Three Challenges in Selling Books

Selling books is challenging. A challenge is something that requires special effort. Special effort is required to sell your books.

Challenges in Selling Books

The book selling climate is fiercely competitive. Every author must meet and overcome the following three challenges to sell books.

1. Attention

In today’s economy, attention is a valuable commodity. People have numerous entertainment options all clamoring for their attention: social media, movies, television, podcasts, sports, hobbies… and the list goes on. Reading faces stiff competition for attention from other entertainment activities.

Every author faces the challenge of hooking an audience into noticing their books. Catching people’s attention is becoming more and more challenging. With over 4,200 books published every day in the United States, even avid readers have a vast array of books they can pay attention to.

2. Time

Twenty-first century life is busy. Between work, family, church, and other activities, people have less time to devote to leisure activities like reading.

In fact, a recent study found that people spent 9% less time reading in 2019 than they did in 2018. Time is a precious asset. More and more, people are spending bite-sized minutes on content. For example, Facebook users spend an average of 2.5 seconds on any given piece of content.

3. Declining Readership

The number of people who do not read a single book in a given year is growing. In 1978, that figure was 8%. In other words, only 8 out of every 100 people did not read a book during the year. Now that number is closer to 25%. This means that one out of every four people in the United States did not read a book last year.

Woman reading

In addition, readership for Christian books is declining. Only 49% of the largest consumer group in America—the Millennials—identify as “Christian.” In the past decade, the percentage of all Americans who identify as “Christian” has dropped from 77% to 65%. The upshot is that the number of people in the target audience for any given Christian book is shrinking.

Overcoming these Challenges

The good news is that these challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, religious books have been selling well over the past five years. Following are three suggestions to help you overcome each of these challenges.

1. Increase your Familiarity Factor

The number one reason people buy a book is because they are familiar with the author. The best way to grab attention is by being known. Become known by writing and publishing multiple books. Those people who read one of your books and like it will go on and read your other books, helping you sell more books.

2. Shorter is Better

Time is tight for most people. As a result, we are consuming content in bite-sized chunks. Write to accommodate this new way of reading. Use shorter chapters that can be finished in a few minutes. Also keep your paragraphs short so that readers don’t become overwhelmed when viewing a page. Remember, most people are going to read your book in spurts using short chunks of time.

3. Become Irresistible

Write and publish a compelling book. Your book should not just be good. It should be “too good to not read.” When people feel they are missing out on something good, they will make time for it. Make your book so good that people won’t want to miss out.

Related Posts:
Author: Are You Doing These Marketing Activities?
Selling Books is Challenging
Your Christian Book is Crucial!

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

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.

Related Posts:
Do You Know What it Takes to Sell a Book?
How to Get a Book into a Christian Bookstore
The Most Important Equations

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Freestocks.org

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
The Key to Selling Books
A Lesson in Selling Books

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo Courtesy of Providence Doucet