Did you know that the average self-published book sells about 200 copies?
You’re an author and dialed into the world of books, so you probably did know that. But you didn’t know that most of those authors sabotage their own sales, did you? The thing is, that sabotage has nothing to do with the quality of the final product. It’s all about the attitude they adopt once that Kindle hits the Amazon digital shelves, or that box of freshly printed paperbacks arrives at their door still smelling of toner. With the best of intentions and hope in their hearts, they set out to find readers for their work, but they cut their own throats with some variation on this simple nine-word phrase:
“People are going to be excited about my book.”
We hate to break it to you, but no, they’re not.
Sure, your friends, family members and the folks in your writer’s group will be all up in your business to get a copy and post enthusiastic reviews on Amazon. But unless you’ve built up a loyal readership from a previous book, nobody else is likely to care. That’s not your fault. There are a LOT of books competing for eyeballs. Being an author is a thousand times more competitive than most writers realize. Many don’t even think of themselves as being in a competitive field in the first place! But the harsh truth is, if you can’t compete for readers’ interest and attention, you won’t sell books.
We’ve seen it hundreds of times: new authors so certain that their books are going to set the world on fire that they don’t even do basic marketing or branding, like launching a nice looking website. Armed with that misplaced optimism, they set their books free on Amazon like baby birds leaving the nest…and the books fall to the ground and die in the hot sun. Sales Rank: 2,000,000. Oops.
Don’t be that author. If you want to give yourself a better chance of selling more books, change how you think about the task of selling books and reaching readers.
Ditch that blind optimism and gird yourself for battle.
Be proud of your work, but don’t delude yourself into believing that anyone outside your current circle (including your Facebook friends) cares about buying it. Instead, remember this phrase:
“No one cares about my book, but I’m going to make them care.”
Book-selling is the art and science of figuring out who your ideal readers are, learning what they care about, and then reaching out to them again and again in ways that pique their interest about you and your work. That takes time and persistence, but most of all, it takes understanding that you don’t have a right to readers.
You have to earn readers. You need a platform, a great brand, an execution plan, a lot of patience, and doggedness. If you have those qualities and really connect with your readers to earn their loyalty, you’ll build an audience for your work for the next 20 years.
Note from Kiffer Brown
Tim Vandehey and Naren Aryal are the co-authors of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of Building a Killer Author Platform, and the founders of BeastSellers.com, which helps authors build powerful marketing platforms and winning brands.