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Last week I wrote about the three-step process to marketing your book. This week we focus on sales.

First, let’s explain the difference between marketing and sales:

Marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects. The sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. Both are necessities to the success of a business. Sales is but one part of the marketing process. (Small Business Notes)

Reach and persuade (or influence) are why we do things like interact on social media, blog, optimize our websites, advertise (though that does go to sales also), guest posts, interviews, and more.

Selling our books is connected synergistically to our marketing efforts. If you do no marketing, will you have any sales? Highly doubtful.

Let’s break down sales as it relates to authors and our books.

PROCESS

Selling is a process. You’ve undoubtedly heard people say that selling books, and your career as a writer for that matter, is a marathon, not a sprint. Yet most authors upload their book, sit back, and wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

If people don’t know about your book, how are they supposed to purchase it? And what are some ways for them to find out? Marketing!

Bingo.

Sadly, marketing means spamming repeated and duplicate links to many authors who haven’t taken the time to learn that they are, in actuality, alienating their potential audience. Remember this: there are as many sales processes as there are books. Many authors aren’t salespeople so don’t kill yourself trying to figure it out. I’m not going to break down pie in the sky sales formulas here because that’s not what I do to sell books.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

Part of the reason I found success early on as a pharma rep (in my former life from which I’ve now recovered thank you), was because I avoided the ‘hard sell’ of ‘feature, advantage, benefit, close,’ at all costs. Instead, I focused on building relationships (to the chagrin of most of my district managers). The more physicians and health care facilities got to know me as a person, the more they were inclined to listen to my message when the time was right. And it worked — I won awards, trips, blah blah.

I did not hit them up all the time, ‘Write my products and here’s why blah blah blah’ because I saw them turn off completely when I or other reps did it. Selling is kind of a weird dynamic: you’re having a stilted conversation about topics that relate to each of you in only the most abstract of ways. Physicians are like anyone else: they have to decide for themselves to write a certain drug. Throwing constant information at them did little to motivate them. That’s why relationship building was critical to my success.

That same concept carries forward today as an author. The authors who provide interactive, interesting content that isn’t the hard sell of ‘Buy my stuff! Here’s my link link link, see see see?’ are the ones we all want to follow, right? Those who do spam their own stuff constantly are the ones we unfollow and run hurriedly from in a different direction.

SELLING TIPS!

Let’s get specific. Here are ways I ‘sell’ without doing the hard sell.

  • Links on bios. Add buy links to your bios on all your social media, your website, blog, guest posts, even tag the pictures on your site. This is more of a passive way to sell your stuff but it makes it easy for people to click if they want to. If you use bit.ly, you can customize and track them. Very useful since Amazon gives out no analytics.
  • Teases. Samples are wonderful. Be sure you activate the ‘Look Inside the Book’ feature on Amazon or other sales channels. Not only does it allow someone to read a bit of your work free before buying, you’re also increasing your visibility in Amazon’s algorithms. If your book isn’t out yet, share on your blog.
  • Fan base. It takes awhile (usually more than one book), but you will develop a fan base or ‘tribe,’ who will be more than happy to spread the word of a new book or promotion on your behalf. There are numerous ways to work with them: show interest in them on social, follow their blogs, have them guest for you, ask them to be beta readers for your upcoming release, invite them to host you for exclusive (typically online) events, create a special newsletter just for fans, etc.
  • Advertising. Google AdWords is hard. I’m not going to lie. It’s complicated and time-consuming. So much so that I make my husband do it! In fact, he’s become SO adept at it; he started a business The AdWords Guy.

Google is the largest search engine in the world, like it or not. I want someone who types in ‘books about (insert keyword)’ to see my (or my clients’) books. And you set your own budget. You can spend as little as $1 to $2 per day.

I like it because it provides a presence and information about my books in more of a passive way. If people want to find out more, they can. Or they can read the free sample.

My final word is this: writing is always the most important thing. BUT you can’t ignore marketing and sales. Even traditional authors have to market and sell their books. Make no mistake: while we say ‘brand the author, not the book,’ you still have to create the book to have something to sell.

That should be enough to fill up your head and create another to do list for now.

Questions? Ask away!