I love the enthusiasm of authors who are new to publishing. After months or years of work on their book, many are rightfully proud of what they have created.
It's no easy thing to finish writing a solid, salable book. Pretty easy to start, not so easy to finish, and you should be proud of that accomplishment.
The problem comes in when, after publishing the book, authors start to wonder why they have sold so few copies. Don't other people realize how great the book is?
Well, the fact is that most authors don't intuitively understand why books sell. This leads them to start thinking about buying advertising or other efforts that usually end up with less money in their pockets than when they started, and not many book sales either.
Here's the secret that savvy book marketers understand, and that most authors don't:
No one knows in advance which books will sell and which won't sell.
This is just as true for big traditional publishers with huge marketing departments as it is for huge Hollywood movie studios and big conglomerate television channels, so don't feel too bad about it.
All the advertising, promotion and marketing in the world cannot guarantee that real actual people will buy your book.
And why is that? I bet you can find the answer in your own book-buying habits. That's because most people buy books based on the recommendation of someone they know and trust. And you can't buy those recommendations, can you?
This is the holy grail of book marketing, the "word of mouth" influence that travels directly from one individual to another.
By extension, it can also work for trusted book reviewers or others in the media who have earned readers' trust, but it rarely extends past that.
For instance, I just read a fantastic nonfiction book I had never heard of before, never been advertised to me, never been the subject of a book trailer or TV ad.
Why? Because a friend read it and took the time to write to me to tell me how much they thought I would enjoy it.
This leads to a big question for authors, and that is how do you get that word of mouth marketing working for you?
Of course, if I had scientifically worked out how to do that, I'd be selling it to some big publisher for a gazillion dollars, wouldn't I?
But there are things we, as self-published authors, can do to get word of mouth started. You might boil it down to this:
1. Write the best book you possibly can, and get an editor to make it better
2. Make sure the book speaks to the audience you wrote it for, and let readers judge whether you've hit your target.
3. Get your book in front of enough people who don't know you to get the ball rolling.
Figuring out how to do this is why people hire professional book marketers, and that's a smart move.
It also pays to really understand how publishing works, how to create books your readers really want to buy.
That's one of the reasons I've been working on a series of videos that explains some of the things you'll need to know in this new world of author-publishers.
In these free and content-rich videos I’ll be passing along some of the lessons I've learned in over 30 years of book publishing experience.
If that sounds interesting to you, head over there now and check them out. The first video is called the 8 Keys to Self-Publishing Success Today.
Whether you're ready to market a book right now or not, I hope you'll take those three steps outlined above to heart. Self-publishing is a whole lot more fun when you have readers, and your message is too important to let it go unread.
About the Author
Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) is an award-winning book designer, a blogger, and the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He’s been launching the careers of self-publishers since 1994 and writes TheBookDesigner.com, a popular blog on book design, book marketing and the future of the book. Joel's also just about to launch a new online training course, The Self-Publishing Roadmap.