How to Sell More Books

Super Mario Maker 2, a Nintendo video game, released this summer. The game allows players to create game levels and post them online for other players to play. The game allows for creativity as well as game play.

How to Sell More Books

My son is a huge fan of this game. He played the first version and downloaded the second version as soon as it became available. He loves to create levels and post them for other gamers to play. The other day, my son was over-the-Moon happy. Of the thousands of levels that players create, Nintendo featured one of the levels my son created in a video showcasing exceptional player-created levels.

In talking with my son, he told me that he had studied the formulas the makers of the video game used to create levels within the game. He then used those same formulas to create his levels. It was successful.

Yet, it was not just following a formula that got my son’s game level noticed. Rather, it was a combination of strategies that came together. My son followed a formula to create better game levels, but he also showcased these levels on his YouTube Channel that is dedicated to Nintendo games. So, it was a combination of skill, marketing, and plan old luck (or providence).

Authors also love formulas. Just give us the formula for writing a best-selling book, and we will write it. Just give us the formula for marketing to sell thousands of books, and we will do it.

Every time I turn around, someone is peddling a course with a formula for authors on how to sell thousands of books or create a bestseller. Some of the courses I have seen are:

  • How to Sell a Thousand Books in Three Months
  • Launch a Bestseller
  • 3 Steps to a Bestselling Author Platform
  • Nonfiction Writers: Create Six Figure Classes (how to build an online class business)

Authors jump on these classes and pay anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars to learn how they can sell thousands of copies of their book.

I wish it were that simple: Get the formula, follow it, and sell thousands of books. Sadly, it’s not that easy.

There is no proven formula for creating a best-selling book

There is no proven formula for creating a best-selling book.

If there were:

  1. Every book published would become a bestseller.
  2. Someone would patent the formula and use it to create best-selling books, making themselves a lot of money.

Often the people selling these online courses on how to sell thousands of books are authors who have written and published a book that sold well. They then think that they know the “formula” to do this and decide to teach others how to do the same thing.

JA Konrath, a best-selling author, raises a good question about these authors. He asks, “If you know how to write a bestseller, why aren’t you writing bestseller after bestseller? Why are you writing How-To books (or courses)?”

The bottom line is that there is no formula. What works for one type of book may not work for another type of book. Additionally, selling a general-market book is vastly different from selling a Christian book to a niche market. Selling a self-help book is vastly different from selling a Bible study book or a memoir.

So, how do you sell more books?

First, you have to write a compelling book. Second, you have to publish it with a professional-looking cover and interior layout design.

Then, you have to market the book. This is the tricky part. No single marketing technique is a surefire way to sell your book. Instead, you must use a variety of techniques that can include:

  • A launch team
  • Book reviews
  • Media exposure
  • Developing an audience
  • Connecting with influencers
  • Advertising

Just like my son’s game level, any book that sells well is due to a combination of factors including sometimes just being in the right place at the right time.

Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books

If you need marketing ideas for your Christian book, I encourage you to read my award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. As one reader said:

“Wow, this book provides so many marketing ideas that it would take years to implement them all. As I am reading, I am making a list of all the tasks I need to perform to improve my book sales.” —Susan

Remember, there is no marketing formula that guarantees success. You have to use a variety of marketing strategies to sell more books.

Related Posts:
Marketing is Murky
Are You Looking for a Formula?
Selling Books is Challenging

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Are You Using This to Build Your Author Platform?

To get published and sell books, you need a platform.

Most authors and aspiring authors have heard this message at least once, if not multiple times. But, what exactly defines a platform and how does one go about building one?This is the focus of the upcoming Learning Lab I will teach at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on July 26. This four-hour seminar, “Build Your Author Platform”, will teach attendees six manageable steps to build and grow an online author platform through content marketing.

Content marketing is simply sharing useful information that educates or inspires your target audience so that they begin to trust you and your message. You want people to trust you so that they, in turn, buy your books. After all, studies show that people do business with those they trust.

Brian Jud, president of Book Marketing Works and APSS, says:

“Repetition of your message is important to reach the decision-making tipping point. It may take up to ten “hits” on prospects to get them to buy.”

Using content to reach your audience provides repetition of your message and gains people’s trust.

Many authors feel that using content to market takes too much time and energy. In my seminar, I show authors how to create and repurpose content to save time and get the most out of every piece of content they create.

Repurposing content involves taking one piece of information and showcasing it in a number of different ways. This practice provides many benefits.

  1. It increases productivity and efficiency.

As an author, you have spent hours researching and writing your book. All your knowledge does not need to stay contained within the pages of your book. You can use the information you share in your book and break this down into smaller pieces to share on a regular basis through content marketing on the Internet.

  1. It expands your reach.

Sharing content and repurposing that content in a variety of formats spreads your message. The more places your content is listed, the more people will read and hear what you have to say. This way people are exposed to your message on the channels they prefer and in a way that speaks to them.

  1. It extends the life-cycle of your material.

Large amounts of data and information are uploaded to the Internet on a daily basis. With so much information, your target audience might miss what you are posting. Repurposing your content for multiple channels not only increases the changes that your audience will see it, it also allows your content to be made fresh in new formats, extending its life cycle.

  1. It increases your visibility.

This is a simple marketing principle. The more places your content appears, the more people are likely to see it. Visibility is extremely important in marketing books. The competition is stiff. Visibility allows you to stand out from the crowd.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use your content to market your books and expand your reach, I encourage you to attend my seminar on building an author platform at the upcoming Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Related Posts:
Are You Overlooking This Powerful Marketing Tool?
Market Your Christian Novel Like a Pro
Enhance Your Marketing With Bonus Content

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Photo courtesy of SGPhotography77.

Are You Showing Your Best Face?

Social media. Authors tend to love it or hate it.

Social media is a powerful way to connect with your readers. For many readers, getting to know the author of a book they love or relate to is natural. Once they have read the author’s book, they feel they already know that author on some level. Social media allows them to deepen that connection.

As an author, showing your personality on social media is important. This is easier for some authors than others. Authors who enjoy more privacy often find it difficult to let their personality shine in social media, while those that are more social find it easier.

A recent study by Sprout Social found that consumers want to see the following characteristics from the brands (and celebrities) that they follow on social media:

  • Honesty (86%)
  • Friendly (83%)
  • Helpful (78%)
  • Funny (72%)

What about you? Are you showing these four characteristics in your social media posts and interactions?

We live in a world where people crave authenticity. People want to know that you are “for real” and not a made-up persona. One of the best ways to demonstrate this to your readers is through showing your failures as well as your successes.

I know an aspiring author who has worked diligently to grow her platform on social media in hopes of getting a traditional publisher to sign a contract with her for her novel. This author understands how to show her personality.

One way she has recently connected with her audience is through chronicling her efforts to go from couch potato to running a 5K race. She has even encouraged her family members to join her in the challenge. This aspiring author regularly posts her ups and downs as she attempts to train herself to run three miles.

What about you? What can you share with your readers on social media to show them your authentic self?

Related Posts:
Is Social Media a Waste of Time?
How to Make Your Social Media Interactions More Fruitful
How to Effectively Use Social Media for Your Book

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Photo courtesy of Gratisography.

The Importance of Finding Your Niche

I recently spoke with a new Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) who has produced a book on forgiveness. We were speaking of the importance of knowing who the target audience is for his book.

This gentleman told me that all Christians were his audience. After all, every Christian needs to forgive since it is commanded in the Bible.

I wholeheartedly agree. Every Christian does need to forgive. However, not every Christian currently needs information or help with forgiveness and some are not yet ready to entertain the idea of forgiving. Additionally, this author’s voice will not resonate with everyone.

As more and more books are published, competition escalates. For example, doing a search of “forgiveness” in books on Amazon reveals 31,399 results. That is a lot of books on forgiveness that Christians have to choose from.

How does this author compete with 31,399 other titles on forgiveness? He competes by targeting a niche audience. Through channeling his message to a very targeted audience that his book speaks to—and not broadly to all Christians—this author can gain some attention for his book.

How can this author funnel his message to a more niche market? I encouraged him to consider the following:

  1. What is his backstory? In other words, what did he need to forgive that prompted him to write the book. Maybe it was a spousal affair or a senseless random act of violence. Whatever the reason, targeting Christians who have had a similar experience is one way to reach a niche audience.
  2. How is the message in his book different from other books on forgiveness? One thing this gentleman included in his book was 21 ways to forgive. I suggested that he use this to find a niche audience. He could speak to Christians who know they need to forgive, but don’t know how. After all, he provides the how in his book.

With any book that has a broad topic appeal such as prayer, parenting, forgiveness, etc., targeting the niche audience is done through the marketing messaging. A generic message on forgiveness is not going to attract much attention, but a message targeted toward those who have experienced a senseless act of violence or who need help on practical ways they can work on forgiveness will resonate with the niche audience and draw them in.

I encourage you to identify niche audiences for your books. Then target your messages to these groups of people to maximize your marketing efforts.

Related Posts:
Micro-Target to Get Results
Get to Know Your Target Audience
What Your Readers Want

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Photo courtesy of Masha Danilova