There’s no such thing as failure, only results you can learn from. Apply this attitude to maintain your passion for selling books.
Every year, over 1,000,000 ISBNs are assigned to books. A year later, how many of those authors are still actively marketing them? I would venture to say very few. When initial high expectations and valiant efforts result in sales that don’t meet projections, most authors quit to pursue other ventures. Their attitude, like a ball dropped on a basketball court, will bounce lower and lower until it finally rolls to a stop.
Authors who do not reinvigorate their mindsets allow their marketing to roll to a stop. Their books are still on Amazon, but the passion behind them is not. If you are in that position, here are three things you can do to reignite the fire for selling books you once had.
Have realistic expectations
Why did you write your book? Did you write it because you had something to say or was it because you had something people wanted to hear? If the latter, how many people want to hear it? Your answer to that question frames your total market, and your available market is some percentage of that. Authors are generally optimistic about their sales opportunities and believe that percentage is high, but successful authors are optimistic, realistic, and set SMART goals that are:
Strategic. Book marketing begins with a plan based upon the answers to strategic questions such as, “How many titles will I publish? At what price will they be sold? How will they be distributed in traditional and non-bookstore markets? How can I use publicity, advertising, sales promotion, and personal selling techniques to promote them? What will all this cost and how much can I expect to make at the end of the year?
Measurable. If your goal is to sell more books than last year, one more book sold will accomplish that. However, your intention was probably to do more. How many books do you intend to sell this year? Be precise and set a time limit on its attainment. Then you can measure your progress and make changes in strategy and action if necessary.
Attainable. Selling 1,000,000 books by December 31, 2021 is a specific, measurable objective. But even with a sound strategic plan, it is unlikely you will reach it. Set goals within the realm of what is possible for you to accomplish. This does not mean you shouldn’t stretch to meet a worthy objective, just don’t let your optimism exceed your ability to fulfill.
Relevant to your target readers. Do you remember the four “Ps” of marketing from your college classes: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion? These are all aimed at target buyers but look at marketing from the seller’s perspective. Instead, think of your potential customers from the perspective of the four “Cs” of book marketing. Instead of place, think Convenience (location, location, location). Have your books available where your target buyers shop (discount stores, supermarkets, gift shops, etc.) rather than only where you want to sell them (bookstores). Content (not product) recognizes that people buy what you have to say, not the physical book. Communication engages your prospective customers (and gets them to act) rather than promoting at them. And Cost (not price) is the metric buyers consider, especially in non-retail (corporations, associations, military, etc.) sales.
Targeted to buyers’ needs. If you can show people how they can benefit by reading your book, you are likely to increase your sales and revenue. But how can you discover their problems? Use a PAR analysis. This includes a brief description of the Problems relevant to your target readers (the reason you wrote your content), the Actions you recommend they take to rectify their situations, and the Results they can expect if they follow your recommendations.
Learn from failure
You may set SMART goals, but things may still not go your way, which might make you lose heart and quit. Instead, evaluate your actions, make necessary changes, and try again. Statistics show that 95 percent of small businesses fail within their first ten years. However, of the five percent that succeed, 95 percent of those failed in a previous business.
Study your less-than-successful ventures and you’ll realize there’s really no such thing as failure — you simply create a result. For example, during one campaign to get on TV and radio shows, I sent out 500 letters. I was ignored by 490 recipients and rejected by the other ten. I did not fail 500 times, I learned a different way to succeed. I sent a note to the rejections, thanking them for having the courtesy to respond. One actually turned into an on-air appearance. Then I created a business-reply card and re-sent that to the other 490 and got a 33 percent response — and many media appearances.
Leaning on others for help
Steve Jobs said, “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
Create your support team in the form of a mastermind group made up of people who are serious about growing their business. Meet via Zoom at predetermined times and intervals to interact and create strategic advantages for all participants. (Click here to learn about APSS mastermind groups.) A mastermind group is:
- A small, interactive group of people who have experienced the trials and tribulations of successful book publishing and are willing to share their lessons.
- A place to get the answers to questions that you have — or did not know to ask.
- A group of people who want the accountability and inspiration that will take their businesses to a higher level.
- A community in which you can actively participate and get the benefit of differing perspectives to help you achieve your personal and business goals.
- The chance to get one-on-one instruction, input, and feedback for your particular books and business — not just for those similar to yours.
- Your own personal board of directors. Collaborate with a small group of trusted peers to leverage their expertise and experience for the benefit of all.
Three things every fire needs are ignition, fuel, and oxygen. The same apply to authors. Set a goal to ignite your desire to sell more books. Fuel that desire with creativity and passion. When things do not go your way, take a deep breath and try something else.
How To Reinvigorate Your Book Marketing – Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Be SMART In Your Approach To The Non-Bookstore Market
Increase Book Sales By Asking The Right Questions
Creative Thinking Can Open New Possibilities
Selling to Non-Bookstore Retailers