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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:

  1. We are typically not salespeople by nature.
  2. Those doing it poorly make it more difficult for the rest of us who are struggling to earn a living.
  3. 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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C. Hope Clark

About C. Hope Clark

C. Hope Clark has written 19 posts in this blog.

C. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, the fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. Hope speaks to conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and adores connecting with others. She is also founder of, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers. She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband.

10 thoughts on “How To Go From Author To Salesperson

  1. Dr.Manohar Potdar 'Abodh' says:

    I am a published author.
    My Pharmaceutical Sciences books are bringing me lot of money as royalty.
    But my fiction books don’t.
    I write in the Indian language Hindi.
    Interested in promoting my fiction books.
    Kindly advise.

  2. Comfort says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. The content and presentation of our books is far more important than the price and it is what will promote it. Truly grateful.

  3. Many thanks first for your supporting insight. I’m self published and starting. Its really been great knowing the hurdles ahead and treating them for stepping stones. God bless your work

  4. Marja McGraw says:

    I read “The Shy Writer” a few years ago, and highly recommend it. It helped me quite a bit. Excellent post!

  5. I’m trying to market my first novel. As an unknown author I want to lead readers to a site that gives the first four chapters at no charge. Is “no charge” as bad as free? How do I say “Read the first four chapters” without saying “read”? Thank you for a helpful article.

    1. Jerry Hines says:

      How about: “Get to know more about my book, by clicking” HERE. They can decide if they want to read the chapters or not.

  6. I like your statement: “Lead with style.” Smart advice!

  7. I’m just on the verge of publishing ‘Ned’s Head – The Boy With The Unforgettable Memory’. It has taken three years to write and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give it away. My web site is a few weeks from going live. It will have synopsis and free chapters to draw readers in and links to online stores. It will also be available print on demand.
    As a sales trainer I offer this observation.
    ‘Anyone can sell a pound for fifty pence’. And – ‘In sales there is no such thing as price. There is only VALUE which is created by the person selling and perceived by the person buying’.

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