This is another one of those posts that I really hesitate to write because it would be nice to live the myth that publishing my first book equates to instant success. But I’ve always tried to tell the real story here, even when it’s not so pretty. So here goes…
Sigh… my business life was so simple when I started out as a copywriter. I could reach out to thousands of contacts in my database, and I just needed a handful of people to engage my services, and POOF — I was making a living. When I had ten active clients, I was swamped with work. So a 1% or less response rate was fine with me.
But now I’m an author, and I need to sell books. Lots of books. Thousands of books. Which means that if I have 5000 people connected to me through various means, and 1% buy the book, I’m in horrible shape.
And right now, frankly, I’m kinda in horrible shape. The publishing world is black and white. If you sell enough books, you’re a good bet for other books. If you don’t, you’re not going to get other contracts. So if this book doesn’t do well, my life as an author may be over before it begins. I’m really not counting on becoming rich from the book sales — it’s the speaking gigs that will help me make a living. But being an author makes me a more desirable speaker, so I need to sell some books.
I’m not trying to brag here, but the book is pretty darn cool
. When people see it, their eyes generally light up and they start flipping through with enthusiasm. “Oh, I’ve heard of that!” “Oh, I’ve been looking for something to help with that!” “Oh, I need this book!” Each tool has a QR code that you can scan with a smartphone or tablet and instantly go to the tool’s webpage to check it out. People who attend my sessions frequently tell me they download stuff before they leave the room. And frankly, if you like my blog, you’ll like the book. It’s funny, and it’s me. We have 10 5-star reviews on Amazon.com
, and some of those are even from non-relatives!
But having a good product is just a minuscule part of the selling process. I need to do SO MUCH MORE. The problem is there’s so much to do and so many avenues to take that I have no idea where to start or what to do. I follow up on media contacts, tweet out a new tool, call a bookstore, run a Facebook ad…. The list goes on and on. Sometimes I sell a couple three books from an effort, but often I hit a roadblock and change direction.
I actually thought I had a great plan to sell the book. I enlisted the help of several awesome (and big-name) contributors to share their favorite tools, including THE Seth Godin, author Dan Pink, social media superstar Chris Brogan and more. And they all agreed to receive an advanced copy of the book for a possible review. And then they all said they were too busy to write the review. Then I met Steve Strauss, the small business columnist from USA Today, who said he’d LOVE to do a column about the tools and the book and how it helps small businesses. He’s too busy, too, seems like — I’ve written him twice with no response. I don’t blame them, of course, for not being able to write a review — I’m sure they get requests all the time. But they were part of my plan to get the word out, and the dead ends are disheartening.
There are companies who will help you sell your book. But frankly I couldn’t buy a cup of Starbucks coffee with the royalties I get from the sale of one book, so paying thousands of dollars to sell my books doesn’t make much financial sense. The food and champagne for the fabulous Book Launch Party cost about three times the money I made on book sales from the event, even though the AMAZING cupcakes were donated by Jennywennycakes. Yes, I said “three times.”
So there you have it — writing a book is hard, but selling a book is much, much harder. And so far, I haven’t figured it out.
So now that I’ve shared my challenges and aired my laundry, do you have any advice on where to go from here? I’m all ears.
PS – In my many years of fundraising for Team In Training, I’ve learned that you never get anything unless you ask. So I’m going to ask you, my readers, if you can help. Here are three things that would be greatly, greatly appreciated. Really.
- Buy the book. It’s just ten bucks on Amazon, cheaper for the Kindle. When people buy through Amazon, the ranking goes up, and the sales go up. It helps. A lot.
- Like the Facebook page. Tell your friends to like the Facebook page. Help me get some critical mass.
- Tell people you know a good speaker. Attendees leave my sessions with smiles on their faces and tools they can use right away. I’d appreciate an introduction to anyone you know who books speakers for events.