To sell more books consistently, decide who your audience is and solve a pressing need.
Really, it’s that simple.
You are not going to consistently sell more books by harassing people; you’re going to sell more books by helping people. And I don’t just mean the help your book might provide, I mean you personally.
First, you have to decide who your audience is. It can be a messy process, or it can be simple; it depends a lot on who you are. Typically the process goes like this: You know what you are passionate about or what you are good at, but you are not sure who would be interested or what you should offer. You know you want to write a book, but few people get by on book sales alone.
To make more money from your book, you need a business mindset.
Let’s say you run a sustainable farm, and you sell grassfed beef to local farmer’s markets. You are passionate about the benefits of naturally raised beef and you want to write a book about it. Who is your audience and what is their pressing need?
Your audience, you argue, is anyone who eats beef, meaning just about everyone. That is too broad. You need an audience you can connect with.
If you narrow your audience to people who are already aware of the health benefits of organic or local food, people who shop at food co-ops and stores like Whole Foods, you not only have an audience you can more easily reach and connect with, but you do not have to spend as much energy educating. They are already aware of the importance and value of healthy food.
What is your audience’s pressing need? Many people in your audience focus on vegetables, just like most farmer’s markets focus on vegetables. Your audience might feel a little ignorant about healthy meat and why it’s so important, and they have trouble justifying the expense. You have answers to those concerns and you know how beneficial naturally raised beef can be in someone’s diet. You can help your audience see what a pressing need this really is.
Once you decide who your audience is and have determined the pressing need you can help them with—you now have to connect with them and give them something of value on a consistent basis. The heart of this system is your blog, which also includes a way for new members of your audience to sign up. You are going to create useful content on a consistent basis (even if it’s only once a month), and you are going to promote it to get it front of people who are not part of your audience yet. The whole purpose of your blog is to build trust and demonstrate how you solve a pressing need for your audience. The main goal of your blog is to get people to sign up to your mailing list. There is obviously a lot more to this system, and I’ll cover that in another article soon.
But what about the business mindset? Book sales alone will probably not justify the energy and expense put into writing a high-quality book and having it published. In our example, the author/business owner has three main paths they could follow. I recommend doing all three.
Three Paths to More Business
Path One, because they are a local business with local customers, is to flood their local market with this book. Sell it to local bookstores at cost so they can sell it at a low price and sell more of them. Sell them at your farmer’s markets and healthy food stores at cost. Give them away if you need to. Help local media outlets spread the word about your book. In this path, you are most concerned with getting the message to as many members of your local audience as possible, because this will increase demand for your grassfed beef and you will increase your existing business, possibly dramatically.
Path Two is to partner with other producers of grassfed beef. Create a different version of your book for each local market. For example, you might partner with a producer of grassfed beef in Nashville, TN. Instead of promoting your own grassfed beef in the book, you write a different chapter that talks all about the Nashville farmer and how to buy their beef. Create an information product that teaches grassfed beef farmers how to do what you did in Path One. Use audio and video and create checklists and worksheets. Write a manual that documents your process. Create three different packages with three different prices with the high end product including access to you. Using CreateSpace, you can set up a private order page for each special version of your book, and then earn more income when your farmer-customer orders a few hundred copies to distribute locally.
Path Three is to expand your business even more. You will sell your book on places like Amazon and you will have a worldwide audience, and although it’s possible to ship your grassfed beef across the world, it’s much easier to expand your business digitally. What additional products or services can you offer? This is where you get creative. Can you write more books? Perhaps a recipe book? Are there online classes you can create? Other related products or information? Other partnerships you can form? There are many options.
Never lose sight that building your audience is your most important marketing job. You can’t help anyone or sell anything without an audience. Everything you do needs to support building your audience.
Your Homework Assignment
Step 1: If you haven’t decided exactly who your audience is, do that right now. Don’t make it too broad. Better to have one tight niche than say you serve everyone or all women or some such thing. It’s okay to have multiple audiences, if each one you describe is a tight niche. For example, your audiences might be people who shop regularly at food co-ops, natural food stores, and farmer’s markets. Those are different niches, but they are all focused and related.
Step 2: Determine what pressing need your audience has that you can help them with. What causes them pain? What is their passion? What are you already good at or knowledgeable about that you can teach your audience? You don’t have to be a master, you just need to be a teacher.