How Do I Sell My Book? An Answer in Four Parts

The most persistent question in the book world is how do I sell my book? F. Scott Fitzgerald thought about it. Maya Angelou thought about it. You’re thinking about it.

To answer that question, let’s start by looking at what all successful authors have done. They have –

  1. Built awareness for their books
  2. Satisfied a particular need for their readers
  3. Made lots of book sales

That’s a nice linear progression. It reads like a narrative in three acts. And maybe that’s a good way for authors to think about how they are going to answer their own how do I sell my book? question.

Getting Results – aka Selling More Books

Books are a funny business. It is the only industry in which, every year, hundreds of thousands of new “products” are introduced. No other industry comes close – not music, not film, not fashion, not software, not video games.

So right off the bat, you’re in a unique position, with a truly unique product.

That, of course, presents definite [understatement alert] marketing challenges to the creator of each of these new products – that would be, of course, you, the author.

Now, the products in those other industries tend to have large marketing budgets helping them compete for attention and dollars. Some books do, too, of course. But we’re assuming if you’re reading this blog post, you’re not one of those authors with a GIANT marketing operation supporting your book.

Rest assured, you’re in good company.

For the author asking “how do I sell my book”, the answer can be found in four parts –  

  1. Mindset – establishing the right frame of mind about your book and its market
  2. Habits – finding your particular book marketing rhythm 
  3. Time commitments – managing the time you dedicate to book marketing
  4. Business applications – using all available book marketing resources

At Storiad, we’re not overly fond of “pie in the sky” theoretical fluff. We’re more partial to “try this, then try that” practical solutions. So without further ado and whatnot, let’s get down to figuring out practical ways to sell more books.

Mindset – Sell Yourself on Selling More Books

As an author, you have a binary choice to make: put forth a sustained effort and sell more books, or don’t put forth a sustained effort and sell less books.

That may be a harsh assessment, but it’s also true: there can only be one of two dueling outcomes: not-so-great book sales vs. great book sales.

We’re assuming you’re of the “I want great book sales” variety of authors, and now present you with an outline of how to establish a good bookselling mindset.

New Perspectives

We are going to establish a bookselling belief system that consists of the following five tenets;

  1. Your book is a true one-of-a-kind asset. Authors should take the best kind of pride in its creation and availability: earned pride. Not only was it produced with creativity, ingenuity and hard work, but it was also perfected, packaged, and made available to the market. 
  1. And yet, perhaps paradoxically, your unique book is also a commodity. You can huff. You can puff. It won’t make a lick of difference. Your book is an economic asset that can generate substantial returns through its sale in many formats.
  1. The market for any given book is potentially vast. Fiction or nonfiction, there are millions upon millions of people out there willing to consider reading your book … once they know it exists.
  1. Selling a book is NOT a zero sum game. A reader buying one author’s book doesn’t preclude her from buying another’s. And, from a personal consumption perspective, It’s safe to say no one buys the same book twice.
  1. In general, readers are not going to come to you. You need to go to them, to introduce your book, to request a review, a recommendation, a sale. 

So what is the Mindset you need to sell lots of books?

I own a one-of-a-kind book asset that people would consider buying once they know the book is available for sale.
And it’s up to me to build the awareness to sell my book. 

Habits – Doing What it Takes to Sell Books

With your mindset all squared away, it’s now time for chat about Effort. That is the operative word. In the interest of saying the obvious, lots of effort, yay, book sales. Not a lot of effort, boo, poor book sales. Simplicity is a virtue.

Organizing your Efforts is a question of establishing an interconnected series of … wait for it … habits: good habits, creative habits, productive habits, and measurable habits.

You want to get into the habit of doing things sequentially, repeatedly, but not in a mindless, rote kind of way. Think of it as developing the necessary skill set to perform an important job. You’re getting into a rhythm that will soon become an integral part of your day (a lot like your writing process, dare we say?)

Habits to Hone

  • Understanding your book’s market –
    • What’s the genre of your book?
    • How popular is your genre?
    • Who are the successful authors in your genre?
    • How did they become successful?
  • Finding the people most likely to want to read, review, recommend, and buy your book –
    • Who are they?
    • Where are they?
    • What’s the best way to reach them?
    • What’s the most enticing message to send them?
  • Packaging your book in an informative, entertaining, enticing way to give your target audience something to –
    • look at
    • read
    • watch
    • listen to
    • connect, interact, and contact with you
    • share with their friends, colleague, network, etc
  • Getting your professional and respectful marketing messages to those people via –
    • email
    • social media
    • networking platform
    • … and then follow-up with yet another professional and respectful note 
  • Making adjustments to your marketing outreach from the reactions your receiving to your marketing message –
    • Is one marketing message resonating more than another?
    • What are people saying about your book?
    • What have you learned from other authors promoting books in your genre?

So what are the Habits you need to sell lots of books?

Get into the rhythm of understanding what the market is for your book, who are the people in that market most likely to be interested in your book, and how best to communicate with them to sell my book.

Time Commitments – Finding the Time to Sell Books

Let’s return for a moment to the idea of getting into a book marketing rhythm similar to your book writing. Establishing a sustainable time commitment should be comparable to the time commitments you’ve established for your writing.

Let’s say you can commit to eight hours per week to marketing your book. Here is a suggested breakdown of how those hours could be productively allocated –

  • Market research (two hours): Finding and organizing contact information relating to those people and organizations most likely to want to review, recommend, and/or buy your book
  • Outreach & follow-up (two hours): Sending professional messages to your contacts asking for review, recommendation, and/or purchase considerations 
  • Networking (one hour): Invite people into your network. Post content (see below). Share information. Ask questions. Provide answers. 
  • Content development (three hours): content creation is the most important part of network engagement. It can take the form of blog post writing, social media posting, and hosting video events with readers.

So what are the Time Commitments you need to sell lots of books?

Dedicate enough time per week to research my book’s market, communicate with the participants,
and engage my professional network to sell my book.

Business Applications – Using the Right Resources to Sell Books

If you want to build a long-lasting book marketing campaign, you will need to have certain tools to perform certain tasks. The tasks can be categorized as follows:

  • Planning
  • Packaging 
  • Researching
  • Messaging
  • Hosting video events
  • Networking
  • Continual learning
  • Performance tracking

Think of assembling your business applications as a narrative on how to tell the story of your book – get organized, package it nicely, find people who seem likely to be interested, tell them about it, and achieve a review, recommendation, or sale.

Spoiler Alert: Everything we describe next is available to authors on Storiad (Please check out the Storiad Features Page for more details).

With that little plug out of the way, here we go.

Planning – Getting ready to sell your book

If you love it when a plan comes together, you’re in luck. 

A practical marketing plan organizes your tasks, establishes your book marketing sales goals,  sets your daily schedule, keeps you focused on moving towards your goal, and, of course, measuring your success  –

  • To Do: Set a sales target (say, 10,000 units sold in Year 1). Then create a practical plan to outline how to –
    • Network with audience of readers, reviewers, and buyers 
    • Research your book’s market
    • Market your book to your audience

Packaging – Making your book stand out in the book market

How you present your book is everything. Make it easy, informative, and entertaining to get to know you and your book –

  • To Do: Get a digital media kit to display your information –
    • Author bio & photo
    • Cover image(s)
    • Book blurb
    • Book’s metadata (e.g. Publisher, publication date, # of pages, ISBN, etc)
    • Book excerpts
    • Existing reviews
    • Video files
    • Audio files
    • Contact information
    • … and where your book is available for sale

Research – Who will want to review, recommend, and buy your book

How are you going to find those people most likely to want to review, recommend, and buy your book?

  • To Do: Use a spreadsheet app (e.g. Google Sheets, MS Excel, etc.) to organize your research to include the following information –
    • Name
    • Title
    • Organization
    • URL
    • Contact method
    • Description of individual/entity 

Messaging – Asking for the review, recommendation, and sale consideration of your book

Take your Research results and message them via email, contact form, or social media –

  • To Do: Use your email to account to contact your target market –
    • Customize your messages to address THEIR needs (NO SPAMMING!)
    • Be professional & respectful
    • Ask for a review, recommendation, or sale consideration
    • Follow-up

Video Events – Realtime interactions with your reading audience

Think of your video event as a virtual bookstore event or author reading at a fraction of the cost. The Covid-19 pandemic has made video meetings second nature. This is a great way to interact with your audience all over the country, if not the world – 

  • To Do: Use a video platform to schedule video events 
    • Schedule the video event a few weeks ahead
    • Market the event via social media, blog posts, newsletter, etc.
    • Record the event and post the recording to YouTube, with links on your author website

Networking – The who & the what of selling books

We will go out on a limb and say it’s both who you know and what you know that makes for good networking. In practical terms, this means you need to know both things and people in order to get your book promoted – 

  • To Do: Use the many social media & networking platforms you’re already on (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to –
    • Provide information
      • Be informative
      • Be entertaining 
    • Ask questions
    • Provide answers

Continual Learning –

The more you know about book marketing, the better book marketer you’ll become, the more books you’ll sell –

  • To Do: Book marketing may not be the proverbial rocket science, but successful authors are serious about acquiring the best practices of book marketing by –
    • Reading blog posts on book marketing
    • Watching videos … on book marketing
    • Reading books … on book marketing
    • Taking courses … on book marketing

Performance Tracking – How

Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Are your book marketing efforts successful? That is are you getting the desired reviews and book sales? Is the money you’re spending on your book marketing efforts giving you a positive return?

  • To Do: Create a Title P&L spreadsheet with a spreadsheet app (e.g. Google Sheets, MS Excel, etc.) to track your efforts 

So what are the Business Applications you need to employ to sell lots of books?

Get organized → Make your book stand out in the market → Find your audience → Communicate with them →
Keep on learning & improving → Measure your progress 

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All right. That’s it. You now should have a pretty good practical outline on how to go about selling a lot more books by concentrating on four things –

  1. Mindset – establishing the right frame of mind about your book and its market
  2. Habits – finding your particular book marketing rhythm 
  3. Time commitments – managing the time you dedicate to book marketing
  4. Business applications – using all available book marketing resources

And of course the friendly people at Storiad are always here to help.

Got questions about how to sell books? Just send us a note

See all the cool book sale stuff Storiad offers: Features Page

Get a Storiad Forever Free account to explore more: Get started on Storiad for free

Bye for now!

The Storiad Team

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