And here comes the third and final part (for now—there seems to be a fishy theme...) on skyrocketing your book sales. I’ll do more as I get closer to releasing the Author Book Selling Guide That Will Torture You into Selling More Books or Else (yes, that is the title for now).
Let me rehash the two previous posts here, the first one on selling yourself as a brand, and the second one on learning to sell your books on your own.
You're selling yourself before you can sell your books. That’s how you start. At first people don’t know who you are. You’ve got to have a brand, some kind of a feeling you evoke in your potential readers for them to buy into the idea of you. I know, easy to say but hard to do.
In the Very Scary Selling Guide (ohh, i just changed the title again) I’ll outline every step to your marvelous book-selling success (picture yourself sitting on a golden throne with a pink pig to warm your feet and a bear skin to envelop your precious royal being) in more detail, namely:
1. BRAND: Establish your own brand. Who are you? What do you stand for? Write an Artist Statement. Or a short bio. Or whatever you want to call it, but basically tell us who you are.
2. BLOG: Start a blog if you haven’t already done so, and post on it like you know what you’re talking about (this is the big secret to sales—talk with confidence, you can feel scared later).
3. NEWSLETTER: Start a newsletter. Brand this into your forehead! Collect readers’ emails like there is no tomorrow (don’t forget to ask permission—don’t be that annoying weasel who sends newsletters to people without asking them to subscribe first). Send it out once a month to begin with, then get to once a week or so.
4. CRM: Get your CRM system set up. More about it here.
5. ASK: Ask what your readers want. It’s really that simple. In all those places you’ve established, your blog, your newsletter, the magical appearances of your persona on the glorious platforms other writers have already established—Ask! If in doubt, read The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.
6. WRITE: Actually write a book to sell! (Better if you have a whole portfolio of them already written.) And if you write non-fiction, then write what your readers asked you for. Or if you write fiction, if you can, write whatever story they asked for. Or maybe a collection of short stories. Anything.
7. GIVE: Give your readers what they asked for (see above). I know, strange, isn’t it? But this is how business works. You give your customers what they asked for, to solve their problems.
8. TOUR: Now that you've got a bunch of books, get help from other, established writers or in other established events or venues. Basically, there are people out there who already have huge audiences. For you to get noticed it’d take forever. But if you offer other writers things of value they can’t say no to (I’ll personally give you foot massage every day!), they might let you guest post on their blog, or they’ll invite you to their event or to an event they know of (that's how I got invited to be part of FanNexus—I said I’d chop off their fingers if they won’t invite me…of course, they did).
9. REPEAT. Ask. Write. Give. Etc.
2. Learn to sell.
In the second post I urged you to learn how to sell your books yourself, independently from big behemoths like Amazon. Tomorrow Amazon might go belly up, and you’ll be fucked. But if you have your own online store (your site hosted on the platform you pay for or, even better, on your own servers), you can keep selling no matter what disaster rocks the self-publishing world (I’m assuming you’re reading this because you self-publish. I’ve no clue how it works when you traditionally publish, if you can sell alongside your publisher or not.)
3. Sell every day.
And that is the topic of today’s post.
Sell every day. To everyone. At all times.
Daunting? Yes. Doable? Yes.
Everyone you talk to reads books. The bus driver. The coffee shop barista. The coworker who came back from vacation. Your neighbors (you can eat them later). Think about all the people you talk to daily. They all can potentially buy your books! It’s a matter of you selling the books to them. Or, if they don’t read books (there are people like that??), they know someone who does, and it’s your job to ask for those folks and then contact them to sell to them, and so on.
I can hear you groan.
Hey, I groaned too. But here is the thing. But I got so tired of being broke, I ignored my inner groaning, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. And I’m doing it. I’m making sales. I’m making money. It’s happening.
How do I do it?
Remember, as I told you before. I ask questions. And then I let my readers talk themselves into a sale. Basically, selling it being human and being emphatic. It’s natural. Selling for us humans is natural. When we don’t hide behind our fears, we want to know how our fellow human beings are. That’s all there is to it.
Ask how people are. Listen. Ask them about their day, about their immediate problem (everyone has a problem, trust me). And when they tell you their problem, give them the solution to it. It just so happens that a good book can be a solution to any problem, as a glorious escape and a brain recharge.
You’re in a great business, my friend, selling books.
Think of it as giving love to your fellow human beings. Here is a sample conversation for you (this isn’t a real example but is based on dozens of conversations I have with anyone I meet every day):
Me: Hello, how are you?
Bus Driver: Hi! I’m fine. Yourself?
Me: Splendid. Has it been a long day? When do you get off?
Driver: Oh! (Surprised.) Another hour or so.
Me: Just one more hour! You can do it. How do you usually relax after a long day?
Driver: Oh, I don’t know. Watch a movie?
Me: Great choice. Stories are the best. What about books?
Driver: I don’t remember the last time I read a book.
Me: What format do you prefer? Ebooks or paperbacks?
Driver: Oh, paper for sure. I love the feel of it.
Me: Yes! Me too. The weight…the smell.
We reminisce about paper books for another minute.
Me: So what kinds of books do you like? Dark and funny or dark and not funny?
Driver: Dark, definitely.
Me: How dark? (I take out my bookmark and offer it.) Here comes your next nightmare. I wouldn’t take it it I were you.
Driver: You’re a writer? (Takes it.)
Me: Where can I send you your next very scary story?
Driver: Oh, this is awesome! Thank you!
Me: Don’t thank me yet. It’s my stop. I’ll come to you tonight in your nightmare, is that okay? (I get off at the stop.)
Driver (laughs): I'll email you!
Me: You better!
After this I usually get an email with a book order.
This, of course, varies. If there is time, I ask for an email and promise to send a free ebook, which I then do (never promise something you can’t deliver). And we might chit-chat some more. But I have basically never asked for a sale, as you can see. And I have offered a solution to the driver’s problem, which was two-fold: a way to escape after a long day of work, and a nostalgia of books and getting lost in great stories.
This is it. I do these types of conversations every day, multiple times. And I’m getting better, and better, and better. It also teaches me to really hear people. It teaches me to love better.
It’ll teach you too.
If you do it like I do—if you simply follow the steps I’ll outline for you—it’ll work for you too, but ONLY if you do the actual work. You’ll be able to support yourself financially by writing alone. It’s what you want, isn’t it? Well, it’s what I wanted too. And guess what, it’s happening.
These last three months I was able to make as much as I did when I was employed and contributed to the family budget, which was $2K. The problem I had was, I was overspending on book stock and shipping (all those free paper books), so in net I made hardly more than $100-200 per month. But I raised my book prices and started teaching other writers my super-awesome book-selling methods, and this September I was only $300 shy of my monthly $2K goal in net income. Net. You hear this? NET. And this October I plan to make the $2K in net, and this November I plan to double it, and I’ll keep doubling it until I make my 1 Million in 5 years. Or maybe even sooner.
Yes, it will happen.
And yes, you can do it too.
And yes, I can show you how.
Hang tight. Working on it.
Up next, the posts you asked me for on the differences of distributing with CreateSpace vs. IngramSpark, and also on the pre-ordering business, and all that jazz. Stay tuned.
Throw questions at me in the comments. Or email me privately. I’ll take your lungs for payments and answer ALL YOUR QUESTIONS. So get on it.