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9 Secrets to Selling More Books!

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May 21,2015

 

By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

 

It seems everyone is writing a book these days, doesn’t it? Books have become a strong and important tool for many business owners to bring in new clients or get new speaking gigs. But since books don’t sell themselves it needs to be promoted. We all know that it’s hard enough to write a book. But promoting it? That’s entirely different animal altogether. But what if you could, right out of the gate, know exactly what to do to create an outstanding, well-received book that was promoted in such a way that it sold better than you expected? Sound like a dream? Well, certainly nothing is without risk but in working and speaking with thousands of authors, I have found that there are specific things that work every time - and others that don’t. There is a formula for success, and though varying degrees of it may be modified to better serve your audience and genre, most of the things that propel books to success are the same across the board.

Last year, I spoke at several major conferences and of all the literary genres out there, do you know which one is the toughest? Yep – it’s romance (especially contemporary). Why, you say? Because it’s so cluttered with new titles. So why does this matter to you? Well because if it can work in a highly saturated market, it can work for you, too. From these events, I’ve taken the best of the best tips and distilled them in this article.

 

1. Don’t Let Change Pass You By: Before starting, it’s important to remember that things are constantly changing, so when you implement a strategy you want to monitor and adapt it. Most marketing approaches aren’t “set it and forget it.” Keep an eye on your campaign changes and also stay up to date with what’s going on in general. My typical approach is to follow author blogs, marketing blogs, and publishing blogs, and compare and contrast what I find. I recommend you do the same. When I attend conferences, I pay attention when I hear an author talk about a particular successful strategy. But when I hear it a few times from multiple authors, then I’m really listening. This signifies a beginning trend, and it’s something you need to notice. If you can’t attend conferences, you can do the same thing on blogs. Find the thing that multiple people are talking about. That could signal a possible new trend to follow.

2. Newsletters: Social media is continuously changing exposure formulas, making it harder to get seen in social – that’s why now, more than ever, you need a newsletter. Start building your list early because in the next year or two you’re going to see a big boost towards paid exposure in social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and G+ already offer paid exposure, suggesting we can expect more paid exposure in the future. While none of these sites will go into a 100% paid format, you will see a sharp decline in engagement if you have a free account.

3. Step Up your Ethical Bribe: It used to be that offering a free chapter of your book was a great thing, not so much anymore. To get folks to sign up for your ethical bribe, you have to really make it interesting. Don’t give them something they can get elsewhere without having to give up their email (for example, sample chapters, which are on Amazon). Offer checklists, tool kits, all of those are great. If you’re a fiction author, consider a monthly drawing for a gift card. We’ve used a system called Rafflecopter that will take names and signups and randomly pick a winner for you. It’s actually pretty sweet.

4. Multiple Books: In my business, authors with more than one book always do better than those just pushing a single title. This means the days of just publishing one book and hoping for the best are long gone – you have to promote multiple titles. I know writing and promoting multiple titles sounds like a huge workload, but bear with me, because the next point will help ease you into this idea.

5. Short is the New Long: You don’t need to only put out full-length tomes. Sometimes 10,000 or 20,000 words is more than enough to get the message across. With shorter books, you have more time to write, and it lets you bundle these shorter books into sets for a variety of promotional purposes.

6. Audio Books: I recommend looking into audio books – they had authors all abuzz at the Romance Writers event I mentioned earlier. Believe it or not, audio books are the new black with a strong, rising market to reach readers. It’s pretty easy to get your book into audio - check out ACX via Amazon and sign up. You can also find audio talent there. Typically a book will take about 8-10 hours to complete and cost you $300 per finished hour.

7. The Power of Free: One of my biggest take-aways from Romance Writers was the power of free. It’s important to always have one thing for free. Of course, this is easier when you have multiple books, but as your library grows, you’ll find you can really benefit sales across the board by rotating free days across your books.

8. Get out there!: Sometimes authors ask me “should I really be on this site?” to which I say: yes – be everywhere. When it comes to marketing your book – be ubiquitous. It’s pretty clear that most of the bigger, bestselling authors subscribe to this philosophy, and it’s part of why they’re successful. While I don’t advocate being on every social networking site (because who has time?) you can list your books on tons of sites that require nothing but the time it takes you to post the listing. Free eBook sites, for example are a good resource:

 

But also blogs, in general. I have spoken to authors who will turn down offers to be featured on someone’s website, or reviewed by a blogger who isn’t “big enough.” I think this is a mistake. Accept invitations gracefully. They may not all be the right fit and you can determine that for yourself, but 99% of them will probably be an additional way to get your book out there.

9. Street Teams & Super Fans: I can’t emphasize this point enough! Now, more than ever, it’s essential to engage your fans. At the event I heard the term “street teams” tossed around a lot, but “super fans” and “street teams” mean the same thing: getting fans to help you sell books. How? First, make them feel important. Make them feel they matter a lot to the success of your book (because they do). Offer them specials, incentives, deals and other exclusive things. Regularly remind them how important they are and offer them free “swag” to share with their friends (other readers). One author at Romance Writers mentioned she sent one of her readers, who owns a hair salon sample books, bookmarks and other swag to put in her shop. The results were so positive, the reader keeps asking for more stuff for her salon. Get creative with your street teams, and if you need help with something, ask them. You’d be surprised how quickly these reader/author bonds form, and most of your dedicated readers are willing to go the extra mile to help you!

They say that success leaves clues, and I believe in this 100%. Following successful authors is a big key to creating your own rock star marketing plan. While there are no guarantees, there are pathways that can lead to better places, more committed readers, and – what every author wants – bigger sales.

 


Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.
 

 

 

 

Now that we have identified a few secrets to help you sell more books check out our article on how you can use Amazon as a search engine to help with your promotion strategy.

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