Publishers Cringe At This Question
As a book publisher and a former acquisitions editor, I've often heard this question from my authors. They ask a few months (or a few weeks) after their book has entered the market. They want to know, "How's my book selling?"
Because I don't have instant access to this information, I can honestly confess, "I don't know." And why do I cringe? Because I'm fairly confident the author will not be thrilled with the sales answer. I'm confident that publishers are doing everything they can to sell your book and get people to buy your book--even if as the author you don't "feel" like they are making enough effort.
When you ask this question, in reality, you are facing an age-old question that we see in other areas of our life. For example, you don't like some of the behavior of your spouse or your co-worker or some friend. Often there isn't much you can do about that situation--but wait, you can do something about yourself. It's the same situation when it comes to selling books into the market.
Often authors feel powerless when in reality they have lots of power which they are not using. While the powerless feeling may exist, it is not true. As an author, you have a great deal of power to sell your book. Who have you told about your book in the last month? the last week? the last day? How are you telling them? Are you using an electronic newsletter? Are you using a blog? Are you using social media like Twitter and Facebook? Are you involved in online groups and telling people about your book in the signature of your email? Are you using direct mail such as postcards or printed pieces such as bookmarks? Are you speaking about the topic of your book? Are you doing radio interviews and readings at bookstores? The array of possibilities are endless for authors. Use what is in front of you to tell people about your book. They will have to hear about the book multiple times often before they purchase the product. What are you doing to stir those multiple presentations about the benefits and value of your book?
As writers, we invest huge amounts of time, energy and money into learning how to write a great book. Your publisher and you work hard to create the best possible book cover and riveting, page-turning content on the inside of your book. Yet many of us (yes I include myself) fail because of marketing and sales. We haven't assumed enough of the responsibility for our own book nor told the numerous people we can easily reach about the value of our book. In case, you didn't notice, I've turned the conversation to myself. Last year, I wish more people had purchased my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Instead of moaning and feeling bad about those sales, I'm recommitting to increase my efforts to tell more people about this book. It's one of the reasons that I'm getting out and speaking in a number of places during the coming months. Follow this link to check my constantly changing schedule because I'd love to meet you at one of these places.
Last week, I spent a day with Loral Langemeier and Mark Victor Hansen at a free Phoenix event. I've heard Mark a number of times (always inspiring) but I had never met nor heard Loral. The opportunity came through my email (which I read) so I signed up and attended. Over 250 people registered for the free event--but only about 80 people actually showed up (a key fact--show up when you have such an opportunity). I took pages of notes when Loral and Mark spoke.
Every author is an entrepreneur and you need to begin thinking like an entrepreneur to succeed. Loral pointed to four key entrepreneur skills: marketing, sales, finance (handling your money) and building a team. These are skills which you can learn but are not taught in business schools but are critical to learn to make money--i.e. sell your book and reach people with the message of your book. What are you doing today to market your book and your message? How are you selling your product and what steps can you take to increase that product? What steps can you take in the financial area to be smarter about how you handle your money? Some of you will be wondering about the team skill. As writers are great at working alone on our writing, but how are you working as a team with others? What sorts of cooperative ventures can you form to tell more people about your book or your message?
I'm convinced you have the power and responsibility to tell others about your book. What are you doing today to proactively move in the right direction?