Where Professionals Publish

Why it’s So Stinking Hard to Sell Books: Author Marketing Report Part 2

This is a continuation from yesterday’s blog post on why it’s so hard to sell books and what you can do about it…Why it’s So Stinking Hard to Sell Books: Author Marketing Report Part 1

Freebies – There is a growing trend of book give-aways happening online, particularly with Kindle ebooks, due to Amazon’s KDP Select program. Amazon requires participants to give Amazon exclusive rights to ebook distribution for 90 days, preventing ebooks from being distributed to Apple, BN.com, etc. In return, Amazon makes the ebook available in their lending library, paying authors a percentage of fees allocated, and also allows authors to initiate free ebook give-away promotions. I’ve heard reports from authors who have given away hundreds and thousands of books as a result of one of these promotions so it may be worth a test drive (though for the record I’m not a fan of Amazon’s demand to provide exclusive distribution rights). This article from the NY Times reveals how book give-aways can attract readers and spark word of mouth. The hope is that for every book given away, another is sold. And you can hold your own give-away campaigns via social media and your online networks. Also check out Pay With a Tweet, a free service that will set up a shopping cart button for your site to deliver your ebook in exchange for a tweet or mention on Facebook!

Packaging – The fact is that we do judge a book by its cover so what your book looks like matters. What’s more important, especially for self-published authors, is that you book doesn’t look like it was self-published. You should have a distinctive cover design, comprehensive editing by a pro, and a professional interior layout. If any of these elements are missing, readers will notice.

Initial Exposure – If a potential reader has never heard of your book, odds are they aren’t going to just stumble across it on Amazon. With millions of book titles in circulation, competition is fierce. No matter who publishes your book, it’s up to you as the author to promote the hell out of it. This is where authors get frustrated. You probably have a day job and a family and a life. Who has time to promote a book on top of everything else? But you need to find a way to build in promotion time or hire someone to help with marketing, otherwise the unfortunate reality is that you’ll be lucky to sell 50 copies per year.

Repeat Exposure – There’s an old rule of thumb in the marketing world: a consumer must be exposed to a product six to eight times before making a decision to buy. That’s why big companies advertise in multiple mediums: billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio and tv ads, social media, etc. I realize that it’s hard enough to do the marketing to get your book seen once by a potential reader, let alone repeatedly, but I encourage authors to think bigger. How can you get PR exposure, social media buzz, reviews, article contributions, and all of the other strategies that lead to consumers seeing your book mentioned more than once?

What All of This Means for Authors

I didn’t write this post to further depress or frustrate authors, but to show the reality of this difficult business. More importantly, I want to emphasize the importance of ongoing, consistent marketing efforts to get your book in front of your target audience. Considering the factors above, it can feel like a big mountain to climb. But it can be quite rewarding when those efforts start to pay off so don’t get discouraged or give up. Sure there’s a lot of competition out there, but the vast majority of those authors aren’t doing the work needed—leaving room for those who do to make an impact.

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