As a self-published author, when switching from author to salesperson, remember: readers want a good story more than a cheap book.
As self-published authors, we are writers, then we are entrepreneurs, which is just a polite way to say we hawk the books we write. Many writers struggle with this dual role but accept the fact that playing salesperson is part of the deal.
Factors that complicate the transition from author to salesperson include:
- We are typically not salespeople by nature.
- Those doing it poorly make it more difficult for the rest of us who are struggling to earn a living.
- Everyone else is doing it (i.e. there is loads of competition).
So how do you promote yourself without sounding like a carnival barker or without being labeled as another self-published author who thinks her work is better than everything in the book stores?
First, think about how you want to present yourself. When you publish, you will promote via social media, email newsletter, blog, guest blogs, book signings, and appearances. When you are promoting yourself as an author, my adamant advice is never use the words free, sale, buy, or read.
You are a writer: you have many more words in your repertoire than these four to promote and discuss your release.
Use words that are less about sales and make it a conversation instead. If you were in a room full of people, you would never break the ice with, “Hi, I’ve got a book for sale,” or “Want to buy my book?” or even, “Would you read my novel?” You especially wouldn’t greet someone with, “My book is free this week. Get yours today!”
If someone approached you like that, you’d be offended – especially if you didn’t know the author. In addition to its being rude, you’re also leading with you wanting something, instead of providing a benefit or meeting a need of the reader. Just because your readers are online and miles away doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them with the same respect. The language and style you use when you’re wearing your salesperson hat can tell a reader a lot about the type of author you are.
Lead with style. Start your tried-and-true word-of-mouth momentum with a captivating title and blurbs about your product instead of its price. Get visual with a tantalizing book cover and marketing graphics. Promote yourself without saying you are promoting yourself.
Even if your book is free, a reader has to invest hours reading it. Saving them a few dollars doesn’t alter their time investment (in fact, it’s easier to ignore something you got for free – you might be more likely to read something if you have financial stake in the matter).
Of course, you need to balance writing and sales, but don’t let your focus on sales bury the fact you are an author. More importantly, you are an author before being a salesperson. You’ll increase your chances for sales if you remember readers want a good story more than a cheap book. Many would much rather you draw them in with inventive storytelling and a brilliant plot rather than the fact that your book is 99¢ this week only.
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