Marketing: Why Should People Buy Your Book?

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Before you can expect to sell books, you must answer two important questions:

  1. Why should people buy your book?
  2. How are people going to learn why they should buy your book?

If you can’t sell the book to yourself, it’s not reasonable to expect to sell it to others.

(A) Because your book is good? Lousy answer.

Why? Because that answer won’t help you sell your books. It’s too general. You need something more specific to work with.

If you hope to advertise that your book is the best thing since ____ (fill in the blank with something fantastic), then most people won’t buy your book because it sounds unbelievable and those who do buy your book may be frustrated if it doesn’t live up to those lofty expectations (which can deter word-of-mouth sales, for example).

More importantly, hearing that your book is good doesn’t attract a specific audience. People are more likely to become interested in your book if they learn something specific about it that appeals to them.

If you offer nothing specific, there is a good chance you won’t be attracting any attention at all. When you do offer something specific, some people will think it’s not for them, but that’s okay because if they aren’t the target audience, they aren’t likely to buy it no matter what (and they are less likely to appreciate it). But if they are the target audience, the specific information will help to attract their interest.

(B) Because there is something unique that will appeal to them.

What distinguishes your book from others like it?

You want this distinction to be conveyed through your marketing efforts.

But don’t make the mistake of saying what’s great about your book while at the same time saying what’s bad about other books.

There is a good chance that people in your target audience love those other books. So if you say anything bad about those other books, this is likely to deter sales.

You’re not trying to show that your book is better. You’re trying to show that your book is different and how. This distinction will be appealing to some people in your target audience.

That distinction might be a clean romance, a protagonist who doesn’t fit the genre’s stereotypes, a plot that will help teens deal with difficult situations, a sci-fi novel specifically for computer geeks, or a textbook with a built-in workbook.

(C) Because you were able to interact with your target audience and show them what makes your book special.

Nobody knows your book better than you do. And that’s the problem! You want others to learn what makes your book special.

So what makes your book special? And how will you get the word out to your target audience?

Identify your target audience. Find your target audience. And when you market, you don’t just want people to discover that you wrote a book. You want them to see what makes your book special. This distinction needs to stand out in your marketing.

(D) Because people who enjoyed your book are telling others what makes it special.

Word-of-mouth sales are invaluable, especially when people don’t just mention that a book is good, but take a moment to explain why it’s good.

The first step is to make your book very good, with some aspect that sets it apart. It has to be worthy of a recommendation by a complete stranger.

The second step is to get your book read. You need to market your book effectively to your target audience.

There are a few things you can do to try to encourage word-of-mouth sales. You can search for bloggers who occasionally review books similar to yours and politely request a book review or interview on their blog (and then wait very patiently). You can contact a small local paper with a press release kit. You can let people discover you’re writing a book and what the special feature will be, do cover reveals, etc.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Developing Good (and Avoiding Bad) Writing Habits

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Authors love to write, write, and write some more. They enjoy sitting down at the computer, typing creatively.

Sitting down and reading grammar books usually isn’t one of their passions. Neither is reading their work carefully to edit it.

Grammar and editing are very important tasks. Authors do them as they must, but it usually isn’t something they love to do.

This makes it all the more important to strive to develop good writing habits. The author who succeeds at this has fewer issues to find and correct when editing.

Just reading about grammar may not be effective; especially, when the reader isn’t passionate about learning it.

Every time the author sits down and writes, the author is reinforcing any bad writing habits that the author may have. And authors tend to write quite frequently.

Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect; practice makes permanent.

In order to reduce bad writing habits and develop good ones, writers must practice good writing habits.

It’s the same reason that golfers who naturally slice will continue to slice forever if they don’t learn how to avoid it. Every time the golfer goes to the driving range and practices the slice, the bad swing habits become more ingrained. If the golfer instead receives effective instruction and practices hitting the ball straight, then the golfer is developing good habits to replace the bad habits.

So writers just need a little instruction and a ‘writing range’ on which to practice.

Every day, learn one new thing about writing (or one thing long forgotten) from a reliable resource. It could be a rule of grammar or punctuation (like when quotes should come before or after other punctuation marks), the distinction between similar words (like ‘affect’ and ‘effect’), or writing advice (like cutting down on useless words). There are many helpful writing resources, from bloggers to textbooks, so there is no excuse for not finding one point of advice every day.

But that’s not enough. Otherwise, the idea may quickly be forgotten.

Now sit down at the computer and type several sentences practicing the correct technique. Practicing what is correct will help turn a bad writing habit into a good writing habit.

Don’t just sit down like a mindless drone cranking out sentences.

Get into it. Write creatively, as if writing a short story or a poem. This will help generate the interest needed to better retain the lesson.

Another way to develop better writing habits is to read books that are well-written, especially well-written classics. This helps the mind become better accustomed to good writing.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers