Writing A Book Is Easy – But Selling it?

Writing A Book Is Easy

I’ve written and published a book, now how do I sell it?

Okay, so writing a book may take months or even years, but when it comes to making something of all that effort, well?

In today’s online, ebook, Kindle and iPad publishing world, even giving away ebooks for free can be a tough challenge. So what is going on, and how can an author make a buck?

The answer is that it is certainly not easy at all. Forget all the one off  ‘good luck‘ stories you may have read in the news.

For one Fifty Shades, there are a million more books, and perhaps two million, that didn’t get anywhere near even selling ten copies. So what do you do with your book, and more importantly, all your hard work?

The best advice I can give is by way of an analogy. Imagine walking into your local book store. What do you see? Now think carefully.

Ok, so you see the latest biography by someone famous occupying a cardboard display box. It sells of course, but only for a month or two at most.

Now think about how much the publisher paid to get this prime position. Then move on to the display of the latest cookery books, all laid out in piles as the second line for attention grabbing. Colourful attention-grabbing covers?

Oops, is your cover attention grabbing? Maybe a clue here.

Next to this will be a display of the top ten selling books. Top Ten? But by whose decision? Newspapers, NYT, Time, or more than likely, the shop owner. Who cares anyway, it’s the top ten by someone’s decision.

Then move on to the neatly laid out display of books on special. Coffee table books, recent but fading best sellers and of course, more colourful cookery books.

Now, think about one of your all-time favourite books. For me, it would perhaps be Lord of the Flies.

So where would I find a copy of it in my bookstore? You know of course. Way, way, way at the back somewhere, and if I am lucky, in alphabetical order by author. Or I may have to order it.

Does all this sound familiar?

Selling ebooks is about online positioning.

Ok, so now try to implant this image into online bookstores such as Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo or B&N. They actually operate in a very similar manner. So how can an author get into the game and make their book or books more visible to customers who (virtually) visit online bookstores?

The answer is, in fact, simple. Apply the exact same logic. Do you want the place in the display box occupied by the biography of the day? Pay, pay, pay and pay. Pay anywhere and everywhere, but here’s the proviso, over a very short period of time.

Do you want second position? Alongside the colourful cookery books. Pay again. But make sure you have a killer cover!

What about the discount rack? Do ebook giveaways and Kindle Countdown deals. The top ten rack? No hope, unless you know someone at Amazon. Give away more ebooks, and cross your fingers.

And lastly, in alphabetical order at the back of the store? Yep, that’s where most authors are, and some readers do sometimes find these books and buy them. So all is not lost.

But, for authors who really want to succeed and make a little money from their hard work, just keep thinking about the imaginary bookstore and getting your books closer to the front of the store, and in front of potential buyer’s eyes.

By any and all means at your disposal. Social media, blogs, guest blogging, PR and media releases, email or paid advertising to name only a few ways of attracting attention.

In all my time in self-publishing, I have come to know many, many other authors, and they fall into two distinct categories. The ones I no longer hear from, who obeyed the rule that, if at first, you don’t succeed, give up, and they have all long gone.

But for those authors who believe that, if at first, you don’t succeed, you try, try, try, try again: these are the authors who I am still very firmly in contact with. And believe me, there are many.

Ok, it’s tough. But always remember the one advantage you have as an author nowadays. Your book is in alphabetical order in the back of book shop. That’s a far better start than in a real book shop. So all you have to do is keep trying to move it forward.

Never give up!

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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