One of the most frustrating parts of being an author (and really running any kind of business) is dedicating the time and effort to marketing, but not seeing any sales results.
While social media can be fun and maintaining a blog has some therapeutic benefits, the reality of these tactics is that you would like to attract people – real life readers if possible – who might be interested in buying your books.
But no matter how often you post or how much you spend on ads, your Amazon ranking remains stagnant and your cash flow is more like a cash trickle.
Mechanically you may be doing everything right, but there are some character traits you may be infusing into your marketing that are holding you back.
A majority of the authors I have met are humble beyond belief. They are gracious about opportunities, they gush over fans and they do everything they can to be the best writer they can be for their audience.
I love these people and their modest demeanors, but the reality is that whether you’re selling books or you’re selling cars, there is a certain level of guts and a confidence required to make that transaction happen.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and to tell the world “Hey, I have a book and you should buy it!” You don’t have to rent a waving arm inflatable tube man, but you also can’t hide the fact that you are selling a good product. Share reviews, post news about awards you receive and validate your request so that your “buyers” can feel confident and then step right up and ask them to buy.
Review your recent marketing activity. Does any of it point your readers towards purchasing your book? You can make mention of your books without being overbearing, but if you’re so gracious that you never discuss having something for sale, you can’t be too surprised when no one ever buys.
Yes you are an artist. Your work would never come to fruition if you weren’t, but your purchasing audience may not be on the same page as you. Being a reader does not an artist make.
If your messaging is constantly directed at the writing and artistic community, you may struggle to connect with your everyday fan. Find a way to discuss your art in a conversational tone instead of diving into the deepest parts of your passion.
So often I see authors’ Facebook pages and email newsletters chocked full of the flowery and fantastical elements of their work. And despite the fact that they are being true to who they are, they aren’t speaking the language of their readers. Marketing isn’t just another receptacle for your passion. Make sure you understand who you are talking to in your marketing messaging.
Often authors find themselves stranded on an island just off the shore of “too humble.” You have recognized that you need to introduce some sales tactics into your pursuits, but you’re still very nervous about actually asking people to buy anything.
So instead of making it known that you are selling a book, you settle for clever and try to trick your audience into making a purchase without crossing the invisible line into sales.
For example, instead of posting a link to Amazon and telling your Facebook audience to “Pick up my latest novel here!” you post a teaser that reads more like this “Word on the street is a certain author you know has a book out just in case you planned on being on Amazon today…”
You’re saying the same thing in both messages, but in the first instance, it is abundantly clear how to purchase your book and in the second, you leave a lot of guesswork in the hands of your audience. Be direct and forthcoming when you’re asking your audience to buy your book. You don’t have to badger them, but you also can’t dance around the topic.
Maybe the problem for you isn’t that you are unwilling to ask your audience to buy your book. Maybe the real problem is that the only time your audience hears from you is when you are asking them to purchase.
If you are inconsistent in your marketing messages and go months without communicating only to resurface with a request for them to buy, you aren’t creating the type of community that will lunge at a shopping cart.
A big part of marketing are all those times where you are just talking to your people. You are getting them to trust you, to laugh with you, to think on your words and to enjoy your conversation. All of that groundwork makes it acceptable to occasionally ask your audience if they would buy your book. But if you are only appearing around your book’s publication days and then you vanish when the momentum winds down, you are likely being ignored (or worse) becoming disliked by your audience that was hoping for a little something more when they entered your marketing funnel.
There are authors who are humble and therefore don’t feel the desire to ask for sales because they are just grateful to be published. And then there are the introverts, who secretly want the sales, but are just far too bashful to ask.
A lot of times, these authors spend all their time promoting other people, and forget to shine a little light on themselves. While it is wonderful to promote your fellow writer friends (and I strongly encourage it), if you are constantly diverting attention away from yourself, then odds are you are selling someone else’s books.
If you’re worried you’re not good enough to ask for sales and you feel you have more badges to earn before you can promote your work then you are doing yourself a great disservice. A lot of the really successful authors are achieving what they do because they aren’t afraid to turn the focus towards themselves and their work when it really matters.
Marketing isn’t just about using the right tools and spreading your voice far and wide. It’s about your messaging and your audience. If you aren’t focused on what you are saying and who you are saying it to, the odds that you will get great results out of the efforts are slim.
Great marketing can lead to bona fide sales. But if you are ducking and dodging the sales tactics on social media, your website, your blog and other endeavors, you aren’t helping your audience get from point A to point B.
Continue to be your humble and happy self, but don’t be afraid to occasionally ask for a little something in return.