Can This One Little Word Help You Sell More Books?

Every marketer must overcome obstacles to making a sale. People don’t readily part with their money unless they are convinced to do so. In his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman’s states that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.

95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.

Other research has shown that people make purchases on their emotions even though they think they are making a logical choice. Humans are driven by feelings. In order to get people to engage with you and your book, you must appeal to their emotions.

If you are only marketing the attributes of your book, your sales results may end up being lackluster. If, instead, you combine the attributes of your book with appealing to a reader’s emotions, you can have greater success with your book sales.

One way to appeal to people’s emotions is to give them a reason to act. In 1978, three Professors of Psychology at Harvard, published a research study about the power of the word “because“.

The professors had research participants request to break in on a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine on a college campus. The researchers had the people use three different, carefully worded requests to break in line:

  • Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
  • “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”

Interestingly, the first phrase achieved 60% compliance with the request. The second and third phrases achieved 93% and 94% compliance. The researchers concluded that using the word “because” and giving a reason resulted in significantly more compliance.

Gregory Ciotti of copyblogger says that certain words hold more sway over our decision-making process than others. “Because” appears to be one of those words. Other words that have power in helping people make a decision to purchase are:

  • You
  • Free
  • Instantly
  • New

If you want to improve your book sales and persuade people to buy your book, try using the word “because”. In other words, give them a compelling reason to part with their money in exchange for a copy of your book.

Related Posts:
A Call to Action with Consequences
Sales Text that Sells
Two Strategies for Creating Effective Marketing Messages

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Photo courtesy of aykapog.

How’s That Working for You?

“How’s that working for you?” This little, yet powerful question was made popular by Phillip McGraw, of the Dr. Phil show.

Let me ask it of you, author. When it comes to social media, “How’s that working for you?”

How's That Working for You?

When I consult with authors, I frequently hear this phrase—or one similar:

“I’m on Facebook. I have a lot of followers. They like and comment on what I post, but people aren’t buying my book.”

In fact, studies show that, on average, 53% of people who follow brands (businesses) on social media don’t buy anything from them at all. They just want the content (the information) the brand shares.

Authors hear “build a platform” and jump into social media trying to gain an audience. Often, they gain followers, but get frustrated when they don’t see these followers convert to book sales.

One reason for this is that people are not in a buying frame of mind when they are browsing social media. It is much easier to sell someone a book or product when they are already “shopping”. Someone who is engaged in the shopping process is much easier to persuade to buy something than someone who is not thinking about buying a book or product.

This does not mean that you can’t or won’t ever sell a book to someone via social media, it just means that it is harder. This is why I tell authors to not just use one tool (social media) to market their books.

Social Media is not your only marketing tool.

Instead, social media should be used in conjunction with other marketing tools like:

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is about giving your audience useful information that has value for them. It is information that your target audience is thirsty for. It’s about creating blogs, articles, video, and audio that provides valuable information and insight for your audience. One study showed that 7 out of 10 consumers would rather learn about a product or company from interesting content than from an ad.

2. Email Marketing

Email is more effective at reaching consumers than social media. Emails prompt purchases at a rate of at least three times that of social media. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message. When people like the content you are creating, they will give you their email address in exchange for receiving more content directly. This gives you the opportunity to market your books directly to a group of interested people.

3. Media Interviews and Speaking Engagements

Speaking is one of the best ways to sell books because people buy books from authors they know and trust. Speaking to a group of people develops that trust and allows an audience to get to know you. Media interviews work similarly. After people hear you on the radio or a podcast, they feel they know you and are more likely to purchase your books.

Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

I will be teaching four continuing sessions on “You CAN Indie Publish & Market Your Book” at the upcoming Great Philly Christian Writers Conference in August. This seminar focuses both on how to publish your book as well as how to begin marketing your book—using more than social media. I invite you to attend the conference and get the information and knowledge you need to successfully publish and promote your books.

Related Posts:
Not Everyone Uses Social Media
Are You Using the Right Social Media Channel?
How to Improve Your Social Media Success

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This Phrase Can Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

I hear and see this phrase more than I should. Indie authors with great intentions who are enthusiastic about promoting their books often say the phrase.

Sadly, what these authors don’t understand is that this one little phrase can ruin their book marketing efforts. This statement does not destroy all book marketing efforts, only those geared toward retail book buyers (a.k.a. bookstores) and librarians.

Don't Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

Don’t say this phrase. Really, there is never a need to say this phrase. It is not even necessary with readers. Don’t ruin your marketing efforts by saying,

My book is available on Amazon.

If you are attempting to sell your book to a bookstore, or even just trying to get a local bookstore to allow you to conduct a book signing, this simple phrase ruins your chances with the bookstore. Book buyers will not carry your book or host a book signing for you if you say this phrase.

Here is why:

1. Amazon is a bookstore.

Yes, you can “publish” your book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). You can even request expanded distribution through the platform. However, Amazon is not a distributor, it is a bookstore.

As a bookstore, Amazon is in direct competition with any bookstore that you approach or try to get to sell your book. Brick-and-mortar bookstores have struggled due to Amazon’s stranglehold on book sales. Mentioning that your book is available on Amazon turns a retailer off. It’s like saying “You can buy my book at Target.” Bookstores don’t purchase books from other bookstores.

Available on Amazon

2. You show your ignorance.

I don’t mean to be rude; I am just trying to help. If you say to a bookstore buyer—whether in person or in an advertisement—“My book is available on Amazon”, the buyer immediately knows that you are a self-published author who does not understand the book industry.

Self-published authors and indie authors have sported a bad reputation for years. This is because there is a glut of poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly designed self-published books. In recent years, the stigma of self-publishing has been greatly diminished. However, it still lurks in the shadows. The phrase, “My book is available on Amazon”, causes the beast to come forth.

3. Every book is available on Amazon.

“Every” may be a slight exaggeration, but at least 99% of all books published are available on Amazon. KDP is not the only way to get your book on Amazon. Every publisher makes sure their books are available through Amazon. Publishers know that Amazon commands 50% of all print book sales. So, to harvest the most sales, all publishers make their books available for sale on Amazon.

There really is never a need to make a big deal of your book being available on Amazon—not for readers, not for librarians, and especially not for retailers.

For the most part, readers just assume that any book they hear about will be available where they shop. If they shop on Amazon, that is where they will look for the book. If they shop at Christianbook.com, that is where they will look for the book. Readers that shop at their local brick-and-mortar bookstore will assume your book is available there. Often, they will be surprised that the retailer does not have it in stock. However, if your book is in distribution, they can just ask the store to order it for them.

Related Posts:
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
Christian Retail Is Not Dead
Amazon: King of Book Sales

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Photo courtesy of Angelo_Giordano.

Awareness Is Always the First Step

“Have you tried Topgolf?”, my friend asked. I had not even heard of the place until she mentioned it.

It turns out that Topgolf is a popular new game. Players rent a bay in what resembles a driving range to play a golf game. Players score points by hitting micro-chipped golf balls at giant targets in a field. Points are scored based on the distance of the target and how close the ball is to the bulls-eye of the target.

Awareness is the first step

Until someone asked me about it, I was blissfully unaware that Topgolf existed. Now I know. Now I have one more place I can choose to spend my leisure dollars.

Awareness is always the first step in a buyer’s journey. After all, I can’t buy something I don’t know exists.

Eugene Schwartz, an advertising specialist, described five levels of awareness that buyers journey through in his book Breakthrough Advertising. The five levels are:

  1. Unaware: Buyers don’t know your product or service exists, or that they have a need for it.
  2. Problem aware: Buyers are aware they have a problem, but they don’t know the solutions.
  3. Solution aware: Buyers are aware of some solutions to their problem, but are not aware of your specific solution.
  4. Product aware: Buyers have become aware of your product, but they have not bought it yet.
  5. Most aware: Buyers who have purchased and used your product.

I traveled through these five steps with Topgolf.

  1. Unaware: I did not even know that Topgolf existed.
  2. Problem aware: I needed a fun local activity for my son and his friends during Spring break.
  3. Solution aware: I knew of a couple things we could do, but wanted more options.
  4. Product aware: A friend mentioned Topgolf, so I checked it out since my son enjoys golf.
  5. Most aware: We rented a bay at Topgolf over Spring break and played a couple games. It was fun. We may do it again.

This first step in a buyer’s journey is your marketing challenge. Making people aware of your books and how they solve a problem for buyers is the goal of your marketing activities.

Exposure is key. Word-of-mouth is your best tool for raising awareness. Get people talking about your books and people will become aware they exist.

Offering free review copies of your book and giving away your book to key influencers is powerful and drives word-of-mouth. Don’t skimp on this step of your marketing plan. Give books away and watch the Biblical principle of “give and it will be given to you” play out.

Related Posts:
Awareness Is Not Enough
How Readers Choose Books
Start With Why Not What

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Your Next Big Break

Your big break—that media interview, that stellar endorsement, an influencer willing to work with you, a large book order, that awesome speaking engagement—might be right around the corner. You never know when it will happen… but I can guarantee it won’t happen if you don’t plant seeds.

To harvest fruit, you must first plant seeds. All your marketing efforts—both small and large—are seeds you are planting.

Marketing is planting seeds

I have sent out scores of press releases. Many never get a response. Not too long ago, I sent out another press release to the media. I really wasn’t anticipating much from it. After all, I know that press releases are about planting seeds and watering those seeds.

A few weeks later, I received an email. It said:

I am doing a story on indie publishing in the Christian market. I’ll talk to a number of sources for the story, and would love to include you and the newly named CIPA.

An interview was scheduled. A conversation took place. Then, an article was published. I was quoted in the article.

Not a big break, but a nice one that brought more exposure. You can read the article here.

Too many authors are “one and done”. They try something once. When they don’t get the result they expected, they decide that the marketing technique did not work and don’t try it again.

In marketing, “one and done” will kill your efforts. No farmer plants one seed and expects a good crop. Farmers do not know which seeds will germinate or which seeds will lie fallow or end up getting eaten. So, they plant many, many seeds, sometimes overseeding so they can ensure a crop.

Wise King Solomon knew this principle. He said:

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.

writing at night

In book marketing language, this statement reads:

In the morning conduct your marketing activities, and at evening don’t think you are done, because you do not know which activity will succeed, whether one or the other, or if all of them will be equally good.

You can’t have a big break unless you are constantly pursuing opportunities. So, keep doing marketing activities like:

  • Sending out those press releases.
  • Pitching for interviews.
  • Asking for those endorsements.
  • Pursuing those speaking engagements.
  • Seeking collaboration with other authors.
  • Showing up day in, day out on social media adding value to other’s lives.

And remember that God is the Lord of the Harvest. Your success rests in his hands. Trust him.

Related Posts:
10 Daily Book Marketing Activities
Effective Marketing to a Declining Reading Populace
Overcoming Roadblocks to Marketing

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Photo courtesy of Dương Trí and Bruce Mars.