by Angie Waikel
Ah, a perfect world: Plenty of quiet time alone to write your book, uninterrupted. The words flow like a bubbling stream. You finish the book, attach a stunning cover, publish, and voilà—the sales start rolling in.
You think to yourself as you lazily sip tea, gazing at the beautiful sunset, “Why didn’t I do this before? I didn’t know writing a book was so easy!”
Suddenly, the alarm startles you back to real life.
If only, right? The harsh truth is that the majority of self-published authors end up selling less than 100 copies of their books. Writing a book is hard enough, but marketing is another challenge in itself. That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult or time consuming.
This article covers a few savvy “white hat” techniques that have been proven to work—without social media, email list building, or blogging.
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1. Make sure your book is beautiful. It will be judged.
You can be an incredible writer worthy of bestseller status, but if your book’s design is crap, you won’t sell many.
The book cover is to convince your audience they need to read your book. The cover attracts potential readers to look at your book, check it out, and make a buying decision.
A book cover’s purpose is to give visual form to the written content. It is the most important piece of branding for your book that reflects upon you.
People will judge the quality of your book by your book’s cover.
The book interior should be professionally designed and formatted to reflect the book’s personality.
A book’s design should always be clean and organized, never sloppy.
Think of dating: You’re drawn to someone by the way they look; their features and their expressions. Then you’re compelled to talk with them to learn more about their personality. If you like what they have to offer, you take action to pursue the relationship.
Scour the internet and local bookstores for covers in your genre to capture what inspires you. Make a list of 5-10 books you like that have been successful in sales, and emulate their design style without copying. You can also look outside of your genre for ideas.
Your research doesn’t have to be limited to books. Look at art pieces, photos, websites—anything that is congruent in personality and style to your writing so you can start to envision a design that flows with your brand.
Checkpoints of a good book cover:
- Is it readable from all angles and sizes?
Print out your cover and look at it from all angles, and from across the room. Reduce it to thumbnail size: Is it still legible?
- Does it have clarity?
Your cover should clearly reflect what the book is about. It should communicate the genre, the subject, and the overall tone of the book.
- Finally, you should love your cover.
This is a business investment, and your cover should represent and justify all the hard work you put into writing the book. Your book cover should give you an immediate feeling of pride and accomplishment.
2. Be brave, be bold.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in your title and design. Being a little controversial gets your book the attention it deserves. Conforming to the crowd keeps you obscure, while making a bold statement gets the attention, and becomes embedded in people’s minds. Push the envelope. Be daring.
3. Just ask.
Make a list of everyone you know who would be willing to buy 1, 10, even 100 copies of your book. Then call them and ask if they would like to buy several copies of your book.
Honoree Corder had ordered 5,000 copies of her book and the pressure was on to get those books sold. She took Mark Victor Hansen’s advice and asked everyone she knew this exact sentence: “Would you like to buy between 10 and 100 copies of my book for your friends, clients, co-workers and/or employees?” with an order form ready. In just three weeks, using that sentence, she sold 11,000 copies.
4. Turn your book into an advertising vehicle for businesses.
Offer to customize your back cover into an advertisement for businesses with clients who would directly benefit from your book. This works well for law firms, insurance agencies, financial advisors, and therapists. For example, offer back cover customization for orders of 1000 or more.
5. Create a superfan club.
Take the time to personally thank your readers whenever possible, and answer any questions. Reach out to your most loyal fans and invite them to join your private group. This simple gesture encourages organic promotion and virality of your book.
6. Reverse market your book.
Visit your local bookstores and leave a couple copies of your book. Make sure your contact information is in the book. When people try to buy a copy, the bookseller won’t know what to do, so they may contact you and wonder what to do. Just say, “Give them the book, or sell them the book.” Many will then ask you how they can get more copies.
7. Tell readers what you want them to do.
- Always have a sales page in your book that clearly states how to purchase orders in bulk, how to leave an honest five-star Amazon review, how to hire you to be a speaker, or how to purchase your coaching program.
- Don’t forget to explain how people can join your Facebook group, get a free book, or opt into your email list.
- Don’t rely on readers to take those next steps. It’s a psychological fact: People need to be told what to do. Not because they lack intelligence, but because everyone is busy, and our time is limited.
8. Shift your mindset.
Believe in yourself as a successful author.
Every day, write down, “I am a successful author who makes a living by writing books.”
Make that your mantra, and say it to yourself every day.
Once you’ve done this repeatedly, it will seep into your subconscious and become hard-wired into who you are.
This may be hard, but do your best: Write down all the bad experiences you’ve had as an author: The rejections, the haters, the ones who didn’t believe in you. The more descriptive you can be, the better.
Then go through your list, one by one. Really ponder on the memory and how it made you feel at the time. Repeat this mantra, and remember to be completely sincere in your heart as you do so:
I forgive you.
I love you.
You will immediately start to feel lighter and happier. This mantra de-clogs all the negative sludge lingering in your mind and clears the way for manifesting success with a positive mind shift.
Rinse and repeat as many times as needed. The more you practice this mantra, the better it works.
Study successful writers.
Read their personal stories; their triumphs and their setbacks. Learn from their experiences.
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“You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.” —Mark Victor Hansen
Remember: You’re a talented, professional, successful author, and the world is ready to know you!