Before you can expect to sell books, you must answer two important questions:
- Why should people buy your book?
- 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