Sell Your Books: No Guarantee

by Tom Blubaugh

There are numerous voices out there in the literary marketplace that profess to have the latest and greatest methods for you to sell your books. Some even try to give you a guarantee. Beware. Before you make an investment in a program, product, or professional, I suggest that you do the following.

  • Research, research, research! Do your homework. Look beyond the glossy ads and favorable testimonials and find out if that product, person, or thing can take you where you want to go in regards to book sales.
  • How many gadgets have you bought that currently have a permanent residence in a dark, deep closet somewhere in your humble abode? Consider that when you are positioning your book for sales. If a person promises that you will sell 1,000 books in 10 days if you buy their program, how realistic is this claim? Just take a trip down to that closet and those “get rich quick or lose 20 lbs. by tomorrow” schemes will suddenly shake you back to reality.
  • Also selling your book to “everyone” is not cost effective, nor is it reasonable. Remember your first book is an invitation to a potential reader to become a loyal reader for the many other books that are floating around in your creative space.
  • Always keep your book’s target market in mind so that any decision you may make will properly align itself with your overall goals for book sales. That means if you’ve written non-fiction, then market to those who are interested in your topic – gardeners, quilters, cooks, Bible scholars may have some crossover, but don’t waste time and money targeting everyone.
  • Develop a marketing strategy. Implement it. Stick with it and evaluate your progress. Measure how each thing is working. That way you will know when something isn’t working and you can find something else that will.

Beware of the word guarantee when it comes to book selling. If an agent or a promotional publicist or other publishing professional says, “I guarantee you that we’ll sell ______ books!” Beware. No one can guarantee book sales. This is why it is so hard to find an agent/publishing house.

There are too many variables:

  • Is the book well written?
  • Is it professionally edited?
  • Does it hook the reader in the first chapter?
  • Does the cover–front, back, and spine–hook the prospective reader?
  • Is the book listed in the correct category/genre?
  • Are the best and most effective keywords/phrases used to promote?
  • Does the author have a website, blog, and/or newsletter?
  • Does the author have a unique domain name so that searchers find her easily?
  • Does the author have a consistent image and name in social media?
  • Is the book priced properly to sell?
  • Does the author have an effective way to capture names and email addresses of buyers before sending them to Amazon?
  • Is the author’s name branded?
  • Does the author have a target market outside of her comfort zone/circle of influence?
  • Does the author have a connection with other same genre authors for the purpose of cross-promoting books and leveraging readers?

These are the basic insurance policy items on your check list that you can do to insure your book can sell, and that your next book will sell at least to those that purchased your first book, and then your next book. This is not an inclusive list, I’m sure. For instance don’t forget to divide the task and double the success, and know when to hold ’em. 

Technology has changed the game for authors who want to sell books. No longer is it profitable for you to sit for hours at a table in a bookstore and wait for the crowd to find you. It’s a comfortable position, but it just isn’t happening anymore, unless you are a celebrity or flash-in-the-pan sensation.

Your book is a separate entity that has a shelf life of its own. Two things have to happen if you want to sell your book. You have a supply and the reader demands at least one copy—supply and demand. You have to have a publishing process and a purchase venue that makes books easily available to customers and you must market that book to create a demand in the marketplace.

Did you notice that word create?

You book won’t sell if no one knows about it. Your book won’t sell if no one can find it. Your book won’t sell if a reader cannot tell what it is about from the description, and the cover doesn’t draw her in to find out more.

So create the readers’ need with well thought out book descriptions and good keywords that readers actually use to find books. Capitalize on famous authors’ works. If you write books similar to Stephen King or Ted Dekker or Frank Perritti, say that in your description. But you better deliver as promised, otherwise you’ll be a one hit wonder for a day.

No guarantee for book selling, but you can certainly level the playing field with excellent marketing strategies.

For paying members at the Writer’s Level or the Author’s Level, Authors Community now offers Keyword Search Service. To learn more, you can call Authors Community CEO, Tom Blubaugh. Or email us with your questions.

[Gina Burgess contributed to this article.]



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4 thoughts on “Sell Your Books: No Guarantee”

  1. Cicely van Straten

    Thank you, Tom, for this richly-packed blog! So needed by the raw beginner at promotion. It will be printed out and highlighted NOW! Blessings.

  2. Cecelia Lester

    Our son learned several years ago that there are no guarantees in life. People who use that word should learn how unfair it is to take advantage of people by saying it. This applies in the marketing field as well as anywhere.

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