What Successful Authors Do

If you are an author, one really important question is:

What do successful authors do differently?

This burning question prompted a survey of independent authors by BookBaby, a self-publishing platform for both print and ebooks. BookBaby received 7,789 responses to their recent survey, however, only 4,472 of the respondents were published authors.

Of these 4,472 published respondents, BookBaby found that 38 percent reported that they had made less than $100 on their most recent published book. Another 26 percent reported that they had made between $100 and $500 on their most recent published book. Only 862 (19%) of the respondents reported that they made over $1,000 on their most recent published book.

Based on the answers to the survey, BookBaby dug deep to find out what these 800+ authors are doing differently. The survey found that successful authors generally:

  • Had published five or more titles.
  • Published their titles in both print and ebook format (many also did audiobook format).
  • Paid for professional editing and cover designs for their books.

The survey also looked at what promotional activities these successful authors engaged in. The data showed that, by-and-large, these authors did the following activities to promote their books:

  • Offered the book for pre-sale.
  • Solicited reviews.
  • Held a book launch party.
  • Sent out a press release.
  • Held a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Offered a Kindle giveaway.
  • Took a blog tour.
  • Conducted book signing tours.
  • Created a book trailer for their book.

Interestingly, only 24 percent of these successful authors used a publicist. This means that you don’t have to spend big bucks on hiring a publicist to sell books and make money. This is good news for every independent author and small publisher operating on a shoe-string budget.

Do you want to sell more books? I think that we can learn from other successful authors. If you are not selling as many books as you want, ask yourself: Am I doing all these promotional activities that successful authors are engaging in? If not, then start. These are all actions that any author can take.

It is never too late to start promoting your book. Make a game plan and start working it. The more exposure you get for your book, the more people know about your book, the more sales you will make.

It’s not easy, but the effort is worth it. Promoting a book takes dedication, time, and effort. Decide what you are willing to do and start. You won’t regret it.

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Are You Limiting Yourself?

“This book is for men,” the author said to my daughter as she stood at the book display looking at his book.

“This book caught my eye because I like to travel,” my daughter responded.

“But it’s really for men,” the author countered. “It would make a great dad gift. It’s really for men.”

At that point, my daughter, feeling embarrassed for showing interest in a book “for men” walked off.

Later, she related this story to me. She told me that the book was a travel book with maps and a journal written by a male author. She stated that the author was actively discouraging her from reading his book, even though she was showing interest.

Clearly, this author knew his target audience—men who enjoyed travel. However, he was so tuned to his target audience, that he was limiting himself to “men only”.

Maybe he was not aware that women read books geared for men and that men read books geared for women. While this author may not want to spend his marketing efforts and advertising dollars on women, he could sell more books by keeping in mind that some women might be interested in his book. This mindset would help him keep from shutting out females who show an interest in his book.

One author at CBA Unite shared that she had written a book for young adult females ages 13 to 18. She, too, knew her target audience. However, she went on to say that many moms and dads also read the book. She stated that one of her best reviews was from a dad who read the book.

Knowing your target audience is important. It helps you hone your marketing message and efforts. However, don’t limit yourself to your target audience. After all, a target is just a place to aim.

You should encourage anyone showing interest in your book to read it because:

  1. God can speak to anyone he chooses to through your written words.
  2. Stereotypes are generalizations. They don’t apply to everyone.
  3. The person may be considering purchasing the book as a gift for someone.
  4. Even if your message is not for the person reading the book, they might recommend the book to someone they know will enjoy it.

Whatever you do, never discourage interest in your book. Don’t limit yourself. Keep an open mind when considering who might be interested in reading your book.

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Photo courtesy of Oscar Keys

Four Benefits of Winning a Book Award

“The best piece of advice you gave me was to enter my book into book awards.”

Of all the marketing advice this independent author had received from me, he felt that the encouragement to enter his book into book awards was the most valuable. Holding up his book, the author pointed to the new book award logo on the cover. He shared with me how winning the book award opened doors for promotion and sales opportunities.

Winning a book award provides many benefits. Following are four ways authors benefit from a book award. Winning an award:

1. Gives your book a seal of approval.
Your award sticker signals to the world that your book is excellent, that it is a quality book worth readers’ time and money.

2. Helps your book stand out from the crowd.
An award sticker gives your book’s cover bling, making it eye-catching. Additionally, studies show that when buyers are presented two books on the same topic, they will pick the one with an award sticker over the one without.

3. Brings you prestige.
When you win an award, you get to bill themselves as an award-winning author. Having this type of clout opens doors of opportunity.

4. Provides you and your book publicity opportunities.
The media will pay more attention to a pitch from an award-winning author. Winning a book award gives you additional opportunities to tell your audience about your book and persuade them to buy.

There are numerous book award contests available for authors to enter. One award, the Christian Indie Awards, sponsored by Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is open for nominations. This award honors Christian books by small publishers and independent authors.

If you are an independent author or a small publisher, you can nominate your book for the Christian Indie Awards. Nominations are open at www.christianaward.com.

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How to Bring Attention to Your Book

Every author wants to bring attention to their book. Finding a way for your book to stand out from the crowd in an eye-catching way is good for publicity. What’s the best way to do this without standing out in an “odd” way?

Give your book some BLING.

Bling can be seen everywhere. It is simply ornamented accessories that are worn or carried. Your book can wear bling by sporting a sticker.

Stickers bring attention to a book. Stickers are great for helping a book stand out from the crowd, especially when an author is doing a physical book event such as a book signing, a trade show, a book festival, or anytime an author is showcasing his or her book in person.

There are all kinds of stickers that bring attention to your book. I recently saw a book sporting a sticker that proclaimed it was a “Five-Star Amazon Book”. The sticker caught my attention. I wondered whether the book really had all five-star reviews on Amazon, or just some. So, I looked it up. Sure enough, the book had three five-star reviews. That’s all the reviews it had on Amazon, just three, but all three were five-star.

You, too, can use stickers to bring attention to your book. Here are some ideas from stickers I have seen on books over the years:

  • Book Award stickers
  • Local Author stickers
  • Autographed Copy stickers
  • Five-Star Review stickers (from various review sources including Amazon and Readers Favorites)
  • Award Winning Author stickers (can be used on a book that has not won an award if the author has won an award on another title).

Where can you obtain these stickers? You have a few options.

  1. Book award stickers are purchased from a book award where your book is declared a winner.
  2. Some review services (like Readers Favorites) also allow authors to purchase stickers or a seal to use to make stickers for their books.
  3. There are a few services that sell local author, autographed by, and award-winning author stickers. One of these is http://autographedbytheauthor.com.
  4. Be creative, create your own. Create your own Amazon Five-Star Review sticker or other sticker that will draw attention to your book. A number of printing services offer printing of stickers at a reasonable cost. These include Vistaprint and PrintRunner.

Bling in the form of stickers is an affordable, easy way to make your book eye-catching. If you are doing in-person events with your books, stickers will draw people’s attention to your book.

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What’s Your Spin?

According to King Solomon, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” This includes your storyline or the subject matter in your book.

If there is nothing new under the sun, then the information or story you cover in your book is already available to readers. So, why would they read your book?

Ponder this question for a moment. It’s a good question and one many independently published authors have a hard time answering.

Let me answer it for you—in part.

Readers want to read your book for the spin you put on the subject or storyline. In other words, they will want to read your book for how you solve a problem or tell a story in a way that is unique.

To garner attention in today’s information-rich society, you must tell a unique story. You must handle a topic in a manner different from everyone else.

I recently met an author who is publishing a book on grief. I asked her what made her grief book different then all the others on the market. She stated that her book had to do with grief suffered by suicide survivors (those whose loved ones had committed suicide). I mentioned that there are already plenty of books on this subject and asked how hers is different.

She told me that she is a therapist. In each chapter of her book, she not only deals with a grief issue, she also walks the reader through guided questions she uses in a therapy session. In essence, she said, her book allows people to experience therapy for their grief without having to pay for a therapist.

Now that’s a spin. This approach is unique and a great way for this author to sell her book.

What’s your spin? When you find it, make sure that your voice is consistent and all your marketing content (brand message, website, blog, social media, etc.) reflects your spin. Then you will stand out from the crowd and find readers for your book.

While there is nothing new under the sun, every human being is unique. No other human has the same fingerprint as you. The same can be true for your book. The subject matter will not be new, but you can give it a unique fingerprint.

What’s your spin?

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Photo courtesy of Serge Kutuzov.