I have not sold one copy of my novel. How's that for an opener? It's true. My debut novel has not sold one lonely copy. It hasn’t officially debuted yet, but I have no worries because I haven't even tried selling either. Not because it doesn't matter to me, but because all the conditions to sell it are not yet in place, so why should I expect sales just because I've got a kick-ass website and a blog to advertise, promote, and market the novel? That doesn't mean a thing folks. It's just exposure, and exposure to you because nobody else has even heard about it yet.
The GoogleBots probably haven’t even spidered your homepage. (Better revise and optimize your META Tags and links.) Exposure to your product, your novel, no matter how slick, is not enough to sell it to anyone, at any given time, ever. But it's a start. And exposing and presenting your novel to the right group of readers, with effective images and messages is what good promotion is all about.
Pull out your Sharpie Highlighter: (But don’t blame me when you streak your monitor with yellow stuff.)
I'm getting a little ahead of myself with this article, but what the heck. I'm inspired to write so here goes. I’m spewing out all my frustrations in a relentless tsunami wave of utterly packed information that’s going to leave your head spinning for days. (Take one reading dose of this Post three times a day until it sinks in. (With booze if you want.) You’re going to feel much better by the end of the week.)
Throughout my previous Posts here, I've laid down what I believe are key ingredients in the making of a sale. Sales DNA Formulas, the anatomy of a sale, and so forth. The purpose of this Post is to focus on promotion, which is the prelude to any sales effort. Let’s face it, people just don’t buy anything they see, even when they like it. You have to finesse a sale, and that’s done with effective promos. What’s an effective promo? Any information about your product that leads to a bona-fide sales transaction. How do you finesse it? You romance it. You make it relevant in an exciting, emotional way. You trigger all the right hot buttons. What are the hot buttons and how do you trigger them? (Bear with me, I’m making these up as I go along.)
Delve into the psyche of your prospective audience and pinpoint what really matters to them. Then present and project their own wishes and deep desires through your product. Play-up the factors in your novel that will interest, pique, and motivate prospects to take action and buy. It’s easier than you think. People searching for something to buy, instantly hone-in and are attracted to images and messages that appeal to them, but they want to be sold on it. Don’t slam your book in their face. Just tell them a story about it in the most interesting way possible, and offer it in the most affordable way possible, if you can discount.
Question: What is the most powerful way to sell anything? If you're still thinking, you don't know the answer and you might want to keep reading. Unequivocally, the sure-fire way to sell any product is in person. Face-to-face. Period. If a good salesperson is prepared, has done their homework, listens to their customer's needs and wants, and pays attention to their buying power, or lack thereof, they can easily make a sale, most of the time, since many unforeseen factors could affect buying decisions at any given time, as well. (We’ll keep that curve ball out of the equation, since some things, we cannot control.)
Okay, great. That's a good one. Does that mean you should pack the trunk of your car with your new novel and start peddling it on the streets? Well, it worked for many a self-published author in the past and I'm sure it could work for you too, but that's not the point. We're not talking about selling a handful of books, or even a fifty thousand. I'm talking about selling millions of copies of your novel. Millions you say? What am I on today? Truth serum, of course. We obviously can't sell face-to-face online but we must try and substitute our personal presence online. And one of the best ways to do that is with photos and/or videos of yourself talking about the benefits your book has to offer. People want to know what's in it for them and they want to hear you say it. Personalize it. Why else would they think of buying from you? Is there really any other reason if they can’t trust you to deliver a good product?
What are we selling anyway?
Non-fiction books, of course are in a league all to themselves. They’re written with a specific goal in mind that easily translates into sales pitches, ad copy and even outlandish claims. But what about your novel? It's just a story isn't it? What exactly are we selling? What tangible benefits do novels sell? That depends on the genre. If you're selling a romance novel, then the mystique of romance and wild nights is for sale. If you're like me and write Literary Historical, then the fascination with by-gone eras, old customs, and a past way of life is what's for sale, among several other things. Play-up these factors in a meaningful way and tie them in with your premise and themes, and you've got something that readers can cling to and form expectations about. That's a good start, but by no means is it all you'll need to figure out.
Let's break this stacked and packed super-coiled DNA strand down because by the time you reach the end of this Post, I need to calm this tidal wave back into the serene waters of a new morning, gently lapping, and caressing your bare feet. Ahh, I needed that moment before the storm. Now hang on for dear life.
Brief Anatomy of a Sale 101:
1. First things, first. You must think positive. Yes, it's a cliché, but thinking positive, hoping for the moon, is better than settling for moon dust. By thinking big and positive, you're setting yourself up to succeed and not fail. It's more than wishful thinking folks. The right frame of mind can make the impossible happen. Get in the right frame of mind and stick with it against all odds, and know that when all sales conditions are in their proper place, good stuff starts to happen, and can happen big. Okay, we've got the vital, Tony Robbins portion out of the way, and now that we're in the proper mood, a good vibe, we're ready for specifics.
Product Quality Newsflash:
2. We're trying to sell a product. But not just any product. It's your amazing novel. It is amazing, is it not? Great if it is. If it's not, stop reading and revise your ms one more time. (You thought this was going to be easy?) Actually, the difference between a good, well-received product, and a lame product is the difference between word-of-mouth and repeat sales, and a stagnant product in the marketplace, plus a dubious reputation for its owner. In other words, produce an amazing, useful, in-demand product, and get it out there. Good things will happen. Do otherwise and well, you know, take your losses. Life is too short to lose. Design your book to win. (Major topic for another Post.)
3. Back already? Good deal, let's move on. (I just flung my revised ms across the room.)
Okay, so where were we? Ahh, yes, your amazing self-published novel. BTW, let's quickly define self-publishing. To me, self-publishing is when you have close to 100 percent control of your book. And by that I mean its cost, its quality, its perceived value. It's all up to you and not up to editors, writing coaches, book designers, and the list is long here folks. Hired help, whether they come from a major SP outfit such as LULU.com, or iUniverse, are only human and can only give you so much for your money with their services. You have the last word, of course, and your book is great when you feel it's great. (Until you get up the next morning and see how far away from production it really is anyway.)
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PART II - I'll Post next Monday folks. You don't want to miss it because I'm going to show you how to circumvent all the negative hype about Self-Publishing and how you can design your novel to be a winner in the publishing game.