My research indicates that the vast majority of self published authors sell few books. Some, however, do become successful, and I think that the major difference between the two groups is that the ones who do well treat it as a business.
I’m no marketing guru, but I think the first step in selling your product is to understand your customer. An author needs to know how people find his book and how those people choose their purchases. I haven’t conducted surveys on the subject, but, in this two part series, I’ll share what my experience, logic, and research tells me.
How Buyers Find Books:
- Recommendations – Readers tend to associate with other readers, and a personal recommendation is, by far, the best way for someone to be introduced to your book. It may not be the most common method of finding a book, but the conversion rate from browser to buyer is off the chart.
- Lists – You’d be surprised at the places readers may encounter lists like “Best Fantasy Books of All Time” or “Best Books You’ve Never Heard Of.” As a reader, I’m always on the lookout for a good book, and I’ll browse through the posts and make a note of any that sound interesting. I purchased and read the Codex Alera series based on such an entry on boardgamegeek.com.
- Blogs – I think that blogs are really coming into their own as places to discover new reading material. Beyond someone getting to know you and personally picking out a book that meets your interest, the best thing is to find someone whose tastes match your own and go by their recommendations. Book blogs allow you to do just that.
- Browsing – Readers actively seek out new books. Just this past weekend, I went to Vroman’s in Pasadena and browsed the shelves. Online, this behavior equates to going through category listings.
- Searches – We live in the Google age. Entering a query for whatever piece of information we’re seeking into a search box has become a no-brainer, though I think that Search Engine Optimization is much more important for those selling nonfiction than fiction.
What This Behavior Means to Those Trying to Sell Books:
- By far, the best way to attract someone to your book is through word of mouth. Your first step in the process is to develop a product that is buzz-worthy.
- Note that advertisements weren’t mentioned above. I can’t remember the last time I bought a book based on seeing an ad.
- The more people who know about your book, the more opportunity you have for them to tell others about it. This is the reason that giveaways are so important.
- The best way to get word about your book out there is for the people who read it to tell others. The best way to get your readers to spread the word is simply to ask them to do it.
Does the behavior outlined above jive with how you find books? Any takeaways that I missed that you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments.
Tune in Monday for Part 2 of this series: How Browsers Become Buyers.