You want to write a book – a very exciting and challenging undertaking. Good for you. You have a great book idea – an idea that you believe needs to be in print. You believe that other people have an interest in what you have to say. You believe that many people will buy your book, and if you do the job of writing correctly, many people WILL buy your book.
It is your dream to have your book in every bookstore in the country, perhaps even in several countries. But wait, have you planned beyond bookstore sales? Many authors are unaware that there are many markets for books beyond the bookstores. The bookstores may be your first market, but there are many other “hidden” markets, and here are some key book marketing tips to help you tap into those markets.
Let’s begin with the job of writing the book. When you put “pen to paper”, it is important that you focus on one audience but write for many markets. Let’s begin by identifying why you are writing a book. Some people merely want to be a published author, giving them claim to a copyright and their name on a book. That is satisfaction enough. They don’t care about the financial return or the development of writing or publishing as a career. Other people just want to write a family history and sell it to their extended family. Some people are interested only in selling to the attendees of their seminars. Many others, however, want to sell thousands of books in as many markets as possible. Decide at the beginning of the writing process why you are writing so that you can determine whether or not you are creating a business venture.
Once you have established your reason for writing, move on to what you are writing about. Don’t try to be all things to all people or the encyclopedic source of all information on a subject. Choose an area of a subject with which you are very familiar and develop your topic well so that you don’t overwhelm or bore your readers. For instance, if you are writing a cookbook, don’t try to be The Joy of Cooking – that’s already been done. Instead, write about a category of recipes, such as heritage recipes, or recipes of a region or culture, or recipes from famous restaurants, etc. Your goal is to make your book different, and better, than other cookbooks.
Having now decided on the why and the what, focus on the who, meaning who will buy your book. You believe that many people will be interested in your book, but let’s define “many”. Do you mean all of the people in your interest group, your church or your workplace, or do you mean everyone? A word of caution, though – there is NO book that is for everyone. Sure, everyone may need your book but not everyone will want it. If your book is a healthy lifestyle cookbook, everyone might need it, but only people who actually want to be healthy will buy it. Do some research on who those people are and where they are likely to actually buy your book. Understand their demographics: age group, income level, shopping habits, activities, etc. Now write for them. What information are your target readers looking for? Is their a gap in the information about a subject that is very familiar to you or in which you have the credentials to fill the gap? Make sure that your book solves a problem or problems for the reader, or make sure that your book will increase the well being of the reader. Avoid falling into the trap of writing to make yourself feel better – you are not the one who will buy your book. Or if you are, you are the only buyer that you will have!
The why, what and who now being defined, you can turn your attention to the where you can sell your book. Because there are many markets for books, decide early in the writing process just what those markets are and write to sell your book in those markets.
It is likely that the first market that will come to mind is traditional book stores, and of course they can be a vital part of your sales. Do your research in getting to know your competition on the book store shelves, i.e., look at the other books that have been written in your genre. What writing style is most appealing to a wide audience? Is there a gap in the information provided in the other books? Are there problems that have not been addressed? Find the needs and fill them. When you are satisfied with the information that you are providing, think about what will attract the book store buyers. They will want to know about your planned publicity campaign. If you want people to buy your book in book stores, you are responsible for letting people know that your book is available, thereby driving buyers to the stores.
Besides book stores, books are purchased in the nontraditional book market by display retailers, book clubs, catalogs, gift retailers, volume buyers (think Costco and Price Club), corporations, foundations and foreign markets. These markets are considered “hidden” because they exist outside the usual bookstore market, yet they account for many millions of dollars each year in book sales. In fact, we sell thousands of books to buyers like these every year (for more about our Book Marketing tips and secrets click here: Book Marketing Tips). These markets, however, do not buy any and every book. They are looking for books that appeal to their customers.
For instance, if you are writing a book about spiritual experiences, think about which of those markets will likely buy your book. Will you approach book clubs? If yes, which book clubs – those that specialize in spiritual books only, or those that market to the general public? Will you approach the gift market or catalogs? Each market evaluates its purchases for its own clientele. Book clubs that target the religious book reader have a greater interest in spiritual books than do general interest book clubs. Volume buyers, catalogs and gift buyers (unless they target a religious market), display retailers and corporations will very seldom buy a spiritual book. Foreign markets, however, are often very interested.
Even if your book is written for the general book trade, you can still think of corporations that might be able to use your book as a promotional item. Make a list of corporations that could be interested in your book and make sure that your writing supports their products or philosophy, and that what you are writing about will solve some problems for the corporate clients. For instance, one cookbook was targeted at busy people who want to follow a healthy lifestyle. It became a bestseller very quickly in the traditional book trade, but sales exploded when it was sold to pharmaceutical companies who used the book as support information for clients who needed to achieve a healthy weight. The book also sold successfully in foreign markets, to catalogs, as fund raisers and to shopping malls as a customer reward.
The point is: you need to know how to slant your writing for your markets. You can sometimes get around the road blocks by giving your book the look and feel of a gift book rather than one that is a “serious read”. Don’t give your book the look and feel of a thesis. Many volume buyers are looking for broad interest books that people buy on impulse as gifts. This approach to writing increases your market tremendously, so if you want to appeal to a very large audience, approach your subject from a much “lighter” angle.
However, if you are a professional speaker who knows that you have a very good chance of selling your book to your seminar attendees, and perhaps to the corporations who hire you, writing for a very broad market is not necessary. You are not even trying to sell to the impulse buyer. Your buyer is already looking for a source of expertise such as yours.
If you are planning to sell your book primarily from a website to a specific type of buyer, someone who is searching the internet for answers to a concern or problem, you can be as specific as you like. The general public, again in this instance, is not your market – you already have enough buyers to make you very successful.
So, before you begin the writing process, make an outline of your book. Then, look at your list of potential buyers. Have you filled their needs? If not, can you add information or chapters to your book that will increase the likelihood of sales to those buyers? If you want to sell thousands of books, think about the end user of your book and write for them, not for yourself. That is the ultimate book marketing tip. See you on the bestseller list!
Ink Tree Ltd. helps authors publish, market and sell books. We have all the tools you need to succeed in book publishing. Let us help you make your book a success. http://www.inktreemarketing.com