Straight From the Author’s Mouth: Book Selling Secrets Revealed

934 If it’s one question that is asked more than any other question that authors ask me about book promotion, it’s “How can I make more sales?”  That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

The problem with finding a direct answer is that it can get complicated.  What might work for one might not work for another.  The best advice I can give is to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before the book is even published.  The cover is one of the most important assets an author can have.  As shallow as that sounds, a book cover can make or break a sale.  The second asset would be to have a terrific professionally written blurb.  The third is as important as the others and that is the price.  Make it affordable; but yet, don’t price it too low or your potential book buyers won’t take it serious.

That’s my advice, but let’s hear what authors have to say about it.  I asked several authors of all genres what is one thing they have done that actually resulted in more sales.  This is straight from the author’s mouth on how they have sold books:

If I think what was the best publicity that has moved books, I think I’d have to say it’s Facebook. Having a book page enabled me to not only reach new readers, but also converse with them. That community-feel helped introduce more fans and readers than I could have imagined.

I had great success with my book blast. I wrote a post that included a blurb, excerpt, author note, and links and lined up some author friends who all agreed to post the info on the same day. I saw a big jump in sales.

Besides pleading with my family to buy the book, the one thing I can point to is the interview on the Nighttalker Radio Network.

If I could find one thing that boosts sales I would continually do that thing. However, unfortunately I think it’s much more complicated than that. I think you have to do a variety of things–pretty much simultaneously–to stimulate sales. I’ve found virtual books tours to be very effective. I have a web site and blog and pound away on Twitter every day to reach new readers. I also found that book giveaways stimulate interest. I did a book giveaway on Goodreads and over 1,000 readers added my books to their “to read” list which is encouraging.

I have done signings at traditional bookstores with mixed results. I also did a presentation at a local Lion’s Club that was well received and provided sales and I did a special presentation when we were at an RV park in Alabama that went over well.

Handing out my business cards to everyone I could locally.

Facebook posts! I’ve posted teasers or purchase links and people will actually comment on them that they went and bought the book; or one of my FB friends will share that post and their friends will comment that they bought it. Some of those people sent me private messages after having read my first book or even posted reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads.

People love free stuff. I’ve done a few giveaways that have resulted in a bit of buzz and when people didn’t win, they still wanted to read the book. I plan to do more giveaways, definitely.

The first book festival I attended was the Gaithersburg Book Festival. I was wary of participating, but I received quite a lot of interest and was pleased to sell a handful of copies of The Lost Heir.

When I ordered the first copies of my books, I sold them to members of my church.

I had an amazing Book Launch party. It was invite only and I was overwhelmed with the support. There was about 120 people. Everyone bought a book. ICON Magazine was there to cover it and my book will be featured in their next issue. The kick-off started a chain reaction which I am so excited about. So many great things have come from that one event.

Lining ourselves up with schools throughout the country, either in person or via Skype, has been a big reason for our early success. Whenever we have a store appearance scheduled, we make sure to visit schools in that area beforehand, to get kids interested and let them know that we’re going to be at a store doing signings. Glass House came up with the marketing idea and it’s worked better than we could have imagined.

I noticed an increase in using Amazon’s KDP select program, having giveaways on Goodreads served to increase sales also.

I was having drinks with some friends–friends of friends, actually. One of the guys asked how he could find Hollywood Strip, and I said, “It’s available for pre-sale on Amazon. Matter of fact, why don’t you look it up now, since your Android is out?” He ordered it then and there.

Reaching out to family and friends on Facebook at this point has been most effective.

A local non-profit hosts an annual high-tea fundraiser. Since their audience is socially-conscious and generally well-read, I asked to set up a book-signing table at their event. They were more than willing to have me sell my books there, and I volunteered some of the proceeds from my sales to their cause.

Blog tours have been very successful for me.

I mailed out personally addressed postcards featuring my book cover to family, friends, acquaintances and anyone who signed up for my mailing list on my Web site.

I orchestrated a contest where readers could view five different options for Emma’s wedding cake and write essays about which one she should choose and why. The prize package for the contest included the winner being written as a character into the book to meet Emma and help her choose the final cake design. A beautiful woman – and now a personal pal of mine – named Bonnie Cordova won because her essay compared her long-time marriage to the relationship between Emma Rae and Jackson. It went so well that I’m doing something similar with my River North Contemporary Fairytales series.

I speak quite often for women’s events and retreats, and for writers’ events and retreats. Recently I spoke for a church library regional meeting, talking about the power of story and the value of inspirational fiction in the overall picture of a well-rounded lending library. Many of the librarians left with my books that day, wanting to connect with the stories I talked about and seeing the potential for their library patrons.

I’m profiling the independent bookstores that are hosting signings in my newsletter. That has resulted in advance sales.

I announced my book on facebook and had sales within the hour.

I took a free copy of the book to the local elementary school and gave it to the school secretary; I asked her to pass it on to the fourth-grade teachers when she was finished with it. Some teachers subsequently bought copies and some are talking about buying class sets. I promised to talk to their students if they do.

Be a part of blog tours! You will reach an audience that you may have never reached on your own. There are so many wonderful book blog sites, and a lot of readers and reading groups out there who follow them. When you get a fair and honest review on your book, these potential readers can easily determine if your book is for them. You really need to market your book to its best target audience, and the blog tours do just that!

What are the results from this survey?  Blog tours, Facebook and offline promotions.  Stay tuned for part II in this series next month!