Keep Experimenting to Sell Books

W. Terry WhalinI’ve never met a book author who didn’t want to sell more copies of their  work. It doesn’t matter if they are published through one of the largest  publishers or Podunk Press (I don’t believe there is such a small  publisher named Podunk Press but maybe since there are many of them).

I’ve interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors and spoken with hundreds  of other authors. If you bring up the topic of selling more books, almost every  author has a story about something they tried yet failed to work. Often these  stories are filled with the author blaming someone else for the lack of sales.  They blame:

  • their publisher
  • their publicist
  • their agent
  • their editor
  • the wrong title
  • the wrong cover
  • the missing endorsements
  • _____ you name it

It’s rare that I hear the author blame the real culprit: themselves. Yes,  it’s hard to admit but it is the first step toward selling more books and  understanding who bears the true responsibility for selling books—the author.

In Jack Canfield’s bestselling title, The Success Principles, How to Get from Where You Are to Where You  Want to Be, he begins the book with some fundamentals for success. The  first principle is: Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.

For book authors, you can easily take the word Life and substitute Book: Take  100% Responsibility for Your Book. It’s amazing how your attitude will shift if  you take this simple step.

Many authors long to have their book appear on the bestseller list. For some  authors they equate getting on the bestseller list as their benchmark of success for their  book. Over ten years ago, I read Michael Korda’s Making the List, a Cultural  History of the American Bestseller 1900–1999. Korda at the time was the  Editor-in-Chief at Simon and Schuster, one of the largest publishers. If you  haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.

In the introduction, Korda writes, “The bestseller list is therefore neither  as predictable nor as dominating as its critics make it out to be. Plenty of  strange books get onto the list and stay there for a long time…at least half of  the books on any given list are there to the immense surprise and puzzlement of  their publishers. That’s why publishers find it so hard to repeat their  success—half the time they can’t figure out how they happened in the first  place.” (Page xv) I love his honesty. There is no magic bullet and it is  different for every book. The author is key.

Some books start slow and steadily sell then catapult in sales. Other books  begin strong then sales drop to nothing. There is no consistent pattern.

My encouragement is for you to keep experimenting with different methods to  sell your book. Each author has a different experience.

Yesterday I spoke with an author who had sold 8,000 to 10,000 copies of his  self-published books. He had held over 300 book signings for his book. For many  authors book signings have yielded almost nothing but not for this author. He  regularly speaks at schools and service clubs and even AARP meetings.

If you aren’t speaking much as an author, I encourage you to get a copy of  Barbara Techel’s Class Act,  Sell More Books Through School and Library Appearances. This book gives  step-by-step help and is loaded with ideas where you can take action.

What proactive steps can you take to learn a new skill or try some new way to  sell books? It doesn’t matter if your book is brand new or has been in print for  a while. Keep the experimentation going until you hit the elements which work  for your book.

W. Terry Whalin

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2 thoughts on “Keep Experimenting to Sell Books

  1. Toby K. Davis

    This article makes an excellent point and the bottom line is that marketing your book will take as much effort as writing it…except the marketing is never finished. You can’t just give it your all for one month and say…OK ready to go on with the next project, you must be consistent and believe that your work will pay off. There are lots of good books out there that need to find the correct market.

    1. Deatri Post author

      I agree with you. It amazes me how many authors neglect their older titles. It’s like as soon as the new one is out, it’s time to move on. One of the great things about books is they don’t spoil. I’m not saying you promote your older titles as hard as you do your new one, but I think you should still do some promotions of them.

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