I adore how-to articles, so here is a tongue firmly in cheek one for authors.
There are millions of these articles floating around the ether of the Internet.
Some of my favourites include, how to drink a martini, how to train your dragon, how to knit a hat and how to get a cold.
It’s simply amazing how many things there are that we don’t know how to do but can learn how to in seconds.
So why not a definitive how-to about selling books?
To return to the subject at hand, as a writer, author, general factotum and lazy daydreamer, I believe I do know a little about how to sell books.
I mean, that’s what I do; or starve.
Rest assured, though, I don’t starve, but as most authors will admit, caviar is rarely on the menu.
So how do I manage to feed myself? By selling some books.
Now you may want to take notes from here on in, as I am about to impart all my secret book selling techniques in 5 very easy to learn steps.
Now, promise not to laugh when you read these five how to sell books points.
Rule Number 1
First, make absolutely sure that you have actually written a book.
At least, one that is long enough to be classed as a book.
If you can fit your story on a post-it note, maybe it’s back to the keyboard for you.
Also, make sure your book has a title.
This is really important.
Untitled books don’t seem to sell at all well.
Rule Number 2
Be very careful with your spelling.
Especially with your author name on the front cover.
If you get this wrong, you may find your royalties are heading off to a total stranger.
I always think an independent editorial eye is useful for this point.
Rule Number 3
Keep your book title to under one hundred and fifty words.
I know it sounds restrictive, but research has shown that potential readers like a little mystery and intrigue, so don’t give away the whole story in your title.
If you really want to tell your potential readers the whole story before they decide to read your book, do it in your book description.
Rule Number 4
Make sure your story has an end and not simply a last page.
As tempting as it may be to keep your costs of production down as low as possible, the additional pages needed to finish your story are well worthwhile in achieving some degree of customer satisfaction.
Again, research has shown that incomplete stories in books tend to adversely affect sales, and book reviewers can get a bit nasty about it too.
Rule Number 5
Price your book sensibly.
Although it is tempting to go for a quick killing, your book may not attract a lot of buyers at $69.99.
Consider your market and the kind of people who will be likely to want to buy and read your books.
If they are fellow authors, forget anything much above free, as they are just as broke as you.
But, perhaps if your book offers your potential readers the guarantee of becoming rich in less than seven seconds, you might get a few buyers at $99.99!
Then again, if it’s romance and you’re aiming at single parents on a budget, you could try a three for the price of one offer at $2.99.
At the end of the day, though, your main aim is to be read, not to become a millionaire.
If that is what you want from selling books, then deciding to be a writer was a very bad career move indeed.
Better to go back to selling insurance.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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