One of my favorite parts of my job is speaking with independent authors and listening to the challenges they face on their paths to success. It’s interesting to hear their perspectives on the tools available to them and what they need to be more successful. One of the most common questions during these discussions is how can I sell more books? As the holidays approached, my colleagues and I began hearing it more regularly and began asking ourselves how can we help them sell more books?
To answer this question, we asked 4,000 of Lulu’s best-selling authors to share the best practices that they've learned on their path to book marketing and sales success. Both the eagerness with which the authors replied to our request and what their responses revealed were eye-opening.
There are enough tips and tricks to fill 35 pages, which the Lulu team has arranged into three intuitive and easy-to-digest sections: Know your Audience; Know your Book; and Know your Plan. The free guide also includes a section called Steal these Resources, wherein we give you access to valuable tools that can help you sell more books.
In the interest of helping self-published authors everywhere make the most of the holiday sales season, I want to share three of the most compelling insights and pieces of advice we gathered from Lulu authors.
1. The most important step towards effectively marketing your product – whether it’s a book or a business or a lemonade stand – is understanding your audience. Nearly 60 percent of the authors we surveyed attributed their success to their book’s subject matter being targeted to a specific audience’s needs. The key questions Lulu authors answered about their target markets are: What is my audience interested in? Where do they spend time online and in the real world? How do they already satisfy their need for content similar to mine (e.g., blogs, magazines, social communities, events, video, etc.)? What can my book offer them that’s not available anywhere else? Good and full answers to these questions form the foundation of for what’s next.
2. Know what attributes of your book will make it stand out and what marketing activities will best highlight these strengths to help drive sales. To help you understand these steps, we asked our authors what made a difference for them. Here’s how authors ranked specific items and the frequency with which they said they were important:
- The book’s title, topic and audience (ties back to #1 above)
- Driving awareness and sales through word-of-mouth
- Having both print and ebook versions available
- Producing a high quality printed book with a great cover design
- Having customer reviews available for buyers to peruse
3. It doesn’t take as much time or money as you think. More than three-quarters of Lulu’s most successful authors dedicated 10 hours or less to the marketing of their book each week. And if you think that sounds like a lot of time, more than 60 percent of them spent five hours or less. That’s just an hour a day spent on marketing that led to the right outcome. And here’s even better news: 65 percent invested less than $500 in marketing their book, while another 7 percent spent nothing at all. Where do they invest their marketing dollars? It goes mainly to advertising, website management, promotional copies, and events. For a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets, you’ll want to have a look at page 25 of the guide.
The full guide, “Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales,” is available for free at success.lulu.com. I invite you to download your copy now. Happy selling!
Dan Dillon is the director of product marketing for Lulu, the company that pioneered the self-publishing industry and paved the way for people around the world to publish books and bring them to market, while allowing authors to retain full control of their work. Lulu has enabled people in more than 225 countries and territories to self-publish nearly two million publications. For more adventures in self-publishing, read Lulu’s blog.