As a self-published author, your sales success depends on your sales philosophy, education, and the tools you have at your disposal. While you can’t always control the tools at your disposal you can control your beliefs and training. That’s where best-selling authors have the most impact. That’s where we’re going to start.
Your philosophy about sales impacts the “why” and “how” of your sales. Your early life experiences and media create a set of “rules” about sales. These “rules” guide your actions your selling behavior. Did you grow up believing that salesmen were suspicious and not trustworthy? Your sales strategies will be different from a person who loved the selling process.
This post takes a particular look at the myths that can sabotage your sales as a self-published author. No matter what you believe, many of still us still hold onto unrealistic ideas about the world of self-publishing.
Let’s start dispelling some myths…
5 Myths that Keep You From Best-Selling Author Status
1. Sales Myth 1: If I write a good book, the readers will come
This sales myth is rampant among every type of author. Even if we know better, we still assume (consciously or unconsciously) that our book is “special”, that it will beat the odds.
The truth is, most books don’t. Yours probably won’t.
Every author, whether you have a publishing contract or not, needs to build a marketing platform for to promote their brand and their book. Without that platform, you will face a surprisingly steep uphill battle to get readers. Posting a few “buy my book now” Tweets or Facebook posts sporadically won’t cut it.
Instead, market your books like McDonald’s. They don’t stop advertising because people are coming in the restaurant. Their consistent marketing schedule keeps them at the top of a customer’s mind.
Myth-Busting Tip: Review your “marketing”. Take a look at everything you’ve built to promote your author’s brand and book. This includes social media profiles, your website, your book’s sales page, etc.. Ask yourself two question about: What do I want the reader to do here? Are readers actually doing what I intended hem to do?
2. Sales Myth #2: The only feedback I need is an Amazon Review
Reviews are very (emphasis on the very) important, but writers can become too obsessed with them and miss them. More reviews don’t always equal more money. Getting a lot of reviews can increase your Amazon SalesRank (Amazon’s estimate of your sales & book page activity) and help nudge readers to consider your book. It does not guarantee a sale.
Myth-busting tip: Measure and test everything in your marketing arsenal. Amazon reviews, while important, are only one type of feedback an author should focus on. Authors should collect and leverage feedback through their entire writer’s journey including beta readers, writing groups, mentors, book clubs, bookstore shelves (spy on what’s popular), Google search data, your own website data, editors, social media statistics, etc.
3. Sales Myth #3: People want my book
Is your book a “must have” or a “nice to have”?
People can live without your book and do just fine. That’s why you’ll have to convince them to need your book.
The first step in the process is a good book. The second step is a crowd.
Authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, are successful because they contributed value to a specific group of people (their crowd). As readers gained more value out of reading the work of Rowling and King, their perception of the book changed. The “nice-to-have” book became an “I-must-read-the next one” book.
Myth-busting tip: Realize that your future readers don’t need your book (at least not right now). It’s your job to prove, through your marketing and sales strategies, why they would want your book. As you continue to offer value, that “want” transforms into a need.
4. Sales Myth #4: I have to be really “self-promotional” to sell my book
Many authors are consciously or subconsciously turned off by marketing because it feels “dirty” or “wrong”. “I’m a writer”, you might say to yourself, “I’m not selling a used car or jewelry on QVC”.
This belief undermines your entire sales platform.
Myth-busting Tip: Change your perception marketing, sales, or promotion. Realize there are only two things you have to promote, you and your book. Be authentic. Share your work and move on. Readers won’t always respond when you want them to, but they won’t ever respond if you don’t get the word out.
5. Sales Myth #5: I don’t need to write another book
What’s the next thing you’re going to do? Look for another one.
Now imagine that you go back to the store and can’t find a trace of it. The clerk doesn’t know when or if they’ll receive any more.
This is the pain a bookworm feels after they come across a good book. Once they find a good book, they want more from that authors.
Many authors, however, who have good books and a growing fan base, may decide to sit on their laurels for a little while after they publish a book.
Myth-busting Tip: The moment you publish a good book (or even before), consider starting the next one. Why? If you want to build a crowd of fans, you have to feed them, especially if you’re a fiction author. As I mentioned above, you have to continually offer value to keep your fans interested and loyal. Otherwise, they will keep looking until they find someone else to fulfill their need. Want to take a break between books? Continue to communicate with your readers so they will stay committed to you.
Concluding Thoughts: Sell Your Book, Market Your Dream
Whether you realize it or not, we all have assumptions about sales. These assumptions shape how we approach selling as a self-published author. When we neglect to examine these assumptions, we end up running on auto-pilot. As a result, we undermine our sales goals, whether it’s neglecting to schedule marketing time or not engaging on social media because we think it’s a waste of time. We have to challenge these assumptions to see if they really are serving us. If these assumptions aren’t serving us, we should drop them and pick up new habits that will take us where we need to go.