book becomes available. Those efforts should include:
- Planning a book launch promotion strategy
- Sending copies of it to reviewers and bloggers
- Holding contests on your website
- Actively promoting your book release date on your website and on social media
- Blogging like crazy
- Forming relationships with others who have written similar books and/or speak to your target audience
- Creating author presences on GoodReads and Amazon
- Connecting with book clubs that might be interested in your book
And most importantly .. reaching out to that niche audience I mentioned.
How do I do that?
Well, that depends on your audience. But here are a few examples.
If you wrote a book about real estate law, for example, you’d want to be targeting real estate attorneys, investors, etc… You’d want to advertise in publications that they read, get your book reviewed by or testimonials written from people in the field, and offer to blog for free on sites that industry insiders read regularly.
On the other hand, if you wrote a novel that takes place in Martha’s Vineyard, you’d want to focus a lot of your attention on that individual area. You should reach out personally to every bookstore owner in the area and make sure they’re carrying your book. You could offer to do speeches at the local community centers, or visit the local book clubs for discussion.
You get the idea … The more specific your nice audience is, the more likely you’ll be able to get your book to stand out from the rest.
Do you have other ideas about how to get your book to sell? Share them below!