The key to book sales

posted in: Various Musings | 0

By way of introduction…I became an indie author back in 2011.  I didn’t realize that visibility was fairly easy at the time to come by for lots of reasons.  When I started publishing, I just wanted to be read—and I believed back then that readers would magically find me.   I did slowly gather an amazing group of readers but, without experience or education in marketing, I wasn’t sure what I was “doing wrong” when my sales slumped.

So I followed a lot of bad advice, tried lots of crappy ideas.  I took a lot of ridiculously expensive courses.  The books I bought weren’t so bad.  I did get a few tidbits along the way, but none of these people taking my thousands of dollars told me the most important thing I needed to know—something I should have known.

To sell books, your book needs to be seen.  And you usually have to either give your time or your money to get visible.  Time…even if you can spend a lot of time to get visible, it’s hard to get traction that way.  You can spend your time posting your book in different Facebook groups, tweeting constantly, and posting images on Instagram.  You can spend time asking people to sign up for your Thunderclap campaign.  You can spend more time getting to meet bloggers and asking them to pimp you out.  You can ask friends to pimp out your book as well.

But it’s exhausting and not so fun.  You feel desperate—and a bit like a sales person. I know, because I’ve been there.  No one likes that feeling.

Or you can spend money.  There are a few ways to do that.  One is advertising—Facebook, Amazon, BookBub.  The other is by running a promotion and then paying promotion sites to share your book with their audiences (like BookBub, the Fussy Librarian, Love Kissed Book Bargains, etc.).  Both can work.  Both require practice to figure out what works for YOU.

Lots of these courses I took and the books I read insisted they had the answers.  They might have had an answer, but they usually failed to be blunt. Most of the time, they didn’t actually know.  And that’s why I’m writing this post right now.  I want to stress to you that it all comes down to visibility.  Yes, there are lots of things to know around visibility (like the “rule of seven”), but just know that there is no magical formula.  You have to be seen.  Your own newsletter helps, yes, but it’s not the be all-end all a lot of authors make it out to be.  On average, I have an open rate of 30-40%–and that’s considered excellent.  And, of those folks who open, they don’t all click.  You can do the math.  A newsletter’s great, but unless you have TONS of subscribers, it’s not going to be everything you need it to be.

I did take one course that I found extremely helpful.  If you’re a romance author and you want to learn how to advertise on Facebook, I recommend Skye Warren’s Facebook Ads Intensive.  She teaches not just how to advertise on Facebook and make it profitable but she also covers basic marketing essentials.  I also bought some books that I’d recommend (Robert J. Ryan’s four-book Self-publishing Guide series is worth the money).

One other thing—yes, it’s true that you have to start with the basics.  You have to have a great cover and amazing description but when you’re not sure why your books aren’t selling, you question everything and tend to believe whatever advice is thrown at you. I’m here to tell you to not believe everything you read.

Have I found my way back to the proverbial top?  Nope.  Not even close.  But after six years of trying to figure out how to sell my books (when they used to sell themselves), I think I’ve figured it out.  When I’m able to make my book visible (through Facebook ads or stacked promotions), I sell more.  And I think you will, too!

What about you?  What’s your secret to selling more books?

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