Tag Archives: Sales Coaching for Authors

How to Market and Sell Your Book in Only One Hour Per Day

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

For some, the idea of authors selling their own books may seem to be an impractical notion cooked up by contemporary publishing gurus who lack the same influence within the book supply chain as the traditional trade publishers have. For some, the belief is still held that, as purveyors of the greatest literary writers, trade publishers will do (and always have done) all the work for their authors because they’ve carefully selected only the crème de la crème … the sure sellers that will guarantee a profit for them.

In his 2013 Forbes article titled How To Market And Sell Your Book In Five Steps, Nick Morgan, comments that:

…most authors – naturally enough – are focused on the book, not on what happens after completing it. It’s enough to get the book over the finish line, the typical author thinks, let the publisher worry about marketing and selling the book. That’s human nature and it makes sense, but it’s not enough in the world we live in now. There are simply too many books published each year – a million or more in the US alone – to rely on destiny, or fate, or even good word of mouth to get your book the attention it deserves. And you certainly can’t rely on the publisher.

He nails it right on the head … except for the “in the world we live in now” portion. The truth is, it was always this way for the majority of authors. Even back in the day.

The Myth Debunked by Trade Publishers Themselves

For those who balk at the idea of self-promotion because they believe it is their publisher’s sole responsibility to promote their books on their behalf—and that all traditional publishers will take care of it for them all the time—think again. Even the Association of Canadian Publishers will tell you otherwise:

Many publishers have a publicity department that will handle this while the book is on the front list. However, once the next season is published, or you have published the book on your own, the job of getting publicity exposure for the book falls to the authors themselves.


And Canada isn’t alone in this. Not by a long shot. Even the Big Five—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—admit they focus primarily on their front list titles; and, once those books fall to the back list, the responsibility of continued promotion falls to the author.

Based on the common twice-yearly publishing schedule followed by most trade publishers (spring and autumn), I figured that the average book would be considered a front list title for only six months which means it has a shelf life of only six months. After that, the author is on his or her own to continue selling it. I’ve since learned that my six-month guesstimate was actually quite idealistic after picking up a well-researched book by John B. Thompson titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century. He delves even deeper into a trade publisher’s publicity, sales, and marketing budgets than I did in my last three books:

Today more than ever, a writer’s career is always hanging in the balance, rising and falling with the sales of their most recent books and always at risk of being curtailed by a disappointing track. Careers cut short and writers cut loose are among the prices to be paid for the logic of the field. They are the human costs of an industry where numbers rule in the end and where short-term growth and bottom-line profitability have come to assume more and more importance in the practical calculations of the major houses.

You would think that the major publishing houses with the larger budgets would be able to spend more money on promoting and selling all their books; but, the fact is, they are under even greater pressure from their parent corporations to watch their spend and focus primarily on what they consider the “big books” (which do not necessarily equate to “great literary works”) that can generate the most profit for them. The result, according to Thompson’s research, is an even shorter shelf life for the majority of books by the majority of authors:

As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.


So we’ve gone from a six-month shelf life to a six-week shelf life with the larger, corporate publishers. Then the ball is back in the author’s court. Yikes! Scary stuff. There has to be a better way, right? I believe there is, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to help authors take control of their own book sales and marketing efforts so they can enjoy more commercial success.

Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors

Not all authors are introverts, but all authors can benefit from online marketing. And it only takes one hour per day, six days per week, to get the ball rolling. That’s it, that’s all. Truth.

Whether a book was self-published or produced by a traditional trade publisher, there are some effective ways the author can boost its sales that will fit well with both introverted and extroverted personality types. And here’s the best news yet: it’s possible to successfully market and sell your book using nothing more than a comfortable chair in your favourite writing room, a laptop, an Internet connection, and your own God-given talent to write.

So, what is stopping authors from moving ahead with this? That’s the question I asked myself when I wrote my most recent educational resource guide to complement my sales coaching for authors classes. Maybe you will recognize yourself in this chapter: Is this you? If it is, that’s okay. We’ll work together to overcome your fears and teach you how to sell your own book. You may just surprise yourself with what you’re capable of once you start this sales coaching for authors program.

I sincerely hope you will give it a try. I created the program specifically for you.

Educational Resources for Authors

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

A New Year’s Resolution for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

With January 1, 2017, fast approaching, many of us are thinking ahead to our New Year’s Resolutions. What better time is there for authors to set their book sales and marketing goals?

Make this commitment to yourself today: “I’m going to dedicate at least one hour per day, six days per week for the next full year, toward the advertising, sales, and marketing of my book. No matter what happens, I will spend a minimum of six hours per week, every single week for the next full year, toward the advertising, sales, and marketing of my book. I promise this to myself.” This is a small commitment of time that is totally doable. Agreed?

Attach Emotions to Your Goals

I set goals for every single one of my books, and I attach strong emotions to each of those goals. Why do I do this? Because the only way to reach a destination is to first figure out where you’re going; and if you give yourself a compelling enough reason to get there that really excites your senses, you’ll be that much more committed to making it happen. The rest (the hows) always seem to fall into place once you’ve made that firm decision inside your mind.

It’s not for me to advise you what your goal should be nor why you should want to achieve it. That’s a very personal thing that is different for every person and every book. It’s entirely your choice. My intention is simply to plant some seeds of possibility in your mind, to get you thinking about where and how you might increase the sales of your book. Achieve one goal for yourself, and you’ll be fearless about setting and achieving more in the future because you’ll know you can do it. You’ll have proven it to yourself.

Four Sample Goals for Four Imaginary Authors

On that note, here in an excerpt from my recent book titled Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors discussing four sample books published in four different formats by four different imaginary authors. I’ve set unique goals for each author, along with his or her own compelling “why,” to help get you started on yours by awakening the creative flow within.


    Self-published ebook cookbook titled The Cheesecake Doctrine

    This ebook was self-published on KoboBooks.com with worldwide geographic rights (meaning it is available for sale around the world in Kobo’s .EPUB format through any of Kobo’s various applications and devices such as desktops, ereaders, tablets, IOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). The royalty rate the author can expect to earn from KoboBooks (Kobo, 2015) is 70 percent of the listed retail price she has chosen for her book, so she has set it at $34.99 CDN for an expected gross profit of roughly $24.50 CDN per book. (She has converted that price to match the currency in each country where she’s selling this book: for example, it sells for $28.99 USD in America, £18.77 GBP in the United Kingdom, and EUR 25.83 in France based on today’s market prices.)

    As a Canadian girl who sets her goals in Canadian prices, she plans to sell 20 copies of this ebook every month this year so she can earn the equivalent of $490 CDN per month in gross profit (for a total sale of 240 ebooks at $5,880 CDN for the year). She plans to use this extra income to pay for a long-desired tropical vacation in Bora Bora next year. She’s wanted to go to Bora Bora since she could remember!

    Self-published paperback self-help book titled Quick and Easy Hairstyling Tips for Teens

    This paperback was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace.com for distribution on Amazon.com throughout the United States alone. The royalty rate the author can expect to earn when pricing this book at $8.99 USD is $2.34 USD per book after the distributor’s cut and other fees such as POD printing costs are first deducted (CreateSpace, 2015).

    This author plans to sell 100 copies of this paperback every month this year so she can earn $234 per month in gross profit (for a total sale of 1,200 paperbacks at $2,808 USD for the year). She plans to donate this income to her local youth homeless shelter to help provide the basic necessities of life for its teenage residents as they struggle to complete their educations. She’s always been grateful to the family who provided these things to her while she went through hairdressing school, and now she wants to pay it forward.

    Fictional novella audiobook titled The Path Less Worn

    This fictional novella is based on an inspirational true story about a thirty-year-old man who overcame incredible odds to build a successful health supplement business from humble beginnings as an underprivileged orphan. It was originally produced as a professional quality pocketbook paperback and ebook by a supportive self-publishing house on behalf of its author. The same company has now helped him convert it into audiobook format, complete with a professional voiceover and high definition soundtrack, and has published it nonexclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes via ACX, an Amazon Platform that will pay royalties for any copies sold (ACX, 2015).

    The original 4.37 x 7-inch novella was designed to be carried in one’s coat pocket for easy accessibility to inspirational reading even when travelling. Due to the pocketbook format, the author set a “pocketsize” retail price to match it: $4.99 USD per copy for both the ebook and the paperback version. For consistency, the audiobook is priced the same. Based on the publishing agreement in place, the gross profit the supportive self-publishing house, Polished Publishing Group (2015b) will earn by distributing this book online on behalf of this author is 25 percent of the list price, for a total of $1.25 per book. The author, in turn, will take home 40 percent of the $1.25 for a total gross profit of 50¢ per book.

    Luckily, because this author published through a supportive self publishing house, he has retained 100 percent copyright ownership of his entire end product (the words and the artwork produced for him in all formats of the title) which allows him more control over where he sells his books and what retail price he chooses to sell them at. As such, this author has also decided to produce and sell CD copies of this audiobook direct from his own website, which is why he granted ACX only a non-exclusive contract rather than an exclusive contract through his publisher. If he had granted them an exclusive contract, then they would be the only ones who could sell his book online. Not even he, himself, could sell them direct elsewhere. By contrast, because he has retained his right to sell his audiobooks direct through his own website’s storefront, he will take home 100 percent of the profits from the directly sold copies: $4.99 per book. No middlemen to pay.

    What a difference in gross profit on the copies he sells direct! A much better margin, indeed! But it always helps to have extra distributors (particularly distributors with trusted brands) to help sell one’s books. Having an audiobook available for sale through Apple iTunes definitely lends even more credibility to the book, and the author recognizes that.

    On that note, this author has a goal to sell 1,000 copies of this audiobook every single month: He will sell 50 percent of them through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes at an expected gross profit of 50¢ USD per book, for a total of $250 USD per month; he’ll sell the other 50 percent of them direct at $4.99 USD per book, for a total of $2,495 per month. The grand total per month for those 1,000 books is $2,745 USD in gross profit. (The grand total per year for those 12,000 audiobooks is $32,940 in gross profit).

    This author’s compelling “why” is that he would love to continue working as a travelling health supplement salesman, inspirational speaker, and author, living life on his own terms rather than being chained to a nine-to-five desk job. This book is yet another new revenue stream for a business he loves and feels so passionate about and that allows him to inspire and empower others to achieve their own dreams, just as he and the protagonist in his fictional novella did.

    Limited edition hardcover children’s book about adoption titled A Family for Bailey

    This limited edition hardcover book was originally published and printed by a traditional trade publisher 10 years ago. Because it was trade published, the publisher owned the copyright of the book and paid this author only a small 8 percent royalty on the list price of $25 CDN, for a total of $2 CDN in gross profits per book for that author over the past decade. The copyright ownership of this title has now reverted back to the author, as per the original publishing contract. Five hundred unsold copies of the original 1,000-copy print run have been returned to the author from the publisher’s warehouse, and he is storing them in his garage. It’s now his responsibility to sell them. Luckily, because 100 percent copyright ownership has now returned to him, he will also enjoy 100 percent gross profits on all the copies he sells direct.

    These are high-quality, limited edition hardcovers—priceless keepsakes for adopted children and their adoptive families to commemorate their special bonds. This author has decided to sell the remaining books at the original recommended retail price of $25 CDN each (for a total of 500 hardcovers at $12,500 CDN for the year), and he plans to put these profits into savings for his own cherished adopted child to use toward her college education.

To discover how each of these authors will reach their book sales and marketing goals, and for help in developing your own effective plan, you can order in the above-mentioned book from any bookseller in your area. Or you can visit PPG’s website to sign up for the next Sales Coaching for Authors session that works best with your schedule.

Whatever you decide, I wish you every success with your book and a very Happy New Year! Thank you for visiting the PPG Publisher’s Blog.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.