What Authors Can Learn from Shopping Behaviors

I love to shop. For the most part, I prefer shopping in physical stores where I can not only see what I am purchasing, but I can touch and feel it also. I know many people prefer to shop online. While not everyone shops the same way, there are a few similarities overall among people’s shopping preferences.

A new study by Catalyst, a marketing agency specializing in retail, explored consumer-shopping behaviors across multiple channels. Their research found that most customers prefer convenience over other factors when shopping. Here are a few of the findings from Catalyst’s study:

  • Convenience Is Paramount
    Amazon wins when it comes to convenience. Most customers prefer researching and buying products online.
  • Efficiency Matters
    Customers look for what saves them time. If it is not readily available to order or purchase, or if shipping is not fast, customers will walk away from a purchase.
  • Price Matters—but Quality Matters More
    Customers want the best quality for the lowest price. They are willing to pay more for a product when convenience and customer service are perceived to be superior.

There are a few nuggets of wisdom for authors in this study and its findings. Here are two lessons from this study that can help you sell more books.

1. Your books must be available in multiple channels for buyers to purchase.

Believe it or not, not everyone shops on Amazon. Your book needs to be available for purchase (and quick delivery) at the places where your readers shop. Having your book available for purchase on Amazon and your website is not enough. Make sure your books are in wider distribution so that they are conveniently available to more people.

2. Your book’s price affects sales.

One of the best rules to follow when independently publishing a book is simply this: Follow the industry standard. When pricing your book, this means that your book is priced in the same range as other books in its genre that are published by the large industry publishing houses.

Since print-on-demand is more expensive per book than offset printing (printing large numbers of books at once of 1,000 or more copies), independently published authors often price their books higher than industry standard. Pricing high allows the author to make a decent return on each book sold. However, pricing your book higher than other books in your genre can result in a loss of sales. Remember, people are looking for the best quality at the lowest price. If a reader is considering purchasing your book or another book on the same topic, if the books appear equal in quality, the reader will opt for the lower-priced book.

Book buyers are shoppers and they, like most consumers, prefer convenience, efficiency, and good deals.

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Bigger is Not Necessarily Better

The bigger the better. That’s our mindset.

Go to a fast food restaurant and you are frequently asked if you want to “supersize” your meal. We are usually looking to acquire bigger cars, bigger houses, and bigger paychecks.

slow-and-steady

Authors can easily fall into this mindset. We want to sell our books to the crowds. The bigger the audience the better. We can get so caught up in gathering a large audience, that we end up neglecting to convert the people in our audience to buyers.

Most people assume that larger audiences equate to more sales. This is the mindset of most traditional publishing houses today. The questions editors ask most aspiring authors are “How big is your audience?” and “What is your platform?”

A friend of mine blogs on virtues and skills of manliness. He has done a fantastic job of growing his audience through networking and cross-promotion with other bloggers speaking to men. As a result, a publishing house approached him about writing a book on ways to use pocket knives. The book was not his idea, it was the brainchild of the publishing house. They were simply looking for someone with an audience to write the book. That way, the publisher would be assured of sales because the author already had an audience to promote the book to.

Many people independently publish a book because—rather than having a large audience to sell the book to—they have a message or story they believe in. Yet, after the book is published, these same authors can get so caught up in seeking a large audience that they fail to really connect with their audience. As a result, their sales remain dismal.

Recently, thought leader Seth Godin did a short article on “How to be heard” on his blog. One of the statements he made was “Convert six people before you try to convert sixty.” This is excellent advice.

If you are struggling to be heard, if you are struggling to sell your books, follow this great advice. Focus on a few. Work on convincing the few people you already have in your circle to believe your message and buy your book before you try to persuade the masses.

In our immediate gratification culture, the concept of building your audience a little at a time seems counter intuitive. Yet, slow and steady usually gets that job done. Go for better, rather than bigger.

Related Posts:
Selling Books in an Overcrowded Market
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Photo Courtesy of Providence Doucet