It’s often said that you can’t do it… but anything is possible if you have a brutal salesperson mentality. Remember that every book is a product. Whether it’s a new release, an old book, a 50-page story, an 800-page epic, fiction, or nonfiction… they all have something in common when it comes to Amazon. For Amazon’s search engines, all these books are just other products and their ID is just a unique ASIN from their perspective. Neither age nor gender nor history play a role. All that matters is how well a given ASIN is likely to sell.
So many authors have published their works with the expectation that their books will somehow sell themselves on Amazon and possibly even make the top charts on Amazon – oh, such confidence must be a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, because some books have had significant marketing budgets behind them and others are represented by marketing professionals, many self-published books are destined to fade into the background and simply fail. The quality of the book always matters, but no one can deny that quality alone doesn’t sell books. A professional sales strategy and big advertising budgets make a huge difference on digital distribution channels…but a self-published author can’t compete against companies that have been selling books for decades; After all, their ability and expertise in making a book perfectly sellable is the second greatest asset they have. The first, obviously, is their money. Money buys viewers: it’s a simple law of big numbers, and one we can’t escape.
No doubt you have read some success stories in the past. Yes, I know some self-published authors have really made it – and it’s very impressive that they did. However, the flip side of the coin – the sad truth of the matter – is that thousands of other authors have not turned a positive profit margin, while the lucky few have managed to make it big with seemingly little effort. One could imagine that Amazon is not only the largest bookseller in the world, but also the largest graveyard for books and authors’ wishes! A few million books (and surprisingly this is no exaggeration) just sit there, dormant in limbo, without a single visit for weeks or even months – completely forgotten, marked as a failure, left to fade. So many would-be bestsellers have failed because publishing is no easy task, although it may seem like it given how sophisticated the publishing process is on platforms like Kindle. Your book is published with just a few clicks! Wow… and then what?
However, your book might actually stand a chance as long as you adopt a salesperson’s mindset and learn some crucial marketing skills – something I believe is an essential element of digital sales success. Let’s cut the jargon and dive right into the action. Before publishing to Amazon, several steps need to be completed.
The sales strategy is based on data, not on our own subjective perception of what could be good. You need to keep this in mind throughout the process. It’s not romantic, it’s not glamorous… but it’s reality.
In fact, it’s not just about data. I actually see three crucial elements for any sales strategy:
If you’re pitching your book against millions of other books, you’d better have a decent data-driven strategy. When writing a book, authors are okay with making investments in proofreading and editing. Editing is a must for every author, I wouldn’t disagree with that for a second. But how many writers jump at the chance to hire a marketing/sales professional? Actually only a few, although these people and their skills are also a must. You need data and you need professionals who have access to the right data.
What kind of data do we use? Of course, our main focus is on our competitors. We want our data to show how successful books are in our specific genre. What is your overall sales rank? How many reviews do they have? What keywords do they use when creating their compelling sales copy? This has nothing to do with writing, I know, and it’s not necessarily the “fun” part of producing a book for sale. However, this must be done before publication. If not, you’re just another fish in the sea… and one for sharks to be quick to circle!
A savvy salesperson is also someone who is technologically savvy. You must be familiar with all these fancy marketing tools and techniques and keep up to date with the latest developments in this field. Therefore, in order to become familiar with them, an author must acquire some specific knowledge. How do you set up a blog? What is SEO? How do you use social media to sell more books? What’s up with Twitter? Are advertising sites good? Why does a book need a good video?
So many questions, we know. You’d better learn the answers to these yourself if you’re in any way serious about self-publishing, because the answers to these questions will make you see a big difference in your rankings and sales. The alternative, of course, is that you hire a marketing professional, just like you hired your editor. Publishing isn’t about getting your book on Amazon’s shelves. It’s ONE BUSINESS and one that requires a business-like approach.
Another point: what about incoming sales? Can you really focus on the needs and goals of your buyers? How do you sell the way potential customers buy? Again, more questions than any serious Amazon seller has to consider if they want their product to go anywhere!
Yes, I know I’m being a bit aggressive here…but a seller would understand, trust me. Sales don’t just happen like a bolt from the blue. It’s something you need to achieve using data, technology and inbound sales methods with a professional guide.
So back to our original question. Can old books become new bestsellers? Well yes, no doubt they can. Imagine for a moment your book had a facility that leverages all available data and technology to create a unique customer experience. Imagine your book standing out from the crowd even without a strong advertising budget, guided by a data-driven sales strategy… it’s not impossible, far from it.
I have a soft spot for old books. Finally, some books just failed to connect with readers, but many books never had a chance to connect. I always say it’s never a losing game as long as you believe in your book. If you’re looking to get your book back in the game, have some faith because there’s no doubt that it really is possible!
As? By following these steps:
Buy a license for professional tools like KDRocket to research your competition, ideas, keywords and categories.
Take a learning/coaching program on search engine optimization, social media, blogging, and other marketing channels that have proven successful in book sales
(Maybe I have one for you – SEO Crash Course for Publishers)
Learn more about your customer base; Read reviews, join groups, get involved.
Build your own audience, do self-promotion. Start with a few followers and never get discouraged.
There’s also a secret ingredient to add to your efforts: consistency. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t give up your books. Give them the love, care, attention and professionalism they need and help them get their message across to the readers who are out there already looking for what you have to share!
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