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You've Written a Book—But, How Do You Sell It?

So you're anxious to make money but acting desperate is not the way to sell books. What if I told you that you should not focus on making money, but on building relationships instead.

How do I sell my book? I want to make money now.

So you’re anxious to make money but acting desperate is not the way to sell books.

What if I told you that you should not focus on “making money” but on building relationships instead. Would you think I’m crazy?

Just like finding the “right” guy—I’m speaking to the single ladies out there—acting desperate is a turn-off. You don’t want to beg and grovel, but you want to come across as proud and confident of your “product.” Oops, did I say, “product?”

So my first question to you is: Are you proud of your book? I mean really proud? Is this a book you could pitch to the President of the United States, or the First Lady with excitement and passion in your voice?

If your answer is “yes,” then I have good news for you: When you have a great “product” and believe in your work, you can sell it. Why? Because it will sell itself.

According to a panel of book agents on Barbara DeMarco Barrett’s show Writers on Writing,

Indie-published authors have to set the bar higher than traditionally published authors. They have to go 'high-end' with their book covers, and their book must be perfectly edited.

These agents pointed out the importance of having an amazing cover and that there are no excuses for a book cover that looks self-published.

I agree with the agents and outsourced my book cover and formatting to a professional company that specializes in book design. I’m proud to recommend 1106 Design.

Now you can move on to the following.

The key to sales is not just one thing, but a mixture of many, which I discovered in the The Frugal Book Promoter, by PR expert Carolyn-Howard Johnson

As she mentions in her book,

BIG WORRY NUMBER SIX: Fear of Marketing. The most pressing fear of all seems to be the fear of marketing.

Here is what I recommend for selling your book. Follow all 3 E’s:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Effort
  3. Entrepreneurship

We’ve all heard that “word of mouth” sells books, and I believe it starts with a grassroots approach. So how do you start?

The answer lies with connecting and caring about people, not just when your book is published, but long before that.

Develop friendships with:

  • famous authors
  • less famous authors
  • editors
  • agents
  • fellow writers
  • your local journalists (via social media)
  • publicists
  • bloggers
  • book store owners
  • and volunteer at your library, especially if they offer an author program
  • volunteer at writers associations

Marketing is about getting to know people and developing meaningful relationships.

The more people you get to know, the more you can tap into your contacts and ask about:

  • Speaking at various groups (libraries, networking groups)
  • Getting sponsors for your book signings and maybe even your book tour
  • Book signings at local coffee shops and other businesses
  • Helping to promote other businesses at the same time as your own events
  • Helping others (for example giving a percentage of your book sales to libraries, or to non-profits.)
  • Attending events that interest you so you can meet new people and get ideas
  • Contacting MeetUp groups online and asking if you can speak at their next meeting
  • Talking to people while standing in line at the supermarket or post office—after all, you never know if they are in a book club, etc.

One easy way, is to strike up conversations with people you meet and tell them about your book. Now I don’t mean being obnoxious and saying, “I wrote a memoir and if you go to Amazon.com you’ll find it.”

I live in a suburban area, and bump into people I know at the supermarket, coffee shops and my gym. I’m good at remembering faces, even after 20 years or so.

The other day, I shopped at Trader Joe’s and bumped into a lady I remembered from somewhere. With a smile, I pushed my shopping cart towards her and said, “Hi, where do I know you from?”

“The gym,” she replies.

“I haven’t seen you in a while, do you still go?”

“I changed to the Aliso Viejo gym,” she said, “I like their cardio equipment there.”

“What about you” she asks.

“I still workout at the same gym, but I’m so busy now since my book was published.”

From there on the conversation turns to my book, what it’s about, and she asks me where she can purchase it. I hand her a bookmark and my business card, and say, “My e-mail is on my card, and I’d love to hear what you think of it.”

I admit, it’s been helpful to get media coverage as people respond better when I tell them I was interviewed on the front page of the OC Register and how my book was labeled a “Hot Read” in OC Metro.

I then ask whether she belongs to a book club, and how I am going to a book club on Friday evening and have another one next week.

“I love answering questions, so please contact me and I shall be happy to come to your club.”

One final piece of advice: Be patient.

Now, if you know me, you’re laughing your head off as I tend to want things done right away. My husband jokes that I’m one of the most impatient people he knows.

Finally, you can always hire a PR person to do the work for you—but you still need to be enthusiastic and interact with your readers, often at public events, if you want to sell books.

What has worked for you? Please share.

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story®”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family—with teenagers— to reconnect on an island in Belize. Her memoir received an honorary mention in the biography/autobiography category at the 2013 London Book Festival.

Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – Sonia Marsh considers herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke.

Sonia welcomes new friends, bloggers, writers and readers at Soniamarsh.com (http://soniamarsh.com) Contact her at: sonia@soniamarsh.com www.facebook.com/GutsyLiving or Twitter.com@GutsyLiving

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