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How To Sell More Books
& Get Your Publisher Active
It is an unfortunate reality that most people who write books believe that their publisher will always put their best foot forward, to promote their book. In the real world, it does not quite work that way.
Let me put this in perspective for you.
THE PROFIT-LOSS EQUATION IN BOOK PUBLISHING
It is a financial matter of profits and losses. The book publishing world is much different than what many of us believe it is or that we believe it should be.
The average publisher will only print 1,000 copies of a book. They do this because the average book will sell an average of 400 or 500 copies.
When a publisher takes on a new title, it is a real gamble. Publishers are gambling that the books they take on will generate sales of 1,000 copies, and on rare occasions, they can hope for a book to sell a full 5,000 copies.
The book that sells 100,000 or one million copies is extremely rare.
With more than 100,000 books being printed every year, fewer than one percent of those books will see sales in the range of 5,000 or more copies. Every publisher has hopes that one of the 1,000 books every year that will sell at least 5,000 copies is one of the books sold through their publishing house. These are the books that will help the publisher to make a real profit this year.
One publisher told me that he lets his editors take care of the full book editing and development process. And, he said that he will not even pay attention to the book, until the book sells 5,000 copies. Only then will he consider reading the book himself and cranking up his marketing department to try to sell the book to a wider audience.
So, here it is in a nutshell. If you are a new book author, and you would like to see your book get some serious attention from your publisher and the public, then you need to step up to the plate and promote your book in such a way, as you can ensure that your book will sell 5,000 copies or more.
These days, most publishers will put up single webpages offering each of their books to the public. As a writer of the book, you should not believe that this page will be a well-written, well-optimized page on the internet.
Don't fool yourself... The webpage where your book is offered generally will not get great rankings in the search engines for the keywords relevent to the topic of your book. Additionally, the sales copy will not be set up in such a way as to give much confidence to your potential buyers.
Print book publishers don't do a good job building online promotional materials for a book, until they put their best people on the job. And, the publisher will not put their best people on the job until they believe that they have a winner in their stable.
As a writer, if you want your book to be anything more than a dust-catcher on your own shelf, you need to learn to be a book promoter also.
HOW TO SELL YOUR FIRST 5,000 BOOKS
As a book author, there are three basic steps that you will want to undertake to promote your book online.
1. Set up a domain
In this article, I am going to take a look at how and why you will want to consider each of these steps.
1. SET UP A DOMAIN WEBSITE
Yes, you need a "domain" website. A free page on Geocities.com or Freeservers.com will not instill confidence with your potential customers. Let's face it, the most important marketing consideration for any product or service to be sold on the internet today is to build the "trust factor".
A person, who is being asked to take out their wallet, wants to know that they will get what they have paid for. Free sites cannot be traced to anyone in particular, and commercial websites on the free servers are considered in general to be owned by the fly-by-night outfits on the internet.
We have to give our potential customers the confidence they need to buy products and services from us. And, in order to give our potential customers confidence, we must be willing to spend a few of our own dollars to set up a website.
You can actually register a domain for less than $20 in most cases. Hosting for that domain can be picked up from hundreds of web hosting companies for as little as $10-$20 per month.
On your website, you want to tell readers about your book and why your reader might want to buy your book. On your website, be certain to also ask your reader for the sale, and give them a link where they can buy your book.
Including testimonials and book reviews on your website, will also help you to build interest and trust with your readers.
Sometimes, it can pay dividends to hire a web designer to design the visual template for your website, and to hire a sales copywriter to write your sales copy for the book.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all web designers can write good salescopy, and few copywriters make good web designers.
When you can afford to do so, you should seriously consider hiring a professional to do the tasks necessary to build a nice website and to put good salescopy onto your website. Great web designers will also help you by building your e-commerce system, so that your readers can buy directly from your website.
The professionals do not have to be really expensive. Both can usually be found for a couple hundred dollars. Of course, you could pay more, but you can still find some good people at these rates.
2. PROMOTE YOUR BOOK WITH FREE-REPRINT ARTICLES
Free-Reprint Articles are informational pieces designed to educate the reader about something of interest to the reader.
In an article, your goal is to talk about some topic that is related to the topic of your book. You don't actually want to sell your book inside the body of the article. Instead, you want to use your article to introduce your readers to concepts that might be covered in your book.
When you reach the end of the article, you want to include your About The Author information (often referred to as your Resource Box). Keep your sales material in your Resource Box, but keep in mind that your goal is not to sell your book in your Resource Box. Instead, your goal is to use your Resource Box to get the reader to your website, then use your website to sell your book.
Many people ask if article promotion will work for them. This is what I tell them.
The ability of an article to produce results for you will depend on your article. The internet is still a democracy in that people will make the choice for themselves whether or not they want to use your article.
Some articles get lots of reprints, some do not. The average outcome is about 40-50 backlinks and multiple publications in ezines.
Poor articles still get an average of ten reprints. Exceptional articles generate in excess of thousands of reprints. The results really do rely upon the article.
(One client of mine has one article that generated more than 5,000 reprints in two years time. This same client has written more than 100 articles. He is a well-known article writer and this fact does help his ability to generate more mileage from a single article.)
Just as important as the article itself, is the author resource box. The article is the vehicle to get your resource box seen. A good resource box offers just enough information to inspire the reader to visit your website to learn more about your book. A good resource box also offers a strong call-to-action to get the reader to your website. Let your website do the selling, but use the resource box to get the reader to your website.
Also, you really should consider doing more than one article over a longer period of time. For example, six articles over six months. Each subsequent article puts your name in front of the publishers who will use your articles. Name recognition will help your overall ability for getting published.
3. PROMOTE YOUR BOOK WITH PRESS RELEASES
I always recommend a
two-fold approach to any book promotion.
Press releases are different from an article. A good article will have an educational or informational slant to them. A good press release will be designed more as a news story. A good press release has the most noteworthy news in the first paragraph, the second most noteworthy information in the second paragraph, etc.
Additonally, the press release will provide a telephone number for news reporters to contact you for more information concerning your story, so that they can build their own news story from your information.
Although the premise of a press release is so that a reporter can learn enough to build their own news story, you have to remember that their schedule is tight as well. Build your press release in such a way that it can be used as THE news story. Many people will take your press release verbatum for their own use. They might take only the first paragraph, and then they might take the whole thing.
Build your press release with the hope that it will be used in full. Build your press release with the thought that the reporter may only use the first paragraph.
Be prepared to receive phone calls to answer questions about your topic. And, be prepared when no one calls.
I have sent out more than a dozen press releases myself. I have seen those press releases read thousands of times and used hundreds of times. And yet, no one has ever called me for more information.
Book promotion should not be viewed as a one-time event. If you take the idea that I will try this once to see if it works, then you might as well save your time and money and not even try at all.
Promotion is an ongoing process. Nothing will happen until you do something. And then you will need to keep doing something to keep open the possibility of something happening to your benefit.
You need to build up a momentum, and then just keep on running.
You are more likely to get published and to sell books if people recognize your name. And, one-time out will not allow anyone to get to know you.
Book authors who can build up a promotional momentum for their book are very likely to find their first 5,000 sales. And as a general rule, once you have crossed that threshold, your publisher will be more than happy to help you to keep that momentum going.
Copyright ©2007 by Bill Platt. All rights reserved.