Writing and selling a book successfully must be about one of the most difficult professional tasks in today’s competitive world. As I have found out from my own experience there are many things that can prevent you from hitting it big as an author and bad marketing is one of them.
Creating a bestseller doesn’t lie only in writing an irresistible book. People will have to know that the book is that good to buy it. So even before you write the first word you have to do some strategic thinking along the line of marketability of your book.
I will not bother you with advice on how to write a good book. It is not a topic for one article and is not even our concern in this article. There are many resources online and offline that can teach any aspiring writer or author how to write well.
Our major focus is how anyone (that includes you) can self-publish his book and make it a commercial success (that is sell enough copies to make reasonable profit). I assume if you are reading this that you aim to sell many copies of your book for profit. Even if you are not and are more concerned with getting enough thousand copies of your book out there to boost your career or profession without incurring costs this article may well serve your interests.
As a self published writer what it means is that you are going to publish your book yourself (probably because you can’t get any established publishing house to sign you up). That also means you are going to pay for the book publishing from the typing and cover design process to the actual printing. It is a very challenging task, especially, in the Nigerian market.
First Find Your Idea
If you intend writing non-fiction gone are the days when you just write what comes to mind. You will have to be smart and write on something that will capture the interest of the targeted audience at that period in time. So you’ll have to search and follow trends to discover topics of interest. In other words, you find your market before you write a word. If the potential interest group for which your book is to be written is too small for reasonable sales don’t publish the book. Instead you might try an e-book. That will be cheaper and easier to promote.
Finding the right idea for your book is key to its success in the market.
Create Your Marketing Plan
Marketing plans are not only for businesses. You should have an idea of how you are going to sell your book. Remember if you are self publishing no publisher is taking care of your book promotion and distribution. You will have to find ways to do that yourself and that should be even before you write the book and commit money into its publishing.
Your marketing plan should be simple and easy to implement. What you need here are action steps and not long, useless strategies and statements. Better still you can make a list of 10 ways to market and promote the book and commit to follow them. Some of these promotion you can even start while the book is undergoing publishing. See some promotion tips below and add to them if you can;
a) Make a list of radio and TV talk programs in your area that discusses a range of issues that include the topic your book is about. Get the full contacts of the producers and hosts and begin to follow these programs. It will be better if you can contribute meaningful and vigorously by calling in (if it’s a call in show), sending emails, and responding to questions. If you establish relationships with them then it will be easier to send them a press release when your book is out and get them to invite you for a discussion on the program.
b) Locate viable distribution channels to help push your book and offer them reasonable and attractive commissions. Be creative and sell your books through unconventional distribution channels. You mustn’t sell through a bookshop. For instance, if you wrote a wonderful book on reproductive health (or any health topic) you can approach pharmacy chains, chemist shops and private clinics to help you display and distribute the books on a healthy sales income sharing ratio.
c) If you are a good public speaker prepare to speak before target audiences in seminars and workshops. You will have to identify seminar and workshop organizers and find out what seminars of interest are in the pipeline. You can also propose seminars for institutions and organizations whose members are part of your target market. When I co-authored a book for intending university students we held seminars to sensitize students on University life etc and sold the book to several of the attendees.
Get Help with Cover Design and Printing
The look and feel of your book will determine to a certain extent how people will love to have it. Get the help of professional editors, cover designers and printers to give the finished book a professional look. If you search and bargain well enough you will not need to spend so much to get these services at quality level.
Develop and Utilize Distribution Channels
You cannot sell your book alone. Get help from outlets, shops etc that have steady flow of the kind of audience your book is written for. Work out a favourable arrangement with them to have your book displayed in these outlets.
You mustn’t use only bookshops as your distribution channel. If you wrote a health related book strike a deal with pharmacies and clinics with good client and customer flow and you’ll be surprised to get the fair amount of exposure and sales your book deserves.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Book
These days hardly any talk about marketing and promotion ends without the mention of social media. Such is the effect it is having on our daily lives.
Depending on what demography of the audience your book is targeted at use social media to gain exposure for your book. The prominent ones will be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. In Facebook you can join relevant groups and make friends with the right kind of people who can help promote your book.
You can continue to release snippets sentences and paragraphs from your book as Facebook updates. Link these updates to your book website (if you have one) or blog.
This brings us to the issue of blogging to promote your book.
Create a Blog
Blogging is a difficult one. I speak from experience having blogged for years before starting NairaBrains. Create a blog around your book only if you can cope with the rigours of posting regular and useful content and promoting the blog. Seth Godin’s blog on marketing is a good example of how to create a blog and use it to promote present and future books you write on a particular niche.
Turning a book into a bestseller comes with strategy and planning. This article is just to help you develop the right strategy to sell your next book. You may have to add creative ideas to the ones w have discussed in this article.
Given the benefits of writing a bestseller (financial and professional-wise) think through a strategy and plan before you write the first words of your next book.
Editor’s Note – This article is republished with permission from nairabrains.com.