Recently an author inquired about being on my show, "Giving Voice to Your Story." When I asked her for a blurb or topics she felt might be of value to potential listeners, she emailed me a link to where her book could be found and wrote, "I just want a payback for all the hours I put in writing this book."
I found this response to be quite disconcerting even though this author was reaching out to me to help build her platform. After all, selling books is the name of the game. As authors, we have a responsibility to build readership. Who doesn't want to be a well-known author, right? But we have to do the work!
With so much competition, you MUST find a way to stand out from the crowd if you want to sell more books. As one who has been building my platform for almost a year now in preparation for my memoir, Accidental Soldier: What My Service in the Israel Defense Forces Taught Me about Faith, Courage and Love, I would hope that this non-stop work would eventually translate into sales. You might sell some books to your family and friends and that may be good enough for you. But if you want to stretch your online presence, there are five main things you MUST do if you want to sell and promote your books.
1. Engage your audience. Reach out to them online by engaging them with thoughtful questions. Use pictures or chapters from your book to stimulate discussion. Connect themes of your book to issues that your target audience might be facing. You can also post non-book related items. It's been said to post book-related posts 10 percent of the time and non-book related posts 90 percent of the time. I would probably want to switch those numbers around.
2. Make sure you have a saleable book cover. It's been documented and researched that a snazzy and irresistable book cover will sell your book many times over, but many authors tend to skimp this area. This is not something you want to skimp on at all. In this case, many potential readers will judge a book by your cover.
3. Tap into your local market. In our interview from October 30th 2014 Hope Clark talLocal Author Showcase Eviteked about how she used a local place as a character which was responsible for driving sales for her latest mystery. It was a very successful marketing tool. "Don't start searching for complete strangers to support you. Your local market will cheer and support you." Like good platform building, the key is to start sharing your book as you're writing it.
Already I've shared the message of my book on a local writer's group and several Facebook community groups. I have a better chance of spreading my message this way than rushing to my hometown of New York City and shouting, "Hey, promote me! I've got a book out!"
4. Promote other authors. I've promoted many authors via my global radio show, "Giving Voice to Your Story." By associating yourself with credible authors, your readers will associate you as a credible figure. In return, you'll get a string of authors who will be generating a nice buzz about your book. I've found that guest blogging is a nice way to reciprocate authors and in doing so, I've created my own little "writer community."
5. Use word of mouth advertising. Recently I "stumbled" unto a discussion on a writer's group about how some authors were paying substantial amounts of money to help run their book promotion on Facebook. In the end, some unfortunately discovered the hard way, that they were also paying to "boost" their posts. The "likes" were pouring in at about 100 a day which led to a modicum of sales. They discovered that Facebook ads are not necessarily useless or a waste, but that they really needed to be knowledgeable how and how much they were bidding on the ads. They also needed to make sure they were targeting people who are likely to be buyers.
As it turns out, people are paid to sit at computers and click "like" all day long so while one's Facebook fan page might indicate 1,000 likes, authors cannot find out who exactly is "liking" their page!
This is why word of mouth advertising will give you the faster run for your buck. You can start by sprinkling a few testimonials on your site and Facebook Fan page, and people will pick up on the fact that your book is a book worth reading. Testimonials are worth their weight in gold. Don't overlook word of mouth. It can really take you and your book far in more ways than you can imagine right now.
So as you can see, a lot need to happen before you can say, "Buy My Book." Your readers might in fact click on your purchase link but your reader also wants to be engaged. Sometimes, we as authors become numb to that fact.