How to Stand Out as a Writer and Sell Your Work
Every week I receive emails from new authors ready to publish their books and they want to know how they can stand out and get noticed, and, well, sell a crap load of copies of their books.
That’s a tough question, and the answer is even tougher.
I recently published a new book titled Inspired Writer: How to Create Magic with Your Words and I sold thousands of copies. It shot like a rocket up the rankings and became an Amazon #1 bestseller within just a couple days.
It sounds pretty cool until you realize I have a relatively popular blog, over 100,000 monthly readers, and I’ve been blogging for 10 years building said following, and Writer’s Digest recently listed Positive Writer on their Top Websites for Writers list for 2016. So you would be right to expect a new book of mine to sell quite a few copies at launch.
However, my stats pale in comparison to the likes of Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Jon Acuff, and Jeff Goins. When they publish books they don’t just become Amazon bestsellers, they become national bestsellers.
Pop goes my bubble.
Standing out as a writer is harder than it has ever been, you can create a brilliant blog with brilliant content, get the best profile photo shoot money can buy, and you can work 24hrs a day writing only what angels could ever hope to write.
And… can you hear that? It was a pin dropping.
You can’t hear it because there’s too much noise and because of so much noise people care less about new books, new music, and new media of any kind. In fact, even if you decide to give your book away for free you might still find it hard to reach over 100 people who will download it.
If you go over to my good friend Joe Buntings website Story Cartel you can download FOR FREE new books, if you’re willing to honestly review them. There are some damn good books on Joe’s site and I’ve used it for a couple of my own book launches.
If you go over to 8tracks you can listen to music all day long and never pay a cent.
I get offers from the New York Times almost daily on buying a cheap subscription and they keep giving me free access to content to get me to subscribe. Maybe I will, but I don’t need to because I have access to Google News and I can read more news for free in one day than I could ever dare to actually pay for in a lifetime.
So, what I am trying to say is that most people do not care about your new book and getting them to notice, much less care about it is a herculean task.
What’s even more challenging, as I pointed out above, is charging for your work. Writing, publishing and marketing a book is not free, with cover design, editing, formatting, and marketing etc… If done well, your book will cost you thousands if you self-publish, which most authors are now doing.
You’re not a corporation and you will probably put several of your much needed, food-on-the-table, paychecks into your book.
People do not care.
They’ve got to put food on the table too and as I pointed out, they can get their entertainment and news for free.
Asking even for 99cents is now considered too much to a lot of people, whereas a few years ago 99cents was a no-brainer. So you decide to undervalue your work and give it away for free, but people have so much free stuff to read, listen to, and watch already, so why should they click on your free work?
If what I am writing about here sounds like a nightmare scenario, it’s because it is. But, don’t worry, I’m going to tell you how we can start fixing it.
Last week, when I launched my new book, I sent out an email to a few friends asking if they would let their readers know about it. All of them were kind enough to do so, and likewise, I would do the same for them.
However, I received a reply from K.M. Weiland of Helping Writers Become Authors and she told me that she shared it and also purchased a copy.
When I read her message I kicked myself for not attaching a digital copy of the book to the original email. I told her that and she replied she was more than happy to purchase it because she wanted to read it and that it was a pleasure for her to help me out with an uptick in my Amazon rankings.
Her reply floored me! Seriously folks, how cool is that?
Recently, also with Katie, I did a group promotion where we offered our books for 99cents each and I purchased a copy from all of the authors who participated.
This is how you make a difference. All of us have to examine our own purchasing habits, especially for books. If we are not willing to spend money on books we want to read, whether they’re on promotion or not, then how can any of us expect anyone to purchase our work?
Does it mean others will do likewise in kind? Well, maybe, maybe not, but if it doesn’t start with us, who does it start with?
When I took my book off of promotion I received more than a handful of angry emails that my promotion time had been too short. In reality, most authors offer their book on promotion for 99cents for merely one day, but I offered it for a weekend and added the Monday.
I’m not defending my promotion; however, what I will say is this, if you’re an author and you’re not willing to spend money on a book you want to read, then I recommend you never publish any books that you want to sell. Yeah, I said it. And, I’ll tell you why.
If even writers do not want to spend a few bucks on books that interest them, then how can we have the audacity to want to publish anything to sell?
What I am doing here is pointing out a very real problem that no one seems to want to address, and it’s the reason a lot of writers may never stand out and sell their work.
We have to start with our own consumption habits. Are we looking for cheap stuff, promotional stuff, or worse, are we looking for handouts?
Or, will we pay the price for something we care about?
It starts with you and me, we have the challenge of creating change and if we don’t do it, then we cannot, and should not, expect our audience to do it.
Although, Weiland didn’t intend to, she inspired me to look in the mirror, make a unique purchase, and write this post.
There was a book I wanted to read and I was waiting for it to come out on paperback and instead, I went ahead and purchased the hardback. The author put a lot of time and energy into writing that book and he deserved for me to buy the hardback version and not wait for the cheaper one.
If I don’t purchase his hardback, then why should I expect anyone to purchase mine?
That’s my point. If we want to stand out as writers and charge for our work, we have to look in the mirror first.
This goes for all artists.
Think about it.
I’d love to hear your take on this, share your opinion in the comments.