Have you already found out that a book doesn’t sell itself? This can be a deciding factor in choosing between a traditional publisher or self publishing. However, it’s not as much of a contradiction as it seems. Even if you land a contract with a well-known publisher (even one of the very best), they won’t do much for the marketing and sales for your book unless it already sells well. So either way, you’d have to put some effort in yourself. If you want to attract more readers, that is. But beware: this blog is not a quick fix, rather to set you on a path that will help you in any situation.
Selling can be fun
In the ten years that I have sold books as a Dutch self publishing author, I have learnt that sales is not cold. And if it is to you, you might very well find yourself struggle. The whole concept of trying to sell books is actually rather strange to an author: you probably just want to write your book, maybe do signings in bookstores and read lofty reviews. But without having to actively sell the book yourself. It is so different from the artistic part of our brain and for many not fun to deal with.
But it can be. And I think it should be. It will make it easier to get your book into the hands of readers and will leave you happier and less burdened. One of the things that has really helped me is 1) to take the pressure off of “having to sell” and 2) to look for what readers like and talk about it a lot to get them excited. This trickles down to every level: your facebook page, your mailing list and at book fairs.
I usually greet people in real life in bookish settings with “do you like reading?” And I used to follow up with “what genre?” and then nothing, except maybe an early offer, because I wanted to sell and not really have a meaningful conversation. Now I would suggest asking “what do you like most about reading/this particular book?”. The person in front of you can probably answer this (otherwise provide examples of likability of your own work).
You can go into more detail and get them excited and if you see there’s a lot of overlap with what this reader likes and your work, you can make an offer. Maybe they’re interested in reading what your book is about, maybe you can get them to subscribe to your newsletter and read the whole first chapter etc. It need only be a small opportunity to move the conversation towards your book. Don’t jump to the one time sale, but invest in the relation with readers. They can do much for you, even if it’s not buying the next book (altough that is still possible), like leaving a review and talking about it with others.
Sell vs Experience
What do you think of this principle? Is it hard to let go of your want to sell? Then maybe you can shift your thoughts from selfish to serving with this: you probably become happy when a reader tells you (s)he liked your book. Then try and aim for a great experience for the reader, with your story and your communication around it. When you got someone really excited, all there’s left to do it simply provide buying options, without pushing yourself. Instead, you’re only providing what the reader already wants.
Do you think you would benefit from Annemiek’s advice in an online coaching session? Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your most pressing concern(s) and your desire to get guidance. The first session is free, potential following sessions cost €40,- (no VAT) an hour. You’re welcome to leave a comment for smaller questions and see them answered.
Did you enjoy this article? Then you might be interested in rookie mistakes part one