According to the New York Times, over 81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them. According to Bowker, America’s publishing industry researcher, there were 1.4 million books published in 2013 (total of traditional and non-traditional publishers). In addition, the number of non-fiction business, self-help and inspiration books published is on the rise.
There are many reasons that entrepreneurs write books. Those reasons include increasing credibility, increasing awareness of their core business and building a speaking practice. However, the number of new books being publishing is growing faster then the number of new readers. All of these statistics mean one thing — it is becoming more difficult than ever to make money selling books.
Running a major hybrid publishing company has given me the opportunity to experiment with new, out-of-the-box, strategies to generate book sales. Here are three of the techniques that seem to be working.
1. Give them away.
I meet so many authors who are their worst enemies. They start their project under budget, they are rushed to get the book to market as fast as possible, and they cut corners in the editing process and end up with an inferior products. When I try to coach them to give away books in advance of the release as an awareness technique, I am always met with resistance.
The idea of giving books away stems from the traditional act of sending out advanced reader copies (ARCs) during the publishing process. For decades, publishers have been sending out ARCs to get reviews and alert the market — so why not continue this before and after the release?
Consider printing 1,000 copies of your next book just for an awareness campaign. Identify the place online where your ideal readers are hanging out. Advertise for a period of time before the launch where you will give a copy of your book away for free. Donate copies to entire university classes, book clubs that focus on your type of book and any other large groups of influential enthusiasts.
In return for the free copy, simply get their email address and ask them permission to email them on the day of release, so that they could share the book with their friends. We have found that you cannot give away too many copies. Giving away books to the right people will create an exponential demand.
2. Make an audio book.
Even more importantly, launch the audio book at the same time. The amount of audio books being purchased is growing every year. Most good publishers today will offer a discounted service for your audio book if you do it at the same time as your print book.
If you release the audio book at the same time, it allows you to do package offers, to offer buy one, get one free offers and so much more. Research also shows that a significant amount of people who buy the paper book also pick up the audio book and vice versa.
3. Be your biggest advocate.
Your job is just beginning the day that the book is released. If you truly hope to compete in the new world of book sales, then you have to decide to be your own biggest advocate. There are new places to promote your book, appearing everyday online. You need to spend every spare minute in a day promoting your book — and then the sky is the limit.
If you hear of breaking news, and you can spin your book topic in some way that is related to the news, position yourself as an expert on that topic, call your local news broadcaster and pitch them on appearing on radio or TV to give your opinion on that topic. They will always mention your book title when they introduce you.
Find new websites to promote your work. Reader’s Legacy is attracting thousands of avid readers by their offer of community and free books. They give authors the ability to promote their books directly to readers — and they pay you, even though they may give your book away. There are many opportunities just like this on the internet, waiting for you to discover.
These are just three tips that can help you to sell more books. The bottom line is that you have think outside of the box. People will buy your books, if they admire you. Best-selling authors are constantly thinking of new ways to get to their ideal reader and add value. You should be thinking this way too.