Sunday, April 29, 2018

Are You Searching for a Magic Bullet?

As I talk with writers at many different levels and places in the publishing world, it seems like many of them are looking for a magic bullet.  They are searching for the one place to publish their book and propel them to the bestseller list. These writers have created a book proposal or a book manuscript and believe with the right publisher or the right literary agent or the right publicist, they will sell many copies of their book and succeed in their quest to accomplish their dreams.

I don't want to burst anyone's optimism and dreams in their quest, but from my experience and years in publishing, it is not finding a magic bullet or single path. There are many paths and options to achieve success in the publishing world. If there was a single path or formula, then every book would become a bestseller—and succeed—and we know that is not the case.

Many details have to come together in the publishing world for a book to sell and succeed. Last week one of my authors at Morgan James told us they and their book were going to be promoted on a national television show this coming week. I was excited for them to hear this news—but also a bit skeptical about the actual results. 

Yes people will be able to buy the book online—yet 76% of our book sales are in other places such as brick and mortar bookstores. A bookseller has to order and carry your book inside their store for it to be there. This sales process takes time and is very fluid. If the author doesn't promote and tell people about their book (a continual process) then the bookseller assumes no one will come in their store asking about the book. As a result the bookseller returns the book to the publisher and it is no longer available for the customer to buy it.

Let's return to this author who is going to be on a national television program. She has not been in communication with her publisher (Morgan James) about her promotion efforts. This information has not been passed on to our sales team who promote the author to the bookseller and get the book sold into the bookstores. In fact, the opposite has been happening with this author. We've not heard about their efforts (even if they were happening) so no information has been passed to the sales team and I suspect many of the books that were sold into the stores several years ago, have now been returned. 

Because of the short window of notification from the author, there is little opportunity to resell the book into the various bookstores. It means this book is not positioned for such a national appearance. I did not name this author and hope their television appearance is a huge boost for this book (despite my skepticism).

A single appearance is like looking for a magic bullet—hard to imagine it being successful. Studies about sales have proven that someone has to hear about your book or product at least seven or eight times before they purchase the book. The television appearance is just one of the exposures. As an author, you have to use many different means to expose your audience to your book.

Here's a different author and situation. Last week Amberly Lago launched her book, True Grit and Grace. I acquired Amberly's book for Morgan James Publishing and encouraged her to work with an editor (which she did to produce a well-written book). Also Amberly is working with a publicist who has set up some great events for her. Amberly also has an email list and is using this list to stir excitement and promote her events and her book. About a month ago, I learned that Amberly was scheduled to appear on the Today Show. Megyn Kelly was going to interview her. Notice the timeframe (a month) which gives us time to sell the book into the bookstores so it is physically in the stores (as well as available online).

I encourage you to watch this less than ten-minute video clip. It was two segments on the show and you can't get much better to have Megyn Kelly tell her audience to “buy the book.” Notice the book cover and title of the book was shown several times during the interview.  On the day the book launched the book was #127 on Amazon (where the numbers change every hour and the lower the number the better in a place with millions of books).

It takes multiple exposures, broad distribution and on-going and varied promotion to sell books. The team (publisher, author, distributor, publicist) have to work together—not in isolation. I hope these stories and details give you some ideas for your own book. As the author, you have the greatest passion but good communication and teamwork is also an essential element.

Are you still looking for that magic bullet or on-going, steady sales? Tell me in the comments below.

If you are searching for a magic bullet to sell your book, get these insights from an editor.  (ClickToTweet)
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