4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

This summer, I was introduced to an author and his book on spiritual discernment through an article in an online news outlet. The article featured the author and the topic of the book caught my attention. The article did not include the title of the book. Rather, it was a story about the author with the article mentioning that he was the author of a recently released book on spiritual discernment.

4 Lessons from a Book Purchase

I noted the author’s name and decided to check out his book. In my research, I discovered that this author has actually penned a number of books.

Lesson #1: Media exposure sells books.

With my interest piqued, I went to Amazon to check out the author. Amazon was the logical place for me to look first since that website features just about every book published.

The book’s page on Amazon revealed that the book had over 350 reviews with an average rating of 4.8 stars. I was interested in the topic and was convinced that the book would be worth my time and money when I saw the reviews.

Lesson #2:  Positive reviews, especially a large number of positive reviews, sells books.

I bought the book on Amazon. It was just convenient. I could bundle it with other purchases and get free shipping (I am not a Prime Member). When the book arrived, I was excited to read it—and I did.

It was a good book. I enjoyed it. It was an easy read. The chapters were short and the book was only about 100 pages. When I got to the end, I realized the book was only 100 pages. I was a little disappointed that it had cost as much as it did. The book’s retail price is $14.95, but Amazon sells it for about $13.00. This price seems a little steep for a 100-page book.

I realized that I had not paid much attention to the number of pages in the book when I purchased it. Rather, the description and reviews had convinced me that the book was worth buying and reading.

Lesson #3:  Price is not typically a deciding factor in book purchases—unless the book is priced unusually high.

At the end of the book, I realized how this author had been able to accumulate over 350 positive reviews in a short period of time. The book was released in January, and I purchased it six months later. The author had used a launch team.

This book had something that I have not seen before. At the very end of the book, the last six (yes, six) pages of the book were dedicated to “Special Thanks to Our Launch Team”. I counted the names on just one page and counted about 120 names. If you multiply 120 times six pages, you get a launch team of about 720 people.

This author had around 720 people talking about and writing positive reviews for his book when it launched. That is truly impressive.

Lesson #4:  Launch teams (a.k.a. Street teams) help make books successful.

If you are unfamiliar with what a Launch Team is or how to go about gathering and using one. I recommend that you join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and download our reference guide on Book Launch Teams. This guide covers recruiting a team, communicating with your team, promotional activities for our launch team, and rewarding your team.

Christian Indie Publishing Association’s (CIPA) Book Launch Team Guide is just one of the many resources Members of the Association have access to. You can join CIPA on our website at https://www.christianpublishers.net and have access to this Guide and many more.

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Do You Want to Sell More Books?

Do you want to sell more books?

1,416,384

This is the number of print books that were self-published in 2018.

91.5%

This is the percentage of those self-published print books that were published through Amazon’s KDP.

Amazon is huge. It is a dominant factor in the book-selling industry. However, it is not the only place books are sold. Currently, the breakdown of print books purchased online versus in physical stores is:

  • 34% of print books purchased in stores.
  • 66% of print books purchased online.

Amazon is not the only book seller in town (or state, or country, or world). If you are an independent author who has published through KDP, you are probably missing out on sales. In fact, you may only be selling half as many books as you could be selling.

The major publishers—those companies whose business is to sell books for profit—do not get all their sales from Amazon. In fact, here the breakdown for where major publishers sell their print books is:

  • 50% Amazon
  • 25% Libraries and specialty accounts
  • 17% Barnes & Noble
  • 8% Independent bookstores

Sales Breakdown

Only half of all print book sales for major publishers comes from Amazon. So, if you are only selling your books on Amazon, you are missing out on sales.

If you want to sell more books, here are some suggestions:

1.  Sell your book through multiple channels.

Not everyone shops on Amazon. If half of the major publishers print book sales come from other channels (both online and physical), then you are missing out on sales by exclusively selling your book through Amazon.

2.  Think outside the box.

One-fourth of the major publishers print book sales comes from library and specialty accounts. While you may have some difficulty getting libraries to pick up your book as an independent author, thinks about specialty stores. There are thousands upon thousands of gift stores in the United States. What type of gift, museum, or novelty shop might your book be a good fit for? Pursue these type of stores (both online and physical) for selling your book.

3.  Do more in-person events.

People buy books from authors they know, like, and trust. The quickest way to get people to know, then like and trust you is to do an in-person event. This could be a book signing, an author reading, a seminar, or other speaking engagement. These types of events allow you to sell your books during or after the event, increasing your sales.

4.  Pursue media coverage.

The number one reason people buy a book is because they are familiar with the author. People cannot become familiar with you unless they have exposure to you. One great way to expose yourself to people is through an interview on a radio or podcast show.

If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest that you join Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and download our list of over 80 radio and podcast outlets interviewing authors. The list is a steal of a deal and worth more than the Association’s annual dues.

If you need help in knowing how best to approach radio and podcast hosts to request an interview, Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) can also help with that. After you become a Member, you can download our Reference Guides on Media Pitches and Media Interviews to learn what to do to be a successful media guest.

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Photo courtesy of Goumbik.

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.

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How to Sell More Books

I have never met an author who did not want to sell more books.

I recently presented at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where I spoke with many authors. One author I spoke with told me that she had been published by a traditional publisher, but then, she decided to self-publish a book.

sell-more

This author told me that the first book she published did not sell well because she did nothing to promote it. When she published her second book, she decided to get serious about promoting and marketing the book. Much to her surprise, as she promoted her second book, she not only sold copies of that book, but sales for her first book began to pick up.

Zig Ziglar said, “If people trust you, they will do business with you.” That is what you develop with a book: Trust with your audience. If you get your readers to trust you with one book, they will read your other books as well. Repeat customers are your best business. Get a reader hooked, and they will buy all your books.

For this technique to work best, you must publish your books under a brand. Publishing multiple books on widely disparate topics won’t help you sell more books.

The author whose second book helped sell more of her first book wrote books geared toward women. The first book was about healing from brokenness and the second book was about forgiveness. Both these books have the same audience—women—and they build on each other. A broken woman needs to forgive those that contributed to her brokenness.

You, too, can use this technique to sell more books. Simply publish more books. If you have written a book for children, write another one. If you published a young adult novel, write another one. If you wrote a book on parenting, write another one on another aspect of parenting. If you published a devotional, publish another one.

Build trust with your audience. One book can easily build trust, but if you don’t have another book for your audience to purchase, you lose out. After all, 80% of most business will come from your repeat customers—people who have come to know and trust you and what you offer.

You can sell more books. One usually surefire technique is to publish more books and promote them!

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