Book-selling Basics for Self-Published Authors

The New York Times reported that “only a small fraction of self-published authors sell enough books to make a living, and many are put off by the drudge work and endless self-promotion involved.” Writing your book is a great achievement, publishing it is enough work already but selling and distributing it? That’s where more work is needed.
 
Why most Self-Published authors end up selling just but a few hundred copies of their book, is because of a misconception that the author’s work is to write and get published. No matter how great your book is, if you don’t get the word out – to the right readers and using the right channels, your book will end up only in the hands of family and friends.
 
 
Your lamp is already lit, don’t cover it or put it under the bed. Put it up on a lampstand and let people see the light so they may glorify your Father in heaven. For God’s glory. And only for God’s glory.
 
 
HERE ARE TIPS TO GET YOU INSPIRED TO FIND THE PATH THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU:
 
Pre-Launch
1. Write a good book and publish it well.
For more information look at an earlier post https://muthoniomukhango.kenyaclc.org/?p=1
 
2. Build Relationships and Networks
  • Look for influencers in your area for Reviews and Endorsements.
  • Seek to create value for other people in your networks and do not be self-seeking. In any relationship, in as much as you can see what the other party can do for you, be keen to also think through what you can do for them.
  • Use your position in career or business or ministry to advance your book project. Where you are in life is not by accident. God is very intentional in everything He does. You are in that position for a reason. Use it wisely to open doors for your book project.
 
3. Engage Your Audience and Be Personal
As you interact with both existing and potential readers, do it confidently because:
  • You have a life story and message that matters.
  • You have a calling inside you that knows you are here to make a difference.
  • You have a unique talent that no one else
You can do this by using your book excerpts to generate interest in your content. Have book reviews from authority figures and influencers in your area of interest. You can either have your blog or be hosted by others in your networks who run blogs. Do Media interviews on TV, Radio, Newspapers, and Magazines to gain more exposure.
 
4. Decide on a Marketing Strategy and Stick to it – the book won’t work if you don’t work
If you’ve been using the traditional marketing funnel, you may have noticed that it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Maybe it’s all the marketing and advertising noise that bombards us from everywhere. Whatever the reason, we need to do marketing differently.
 
Authors can decide to either take a broad approach, trying to appeal to anybody and everybody, hoping something will stick. Or only reach out to “warm” markets who are already looking for the solution we provide and are one trigger away from making a purchase.
 
The broad approach makes us spend way too much money and effort to get precious few buyers. And the warm approach makes us miss the opportunity to reach those who are early in their buying journey.
 
I recommend you critically put a marketing strategy in place. Based on what your goals and objectives are, even a simple plan will give you a lot of mileage. The quote, “if you don’t plan, you plan to fail” holds very true. If you have no plan to work towards, you will never be able to evaluate if you are making progress or not.
 
One plan does not fit all. You are unique, your book is unique, your target readers are unique. What will work for one author may not work for another. Don’t copy flashy strategies out of your reach (moneywise and timewise). It’s better to apply simpler strategies you can execute well.
 
To ensure you don’t lose sight of your book project, dedicate a few hours per week to think about your book. You can ask your family or friends to hold you accountable for progress.
 
Don’t feel bad about selling your book – people gauge your value based on how you value yourself. You will get a lot of feedback from various quarters. You have to decide what to receive and what to ignore. You are not called to every reader – so not everyone will get you or your message.
 
5. Set up on Social Media
  • Website
  • Facebook Personal or Page
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
 
6. Maximize your distribution channels
When you set up on e-commerce platforms, you guarantee yourself passive income. You will still need to do some marketing on those platforms, but the books will sell whether you are there or not.
 
Some of the platforms include:
  • Amazon (endure you do campaigns every often)
  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (You can start by participating in ‘Also Boughts’. Amazon will allow free downloads every 5 out of 90* days. Although you may not get paid directly, your book will get mileage. During such days, ask your readers to download the book for free. This will push your book to the top of the visibility list on Amazon.
  • Snapplify
  • eKitabu
  • Other online selling platforms worldwide (think global)
 
7. Visibility
Display your book in as many bookshops as will allow you. You still have to do marketing to drive traffic to these bookshops so you can make sales.
 
8. Set Up Payment Structures
Ensure that you have dedicated structures where readers can make payment for book purchases. With the advances in technology, it looks unprofessional to receive money on personal e-wallets.
  • For Mpesa, you can use Kopokopo
  • For Visa payments, you can use Pesapal.
 
9. Manage Logistics
If you have to courier books to your readers directly, use a Courier Services company. This will free your time so you can focus on improving your book project strategies or on writing the next book.
 
If you are too committed to business, ministry or career, you can outsource the selling to a company or hire full-time personnel to deal with book sales or just purpose to be actively involved.
 
Post-Launch
So the book is out, yay! So the launch was great (or maybe not, that’s ok). Let’s start the work to get the book in every reader’s hand that needs to hear God’s message through you.
 
Here are a few tips:
1. Audio Visual
This is where the world is at. Whatever platforms you decide to use, generate content at least once every month.
  • Podcasts
  • Youtube
 
2. Get online and Embrace Technology
It’s not super simple though – especially if you are not tech-savvy or if you are intimidated by technology at all.
 
Keep an open mind to learn new things and new ways to do things. You can seek help from family and friends who are more comfortable in this area.
 
3. Find the Watering Holes
In your marketing strategy, find places where most of your readers would congregate. It’s easier for you to go to them than to bring them to you. Some of the ways you can get large groups of people are:
  • Book Programs
  • Speaking Engagements (speak on other people’s stages
  • Corporate Partnerships
 
4. Automate
  • MailChimp for Emails
  • Facebook Posts
  • YouTube
  • Webinars and Online Meetings
 
5. The Watermelon versus the Grape – decide what you want.
 
6. Craft your Messaging and Stick to It
  • Start small and build from bottom-up. Do not despise the days of little beginnings.
  • Have tenacity – things might not work at the first try, so do it again. And again. Until you get the breakthrough you desire.
  • Your Book’s Story should be to help people become who they have always dreamed of. This message is already in the content of your book. You are solving a problem and offering solutions to your readers.
  • Your Personal Story – Raw and vulnerable storytelling with credibility built-in gives your readers that assurance that you, the author are as human as they are.
  • Case Stories About Your Clients – Share what others are saying about your book. This Handles 90% of the objections from new or potential authors. Human beings are happy to dive into the river because they know others have dived in. Give them that assurance.

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