Anyone who has read a few of my blog entries and articles (such as Authors Are Entrepreneurs and How Proactive Authors Sell More Books) will know that I am a strong proponent of self-promotion. To be a truly successful author, you have to treat book publishing, sales, and marketing as your own business. The same holds true whether you take today’s supported self-publishing route or go with a traditional trade publisher.
Each time I write about this, I receive emotional comments from various writers that look something like this:
“Authors are not entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are sales people, and sales people are extroverts. Authors are introverts.”
“Writers should be paid to write. Period. Promotion is the publisher’s job.”
“If I were a car manufacturer, I would not be expected to go on the road and promote my product after I manufactured it. I would be paid to make the car and someone else would be paid to sell it.”
While I acknowledge that an introverted personality will have more difficulty getting out there and “selling themselves” than a natural extrovert, the fact remains that authors who do extra marketing on top of their publishers’ efforts will see the most success. That’s the reality of this business. There’s no getting around it.
When I read comments like, “if I were a car manufacturer, I would not be expected to sell my product after I make it,” I immediately see the mindset of an employee rather than an employer/entrepreneur. This is what writers need to understand—they need to shift their mindset from that of “employee” to “employer” so that they take the necessary steps to ensure their own success.
Sure, if you were hired as an employee to manufacture cars for someone else, you wouldn’t be all that interested in selling them. Why would you care? You’d receive a salary for your labour by the company’s owner regardless of the sales. (It is also worth noting that your income would be capped regardless of the sales.) But if you owned that business and you were manufacturing those cars for yourself, not only would you be concerned about the quality of cars you were manufacturing; you’d also do everything in your power to ensure you had successful sales. Otherwise, you’d be out of business. On that note, here’s a rhetorical question for all the writers who believe sales and marketing is “someone else’s responsibility” but their own: did you write the book with your publisher’s success in mind, or did you write it with your own success in mind?
There are several ways even introverted authors can improve the sale of their books:
- Book Signings
Not only is it possible to move a surprising amount of books at a signing, but it is also a great way for a new author to get used to being “on display” in public without the “pressure to perform and entertain” they may experience at a public reading.
If writers feel shy about contacting a book store to arrange a signing, they can hire a publicist or friend to do it for them.
- Video Readings
Another possible substitute for a public reading is a video reading. Why not hire a film producer (or a friend) to film you reading from your book? Then post it on YouTube where it will be available to the public to enjoy.
- Write a Blog and Promote it Online
A blog is not only a great place to showcase your topic and writing skills to an interested audience, but it allows you to stay in front of that audience indefinitely. Do you want to know why companies like Coke and McDonald’s still continue to advertise even after all their success? They do it for “top of mind awareness” so that their brand is the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks about having a beverage or an affordable treat. If you stay in front of people, they will recall your name when they require your product or service. The more they hear your name, the more they will begin to trust it as the valued source of whatever it is you’re offering (branding). And, the more they trust your brand, the more apt they are to not only buy from you once but also keep coming back in the future.
Don’t wait for your publisher to take charge and invest their time, money, and effort into selling more of your books. Take charge of yourself right now. The most successful authors are the ones with an entrepreneurial spirit. They aren’t sitting back and waiting for someone else to bring them success; they are proactively venturing out there each day to find that success for themselves.
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