Monday, March 16, 2009

When Marketing Your Book, Don’t Look for Readers!

Many of the books and articles I read on marketing your book speak about finding out who will want to read your book. This is all part of finding a niche, identifying an audience for your book, etc. But I say this is wrong! If you want to sell your book, you don’t want to find people who will read your book, you want to find people who will buy your book.

But you ask, “How can people read my book unless they buy it?”

Many ways… a reader can borrow it from a friend or a library. He or she may receive it as a gift from a loved one or their company may have purchased it for them to read.

Readers are not necessarily buyers. Buyers are not necessarily readers. But all buyers are buyers. (You might have to think on that one for a minute.) So it stands to reason that if you market to the later group (the buyers), you stand a better chance of selling your book.

For instance, when you market your book to libraries, you are not marketing to readers, your are marketing to the library’s buyer of books. Libraries don’t read books, they buy them for their patrons to read.

This is even more evident if you write children’s books. Not too many children buy their own books. Parents, grandparents, schools, aunts, uncles… adults are usually the ones who buy children’s books for children to read.

Bryan Fields ( discovered this when he was marketing his children's book, Lunchbox and the Aliens (Henry Holt, 2007). This book is about a basset hound who is abducted by aliens and saves the world. What group would buy his book? Obviously parents of elementary school aged children. But Bryan hit on a unique group that no one had thought of before. Basset hound lovers. Bryan, who owned a basset hound, was aware of several basset hound groups, both online and off. When he announced his book with these groups, they went crazy for it. These loyal basset hound lovers were willing to buy anything having to do with their favorite canine. I’m sure many of the books that were purchased were never read, but they were bought and possibly ended up with the corners chewed!

Super salesman, James Megellas, sells so many books at his book signings that he is always in demand at the Books-A-Million in Grapevine, Texas. James’ book, All the Way to Berlin, is about his experiences as the most decorated officer of World War II. Whenever people pass his table, he’s not thinking “reader,” he’s thinking, “buyer.” He asks questions like, “Are you a veteran?” Maybe this person will purchase my book from a fellow veteran. If not, then he asks, “Do you know a veteran?” Perhaps this person will buy the book as a gift for someone they know.

I know… you want people to read your book, but before you can get it into the hands of readers, someone has to buy it. And that’s what you should be doing when marketing your book – getting the buyers to buy it. Change the focus of your book marketing efforts from the reader to the buyer. It could make the difference between ho-hum and best-seller in the book world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mailing Lists: Create a Built-in Audience for Your Book

Have you ever bought anything at Radio Shack? If you have, you know that the salesperson nearly always asks you for your name and address. This is for no other reason than to put you on their mailing list. Radio Shack discovered many years ago that the best marketing they could do was to send a monthly sales catalog to their existing customers – someone who had already bought something from them was more likely to buy from them again.

You too can use this same marketing strategy for selling your books. Sort of…

Obviously, you won’t have sales clerks everywhere gathering names and addresses for you, so you’ll need to go about gathering your mailing list together a bit differently than the way a retail store would do it. You have two places to do this. On the Internet and… not on the Internet. You’ll want to do both. Here are some suggestions on how you might do this.

Not on the Internet

Create a form for people to fill out. Gather their name, address, and email address. Include a check box on the form for them to give you permission to send them emails. Here’s a sample:




Email: ____________________________________

[ ] Yes, send me email updates about your next book!

Now get people who buy your books or who are interested in what you have to say to fill out this form or to give you this information. How do you do that?

One way to start your list is to do so like that annoying friend who sells (insert your favorite annoying MLM, door-to-door, or party company, i.e. Amway, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Melaleuca, Herbal Life, etc.). They started their list by gathering all the contact information they already had for their friends and family. Then they called each one to try to get them to sell (annoying company’s product or to have a party) which caused reactions like, “Dan’s coming, hide!” Your friends and family will want to avoid you too if you are selling the miracle cure that cleans your pores with magnets and rain forest tree bark, but they will probably enjoy hearing from you about your latest book. So start with friends and family. You will have a big head start if you keep an address book.

Have the form available for people to fill out at book signings, places where you speak, or wherever you may be promoting your book or yourself. Have a door prize or some such thing to encourage people to give you their contact information.

On the Internet

This can be easy if you are a techno geek who programs your own website. If not, you may have to get some help from your webmaster.

Add a form on your website similar to the paper form above. Try to capture as much contact information as you can from your visitors. Name and email at a minimum, but mailing address too if you can.

How do you get visitors to fill out the form?

You could start an email newsletter and use this form for them to sign up. You could give away a white paper, ebook, or an excerpt from your novel.

All this is much easier if you use a service like They make it easy to capture contact information and to send out emails to your list.

Okay. I have a list, now what?

With a list in hand, you now have one of the most powerful sales tools in the world. Protect it with your life. Make backups, print it out, put a copy in your safety deposit box. The value of your list is… priceless. Just think about what it would mean if when you are pitching your next book to a publisher you could say, “Oh yes, I have a mailing list of 10,000 fans who are dying to read my next book.”

I’ll talk more about what to do with your list in another installment.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Tiny Change That Can Make a Huge Difference in Book Sales

Jackie King sent an email to a few on her mailing list announcing her new book with no response. She made one tiny change to her letter and sent it to a few more and immediately sold two books.

Here’s what her first email looked like:

Dear Friends and Readers:

My latest book, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, is now available in bookstores, online, or from AWOC.COM Publishing. The story begins with this paragraph:

“Grace Cassidy stared at the stranger’s body. He was about sixty, pot-bellied, naked, and very dead. She knew he was dead because his skin was the color of concrete. Worst of all, he was lying smack dab in the middle of her bed.”

The story in a nutshell:

…No credit cards, no cash, no resources, no job skills. Fleeced and abandoned by her husband, Grace Cassidy learns she is the prime suspect in a bizarre murder.

What is being said about The Inconvenient Corpse:

"A naked corpse in her bed is only the first surprise for our heroine in Jackie King’s charming bed-and-breakfast mystery. Cozy readers will be happy guests among these lively characters."
Marcia Preston, winner of the 2004 Mary Higgins Clark Award

"If you like bed and breakfast settings, friendly cats, delightful, quirky characters and a little tea thrown in with your murder, you’ll love The Inconvenient Corpse."
Bob Avey, Author of Beneath a Buried House and Twisted Perception

Free postage for a limited time from:
Or order direct from AWOC.COM, P.O. Box 2819, Denton TX 76202,
Phone 1-940-395-2836 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-940-395-2836      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Also available from:


This is a really good sales letter – it tells me everything I need to know to make a decision to buy the book. It even has a couple of really good endorsements and tells me where I can purchase the book. Plus, since I am receiving this email, I’m probably on Jackie’s email list because I’m interested in hearing when her next book is coming out.

No one bought the book… at least she couldn’t tell if anyone did. Why?

For one thing, the most desirable place to buy the book is AWOC Books… but there is no link for someone to buy it immediately online.

There are links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but these links just go to the main websites. Once you are there, you have to do a search to find the book.

In other words, Jackie didn’t include the link(s) to the book’s landing page.

Make it easy for people to buy your book and they will.

Here’s what the last part of Jackie’s letter looked like after she made the changes.

Free postage for a limited time from
Or order direct from AWOC.COM, P.O. Box 2819, Denton TX 76202,
Phone 1-940-395-2836

Also available from:


Barnes & Noble

After Jackie tested this email with a few on her list and saw that it would work, she was ready to send it out to the rest of the list. Make it easy for someone to buy your book. In any sales literature, business cards, bookmarks, emails, or ads, include the URL to your book’s landing page. You’ll see a significant jump in sales.

For more on landing pages see the post: The Landing Page: Why You Need One to Promote Your Book on the Internet