Every year over 1,000,000 ISBNs are assigned to books, but a year later, how many of those authors are still actively marketing them? I would venture to say very few. When initial high expectations and valiant effort result in few sales, most authors quit to pursue other ventures. Their attitudes become exhausted, like a ball dropped on a basketball court. If left unattended, it will bounce lower and lower each time until it finally rolls to a stop.
Authors’ attitudes fade similarly. Those who do not reinflate their mindsets allow their actions to roll to a stop. Their books are still on Amazon, but the passion behind them is not. If you are in that position, here are three things you can do to reignite the fire you once had.
Have realistic expectations. Why did you write your book? Did you write it because you had something to say or was it because you had something people wanted to hear? If the latter, how many people wanted to hear it? Your answer to that question would frame your total market, and your available market is some percentage of that. Authors are generally optimistic about their sales opportunity and believe that percentage is high. But successful authors are optimistic, realistic and set SMART goals:
- Strategic. Book marketing begins with a plan based upon the answers to strategic questions such as: How many titles will I publish? At what price will they be sold? How will they be distributed in traditional and non-bookstore markets? How can I use publicity, advertising, sales promotion and personal selling techniques to promote them? What will all this cost and how much can I expect to make at the end of the year? How will all that position my business for future growth?
- Measurable. If your goal is to sell more books than last year, one more book sold will accomplish that. However, your intention was probably to do more. How many books do you intend to sell this year? Be precise and set a time limit on its attainment. Then you can measure your progress and make changes in strategy and action if necessary.
- Attainable. Selling 1,000,000 books by December 31, 2021 is a specific, measurable objective. But even with a strategic plan it is unlikely you will reach it. Set goals within the realm of what is possible for you to accomplish. This does not mean you shouldn’t stretch to meet a worthy objective, but only that your optimism should not exceed your ability to fulfill.
- Relevant – to your target readers. Do you remember the 4 Ps of marketing from your college classes: Product, Place, Price and Promotion? These are all aimed at target buyers but look at marketing from the seller’s perspective. Instead, think of your potential customers from the perspective of the 4 Cs of book marketing. Instead of Place, think Convenience (location, location, location). Have your books available where your target buyers shop (discount stores, supermarkets, gift shops, etc.) rather than only where you want to sell them (i.e., bookstores). Content (v Product) recognizes that people buy what you have to say, not the physical book. Communication (v Promotion) that engages your prospective customers (and gets them to act) rather than promoting at them. And Cost (v price) is the exchange that buyers consider, especially in non-retail sales (corporations, associations, military, etc.)
- Targeted to buyers’ needs. If you can show people how they can benefit by reading your book, you are likely to increase your sales and revenue. But how can you discover their problems? Use a PAR analysis - a brief description of the Problems relevant to your target readers (the reason you wrote your content), the Actions you recommend they take to rectify their situations and the Results they can expect if they follow your recommendations. Stop selling your book and sell what your content does – then you can sell more books.
Learn from failure. Authors may set SMART goals, but things may still not go their way. Then in a few months they lose heart and soon quit. Instead, evaluate your actions, make necessary changes and try again. Statistics show that 95% of small businesses fail within their first ten years. However, of the 5% that succeed, 95% of those failed in a previous business.
Learn from your less-than-successful ventures (otherwise known as failures). There is really no such thing as failure – you simply create a result. For example, during one campaign to get on TV and radio shows I sent out 500 letters. I was ignored by 490 and rejected by the other ten. I did not fail 500 times – I learned a different way to succeed. I sent a “thank-you” note to the rejections, thanking them for having the courtesy to respond. One actually turned into an on-air appearance. Then I created a business-reply card and re-sent that to the other 490 and got a 33% response – and many media appearances.
Leaning on others for help. Steve Jobs said, "My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people."
Create your support team in the form of a mastermind group made up of people who are serious about growing their business. Meet via Zoom at predetermined times and intervals, to interact and create strategic advantages for all participants (Learn about APSS mastermind groups here www.bookapss.org/MastermindGroup.pdf
). A mastermind group is:
- A small interactive group of people who have experienced the trials and tribulations of successful book publishing – and are willing to share their lessons.
- A place to get the answers to questions that you have or did not know to ask.
- A group of people who want the accountability and inspiration that will take their businesses to a higher level.
- A community in which you can actively participate and get the benefit of differing perspectives to help you achieve your personal and business goals.
- The chance to get one-on-one instruction, input and feedback for your particular books and business – not just for those like yours.
- Your own personal board of directors. Collaborate with a small group of trusted peers to leverage their expertise and experience for the benefit of all.
Three things every fire needs are ignition, fuel and oxygen. The same apply to authors. Set a goal to ignite your desire to sell more books. Fuel that desire with creativity and passion. When things do not go your way, take a deep breath and try something else.