Write Selflessly… to Sell More Books #WriteWithCare



By selfless, I don’t mean giving away your books for free.

I mean a distinction between selfless versus selfish in how you go about the writing, publishing, and marketing.

Really, there aren’t two extremes: one who goes about this 100% selflessly or 100% selfishly. Everyone is apt to fall somewhere in between overall.

But let’s look at one possible extreme. Let’s label this as completely selfish (even though from some perspective, one might not agree with this label—don’t worry, we’ll explore this perspective, too):

  • Write whatever comes to mind.
  • Don’t write for a specific audience.
  • Write however you feel like writing.
  • Focus entirely on writing, if possible.
  • Give as little attention to formatting, cover design, marketing, etc. as possible.
  • Avoid interacting with readers or potential readers.

One way this might seem selfish is that you would be writing for you, not necessarily for the benefit of any particular reader. Will any readers actually appreciate what you’ve written?

Another way is that this ultra extreme example doesn’t entail learning or at least exploring the craft of writing itself, such as the elements of storytelling or characterization or making the writing flow.

Finally, this extreme is selfish in not wanting to meet or interact with readers, not to take a vested interest in marketing, not to add a personal touch to the reading experience, not to be willing to get out of one’s comfort zone with marketing, or to not want to take a more authoritative role in cover design, formatting, or the blurb.

Let’s compare with the other extreme, completely selfless (in a sense):

  • Considering your abilities, knowledge, experience, creativity, etc. and how to harness these to match up with real readers.
  • Thinking of ways to attract, engage, and please (or perhaps better, to wow) your audience from the front cover (the moment the reader lays eyes on your book) to the ending (that fulfilling climax and beyond). (Oh, yes! The writing and selling process is a romance, even if the book isn’t.)
  • Researching, learning, and exploring ways to apply elements of effective storytelling, characterization, communication, etc. with a style that suits your writing.
  • Looking beyond the writing itself, appreciating the challenge of trying to hook the reader with the cover and blurb, taking an interest in how the design of the book can supplement the feel of the story, and feeling motivated to share your passion with readers through marketing.
  • Wanting very much to meet readers and potential readers, and to interact with them.

To be fair, there is another perspective to consider.

If you write so much for the readers that you lose yourself… you sacrifice your own style… you write about topics that don’t strongly interest you… your writing goes against some of your own beliefs… you write in ways that you hear are best, but you don’t really believe in them… your motivation becomes to sell as many books as possible, whatever it takes… or worse, you engage in unscrupulous behavior to reach more readers… then you are apt to feel like you’ve sold out.

But somewhere in between is a happy medium, where the author retains a strong sense of identity, but where the author writes more selflessly, trying to put the author’s talents, experience, knowledge, background, style, etc. to effective use to please actual readers.


  • C-are
  • A-bout
  • R-eaders’
  • E-xpectations

Back to the romance analogy with writing, publishing, and marketing, you don’t want a one-night stand. You’re looking for readers to commit to your book. Your series. So you need to commit to your readers. It’s mutual.

Think about how much you C.A.R.E. and how showing this impacts sales, not just now, but in the long run.

  • C.A.R.E. enough to make it easy for your audience to tell what kind of book you’ve written from a glance at your cover.
  • C.A.R.E. to dress your book up in an attractive cover, one that tells readers, “Hey! This author C.A.R.E.s.”
  • C.A.R.E. to stimulate the reader’s interest in the blurb, to not ruin the story for the reader by giving too much away, to show what kind of book the reader should expect.
  • C.A.R.E. to learn and perfect the craft of writing to become an effective storyteller, to create strong characters, to communicate clearly, etc.
  • C.A.R.E. to put the best possible book on the market, one that you will be proud of, one that readers will feel was well worth the money and time spent.
  • C.A.R.E. to find out what readers think, to meet readers, to interact with potential readers, to let your passion show, to get out of your comfort zone and help readers discover your book.
  • C.A.R.E. to think about how readers shop, how they will discover your book, what will pull the reader to your product page, what will make the reader take a chance on your book, how the beginning of the story will hook the reader, whether or not your story will engage the reader throughout, and whether your story is powerful enough to make the reader crave more.
  • C.A.R.E. to make your book so good that it leads to word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Just C.A.R.E.

This works beyond writing books. How selfless do you write for social media? How selfless or selfish is your blog, for example? Is it meeting the needs of actual readers?


Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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Sell More Books

Fourth Quarter Pic

How to Sell Books

Perception marketing: A great book doesn’t just appeal to the target audience, but attracts the target audience.

  • A fantastic cover that the target audience loves. “Wow, look at that!” “That looks like a great read.”
  • A title that creates interest, is easy to remember, and indicates what to expect. Three words or less for fiction, but informative and including keywords for nonfiction.
  • A killer blurb that creates interest, flows well, has the right vocabulary and writing style for the target audience, and clearly shows what to expect, but doesn’t give away too much. Concise for fiction, separated into bullet points for nonfiction.
  • A look inside that looks professional, catches interest immediately and engages it throughout, and delivers on the expectations created in the blurb.

Delivering on the promise:

  • A great book that engages the reader’s interest throughout and exceeds the expectations created in the blurb and look inside.
  • A story that generates strong emotions, balances opposite emotions, and pleases the reader so much that the reader craves more. Nonfiction that provides excellent content and presents it at the right level for the target audience.
  • A book that goes beyond expectations so that it generates many word-of-mouth sales.

Word-of-mouth sales are critical toward building strong and lasting book sales.

Change Your Perception

You want to create a fantastic perception for your book. Start with the perception that you have when you are developing the concept, choosing the title, writing the book, editing, formatting, designing the cover, writing the blurb, perfecting the look inside, and marketing:

  • Don’t think: “I’ve seen books with worse covers sell,” or, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Think: “I want the target audience to drool when they see this cover.” Do: Spend time on your cover, tap into available resources, get feedback, get help if necessary.
  • Don’t think: “I’ll just get this book out there and see what people think.” Think: “I want to know that the target audience will love this book.” Do: Get feedback before you publish. Do you really want to risk selling just a few books after all your hard work? Isn’t worth the extra effort—whatever it takes—to ensure a positive, lasting success?
  • Don’t think: “I want everyone to see my book.” Think: “How do I find and interact with my target audience?” Do: Learn effective marketing techniques.
  • Don’t think: “I need to scream loudest to get my book discovered.” Think: “How can I get my target audience to discover my book?” Do: Build a content-rich website with content that will interest your target audience, and write more quality books.
  • Don’t think: “I don’t know if it’s worth investing in editing, formatting, or cover design because I might not even sell 100 books.” Think: “I want to write a book that people will love, which has a significant audience (it’s okay if it’s a niche audience; in fact, that may be a plus), which will sell enough to make an initial investment worthwhile.” Do: Your research on top-selling, self-published books similar to yours. Study covers, blurbs, titles, look insides, copyright pages, title pages, first pages, author pages, blogs, and marketing tactics.
  • Don’t think: “That reviewer is personally attacking me.” Think: “My book evoked a strong opinion,” and, “Is there anything useful I can take from this review?” Do: Focus on writing more books and marketing effectively. New sales will help to generate more reviews. Quality content will help achieve valuable word-of-mouth sales, which will help to offset any negative reviews.
  • Don’t think: “Let me try to summarize my book.” Think: “My blurb needs to generate interest, engage the reader, and make the reader curious.” Do: Study effective blurbs of similar books, especially top-selling self-published books.
  • Don’t think: “___ doesn’t matter as much as ___.” (Fill in the blanks as you please.) Think: “Let me excel at my strengths, shore up my weaknesses, and achieve good balance,” and, “Let me get it all right, not just part of the book.” Do: Assess your strengths and weaknesses, and strive to improve.
  • Don’t think: “This will do.” Think: “I want my book to be fantastic.” Do: Your best to make that happen.

Visualize an amazing book from cover to cover, and the packaging and marketing, too. Work hard to make your vision a reality.

Don’t settle. Put in the time, effort, and research to achieve a wow-factor.

Chris McMullen

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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