Naturally, if you get publicity for yourself and your book, you expect sales to start ringing up. Sometimes they do, but just as often, they don’t.
Because getting media exposure is just one element involved in marketing a book. When authors ask me, “I’ve been on the radio and in the newspaper, and it got me just three book sales, why am I not selling books?” I respond with a few questions for them.
Do you have a website? Is your book available online? What’s your overall marketing plan? What’s your message?
The fact is, no single marketing strategy will guarantee huge book sales. The most recent mega best-sellers – “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the first Harry Potter novel – are prime examples of phenomenal flukes, not clever marketing. Timing, content, trends and tastes are all variables that can boost or depress sales.
However, there are a few things that will practically guarantee your book doesn’t sell. Are you missing any of these strategic elements?
• A professional-looking website: If you don’t have a website, you’re missing the cornerstone of your book marketing plan. Nearly half of all books sold in North America are sold online, according to Foner.com, which means that’s where half of your potential customers are. If your website isn’t well-designed and professional, and doesn’t effectively market your book, it’s almost worthless. To evaluate yours, visit the websites of your favorite recent book purchases and those of some best-selling authors. I’ll bet you’ll find the same basic elements: a synopsis, an “about the author,” excerpts, testimonials. You can also glean valuable insights about marketing tactics. Your website must give visitors a reason to want to buy your book, or you will lose sales.
• A marketing plan: Marketing plans cost nothing to create and the simplest plan is better than none at all. Your plan will include answers to these questions: Who is your target audience? When will you start and how long will you continue marketing? What kind of publicity will you need to make people aware of your book? Will you advertise, and in which media? Is your audience using social media networks and, if so, which platforms? Will you need the help of a PR firm? If so, which one and why?
• Amazon and/or e-book availability: Amazon is the largest bookseller in North America with nearly $8 billion in sales last year compared to chain bookstore sales of $4.85 billion, according to Foner.com. E-book sales, meanwhile, rose 117 percent in 2011 while print book sales were plummeting; the biggest decline of these was in paperbacks, which dropped 36 percent. Being listed on Amazon and offering an e-book option is essential. The most popular e-book reader is Amazon’s Kindle. Authors can upload their books to Kindle Direct Publishing for free, set the selling price and retain rights to the book.
• A clear message: Every book has a key message for readers; it reflects the passion that drove you to write the book in the first place. You need to be able to articulate the essence of that message. Too often (and I’ve heard it a lot!) authors believe their message to the consumer is, “Buy my book.” That may have value for you, but it has none for your potential readers. What do they stand to gain from reading your book? Will they learn something new? Solve a problem? Gain insights? Be thoroughly entertained? Your message helps fuel your marketing plan.
• A budget: At the very least, you will need a small budget for things like hiring a website designer (ideally, a pro who can design, program AND understands marketing); buying books from the publisher to send to the media; travel expenses for publicity; postage; and working with a PR professional. Even if you don’t hire a PR firm, you’ll at least need a budget for purchasing lists of media contacts to help you get the word out. You’ll incur these expenses whether you’re published by a traditional or small press, or self-published. So plan in advance, because getting that first shipment of books is not the end of the race — it’s just the first milestone.
Are you the author asking, “Where are my sales?” Then, I hope I’ve given you some avenues to explore for answers. Of course, having a well-written, professionally edited book with an engaging cover is vital. Making people aware it exists – and then getting them to buy it – are steps 2, 3, 4 and 5!
Click Here to Read more about how your plan may be missing key elements on PublishingBasic.com