The number one question people ask me, aside from how they can get their book to hit the New York Times bestseller list, is how to get people to buy their book.
Clearly, these questions are related, but only so much. The fact is that getting on the New York Times list is complicated, but getting people to buy your book isn’t.
And the first step is both the most obvious and the most ignored.
When you’re excited about your book, it’s easy to assume everyone else is, too. But busy, successful people—which is to say, those most likely to publish books—tend to know other busy, successful people. Just announcing that you’ve released a book isn’t enough.
Whether it’s sending individual emails or bringing it up in conversation, nothing is going to move your book up the mountain more than you talking about it to the successful people you know, who will, in turn, talk about it to the successful people they know.
And that’s the key point: it’s not how many people buy your book but who they are.
Which is better: one person who’s going to hire you for a six-figure contract because they read your book or 1,000 people who are going to read the book, put it down and not think about you ever again?
I think we’d all go for door number one.
REMEMBER WHAT PEOPLE CARE ABOUT
I know I just said you should tell your friends about your book, but you need to remember one key factor: aside from wanting to support you, they don’t care.
People care instead about what your book can do for them. Will it help them learn how to open a franchise? Follow the keto diet? Avoid burnout? That’s what you need to focus on. Not “Hey, I have a book” but how the book is relevant to people’s lives.
If your book helps people make a transformation, they will then become advocates for your book and start recommending it to other people. Which means more—you telling someone to go read your book or someone else telling them?
(This time, it’s door number two.)
MAKE IT EASY FOR PEOPLE TO WANT IT
Most authors create websites for their books or add a book page to their already existing site. Those pages usually have a book cover, maybe a book description, maybe an author photo.
Your book website can stand out if it’s more like a sales page than a typical book website page.
Show the cover and description, but also break down elements into bullet points, provide a short note about what you want the reader to get out of the book and include positive reviews, the book page count, an excerpt and any other relevant information.
Essentially, in this day of information overload, the simpler you can make it for someone to find out what they’re going to get ahead of time, the more likely they are to buy it.
PRICE LOW FOR THE LAUNCH
Since Amazon and other retailers allow you to change the ebook price at any time, why not launch the book at 99 cents to try to drive as many sales as possible?
At the end of the launch week, bump the price back up to $9.99, or leave it at 99 cents indefinitely. I will say and say again, the money you make from your book is never going to come from book sales but from the people who will hire you after reading your book, so keeping the price low doesn’t matter.
While asking people to buy the book at a discount, why not also ask them for a review? And while you’re doing that, let them know that if the book sparked any emotions in them, a review that breaks down those emotions would be most appreciated!
LET YOUR EMAIL LIST KNOW
While it’s obvious that you should let your subscribers know about your book, it’s less obvious how you should do it.
It’s not going to be effective to hammer them with a series of emails that say, “Hey, I have a book!” Instead, write one email announcing the book and explaining how it’s relevant to your subscribers. Then schedule two more emails to go out during launch week but make sure they contain book-related news. It may be that your book has hit the number one spot in its category or that a podcast you were on has been released—anything that makes it more of a newsy email and less of a “me mail.”
NEVER STOP PROMOTING
Finally, keep subtly promoting your book however you can. Put a link to it in as many places as you can think of — in your email signature, as a pinned tweet, at the top of your Facebook page, and wherever else you can think of. Keep copies of the book with you—in the trunk of your car or even in your bag. When you’re asked to speak somewhere, offer to do it for free if the organizer will order copies. In short, change your thinking so you’re always focused on sharing your book with the people you know it can help.
Of course, the best way of all to get people to buy your book is to get someone like Bill Gates to recommend it. If you can manage that, can you please tell the rest of us how?
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of eight books, founder of Legacy Launch Pad Publishing, TEDx speaker, TV book critic