KB Featured Book
Wish Granted! Tips, Tools, and Templates to Write a Winning Grant
by Holly Rustick

$1.99
Kindle Edition published 2017-08-22
Bestseller ranking: 95983

Product Description
INCLUDES BONUS FREE E-DOWNLOADS: TEMPLATES FOR GRANT WRITING!

Grant writing shouldn’t feel like a trip to the dentist. Take the pain out of the process with this innovative and fun, yes fun, guide. Learn all the inside tips and tools of the grant-writing trade in this easy-to-read and upbeat book.
This book is definitely for you if:
•You break out in a cold sweat when your boss mentions the word ‘grant’.
•You’ve been tempted to throw your computer against the wall while writing a grant.
•You happily tell stakeholders there’s plenty of grants out there … but haven’t the faintest idea how to write and get one!
•You think you can send out a bog-standard letter to a bunch of organizations and get funded.
•Your eyes glaze over when you’re presented with grant writing jargon and acronyms.
•Your organization’s grant success A-game has r...

Author Topic: Sell Loads of Books - My System Spelled Out  (Read 104309 times)  

Online she-la-ti-da

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 5934
  • in the bunker
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #100 on: May 08, 2013, 04:55:58 AM »
Thanks for posting this, Russell. I really enjoy reading about other author's methods and experiences. Between DWS, Elle and now you, I've gotten a lot of things to mull over, and experiment with.

Folks, like any advice, take what you can from this, and ignore the rest. It's worth trying a successful writer's ideas, whether you initially agree or not. You never know what might be the very thing that pushes you over the edge into the big time. :)
Queen of Procrasti Nation

Genres: speculative fiction under main pen name.




Offline AKMartin

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 328
  • Gender: Male
  • Ireland
    • View Profile
    • Razberry Juice women's online magazine
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #101 on: May 08, 2013, 04:57:29 AM »
Some Great info and lost of help and thoughts
nice share

thanks

Anthony
For authors who wish to submit their book for reviewing to Razberry Juice,
Please send in mobi file format with brief a outline, rough word count, genre and any relevant links or information to info@razberryjuice.com


Writer, Designer, Thinker
Check Out Our Online Womens & Mens's Magazines

www.razberryjuice.com | www.kewelworld.com

Offline P.J. Post

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2490
  • There is no spoon.
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #102 on: May 08, 2013, 05:30:48 AM »
Blake, thanks for the discussions (this thread and others).  You're a breath of fresh air and just what the Cafe needed.  I like your directness and conviction regarding the business, but it's clear you have a passion for the craft as well.

With that said, it is interesting that everything you recommended has been discussed at length on this board over the last year.  Business threads usually die rather quickly around here though.  I think the difference with your post is that, 1) you put it all together in one place in a direct and uncompromising manner, and 2) you bring authority with your recommendations, because the ranks of your books demonstrate your sales success.

I think the biggest problem many self-publishers have is that they don't really understand the fundamentals of business and marketing and therefore have a difficult time developing strategies, (this isn't meant as an insult, unless you went to college for business or worked at the upper levels of management, there is no way you would know this stuff).  Everything Blake is discussing is Business 101.

Marketing is comprised of Product (Book), Price, Place (Distribution Channels) and Promotions (covers, blurbs, logos, advertising, sales, gimmicks, public relations, etc.).  How these combine to create strategy is referred to as the Marketing Mix.  The Marketing Mix is the tool used to define your brand.

Branding strategy, (which has dominated retail for a couple of decades now), is based upon three components: 1) a visual representation of the brand (packaging and logos), 2) providing a consistent product that satisfies consumer expectations with an implied value - not a price value, but more of a self actualization value, (product, price, distribution channel) and 3) a significant market presence in terms of both promotional activity and products (shelf space, product line expansion, etc.).

So, if we look at what Blake recommends and analyze his own marketing strategy: (Please correct me if I get any of this wrong)

Product - well written, well packaged and consistently reinforcing the brand and satisfying consumer expectations.  Check
Price - consistent with the brand, professionally competitive and set to establish and reinforce the image of product quality, while including promotional considerations.  Check.
Place - no information on this one, but being on Amazon is a pretty wide channel.  Check
Promotion - everything stated indicates that Blake has an ongoing social/public media presence, advertises and promotes his brand.  Check

Branding:
1) His books are professionally packaged and consistently reinforce the genre
2) His books deliver on their promise to readers, consistently providing the reading experience desired
3) He promotes and advertises and uses sales promotions (gimmicks) consistently and effectively within the expectations of his readers

And all of this was done in conjunction with continual market research (reading the genre and keeping up with its top sellers and how their marketing strategies were developing).

The big thing he did was that he defined his business very narrowly and focused all of his resources on that target.  This is known as target marketing, or segmenting the market into slices that you can then offer products to, products that they want.

None of this is about "Selling", it is about giving people what they already want, and doing it really well - over and over, and that is how you build Brand Loyalty.

Another very important point Blake makes is to define your own goals and work towards them.  His isn't the only way, but it is the best way to sell lots of books, because his strategy is based upon decades of demonstrable retail business strategy.

Anyway, thanks again Blake.  I look forward to more of your posts.






 

Offline ellecasey

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3311
  • Gender: Female
  • USA & France
  • It's my book! I do what I want!
    • View Profile
    • Elle Casey, Author
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #103 on: May 08, 2013, 06:37:52 AM »
Blake, thanks for the discussions (this thread and others).  You're a breath of fresh air and just what the Cafe needed.  I like your directness and conviction regarding the business, but it's clear you have a passion for the craft as well.

With that said, it is interesting that everything you recommended has been discussed at length on this board over the last year.  Business threads usually die rather quickly around here though.  I think the difference with your post is that, 1) you put it all together in one place in a direct and uncompromising manner, and 2) you bring authority with your recommendations, because the ranks of your books demonstrate your sales success.

I think the biggest problem many self-publishers have is that they don't really understand the fundamentals of business and marketing and therefore have a difficult time developing strategies, (this isn't meant as an insult, unless you went to college for business or worked at the upper levels of management, there is no way you would know this stuff).  Everything Blake is discussing is Business 101.

Marketing is comprised of Product (Book), Price, Place (Distribution Channels) and Promotions (covers, blurbs, logos, advertising, sales, gimmicks, public relations, etc.).  How these combine to create strategy is referred to as the Marketing Mix.  The Marketing Mix is the tool used to define your brand.

Branding strategy, (which has dominated retail for a couple of decades now), is based upon three components: 1) a visual representation of the brand (packaging and logos), 2) providing a consistent product that satisfies consumer expectations with an implied value - not a price value, but more of a self actualization value, (product, price, distribution channel) and 3) a significant market presence in terms of both promotional activity and products (shelf space, product line expansion, etc.).

So, if we look at what Blake recommends and analyze his own marketing strategy: (Please correct me if I get any of this wrong)

Product - well written, well packaged and consistently reinforcing the brand and satisfying consumer expectations.  Check
Price - consistent with the brand, professionally competitive and set to establish and reinforce the image of product quality, while including promotional considerations.  Check.
Place - no information on this one, but being on Amazon is a pretty wide channel.  Check
Promotion - everything stated indicates that Blake has an ongoing social/public media presence, advertises and promotes his brand.  Check

Branding:
1) His books are professionally packaged and consistently reinforce the genre
2) His books deliver on their promise to readers, consistently providing the reading experience desired
3) He promotes and advertises and uses sales promotions (gimmicks) consistently and effectively within the expectations of his readers

And all of this was done in conjunction with continual market research (reading the genre and keeping up with its top sellers and how their marketing strategies were developing).

The big thing he did was that he defined his business very narrowly and focused all of his resources on that target.  This is known as target marketing, or segmenting the market into slices that you can then offer products to, products that they want.

None of this is about "Selling", it is about giving people what they already want, and doing it really well - over and over, and that is how you build Brand Loyalty.

Another very important point Blake makes is to define your own goals and work towards them.  His isn't the only way, but it is the best way to sell lots of books, because his strategy is based upon decades of demonstrable retail business strategy.

Anyway, thanks again Blake.  I look forward to more of your posts.

Nice breakdown and tie in with a decent college course synopsis on marketing.  :)  I'm going to print this baby.

Offline Adam Pepper

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1100
    • View Profile
    • www.AdamPepper.com
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #104 on: May 08, 2013, 06:45:32 AM »
I actually had a different ending in mind, but upon rethinking it over the last week, I realized that it would be too much of a downer for many casual readers, even if it was the most impactful. Which is a shame, because I find myself self-censoring based on what my business sense says will be most popular, versus what makes for the best book.

This is a really interesting position to take. So your publisher's hat isnt only on when it comes to selling the product.  Your publisher alterego actually can overrule the artist, at the expense of the story.

Offline NathanHaleJefferson

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 124
    • View Profile
    • Abundant Future Media
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #105 on: May 08, 2013, 07:10:35 AM »
This is a really interesting position to take. So your publisher's hat isnt only on when it comes to selling the product.  Your publisher alterego actually can overrule the artist, at the expense of the story.

After talking to about a dozen authors in the past month or two, reading thousands of reviews, hundreds of posts, etc.  I think you can boil down the most important part of selling books to:

Write what readers want.

If you want to sell books, that is unfortunately what you need to do.

I've made dozens of compromises in my book, in style, language and word use.  I want the bad guy to cuss like a sailor, my audience won't buy my books if he does.  I want the good guys to lose more, my audience won't buy my books if they do. 

A great example are these two books: http://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-David-Crawford/dp/0615427359/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368022052&sr=8-1&keywords=lights+out which gets rave reviews and has a HUGE fanbase. 

And his second book which I find to be much better http://www.amazon.com/Collision-Course-David-Crawford/dp/0451238079/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368022110&sr=1-3 which gets tons of bad reviews, doesn't sell nearly as well, and gets the writer flamed from here to timbucktoo. 

What's the difference?  He didn't write what the majority of his readers wanted, even though to some people like it much more.
The Wayward Journey, Available at Amazon! http://amzn.to/14Yg5bi

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #106 on: May 08, 2013, 07:27:12 AM »
cdv and ash: Joe Nobody is a colloquialism. Like Joe Average or Joe Mainstreet. While I'd love to think I coined it and can claim it from all who have used it, I'm afraid others got there first. Sigh.

Adam: Well, yes, I suppose it can, just as in the real world, your trad pub editor can say, "You need to change that, that and that, or we can't sell this." Unlike in that situation, I can always choose to ignore it, but then I risk the readers acting as the final editorial word and disliking the book because I didn't listen to my business side. I believe I've developed a keen enough instinct after 20 books to sort of know what's going to tick my audience off and make them dislike a book. Profanity is one - it's okay to have fairly graphic sex scenes, but God forbid someone tosses an F bomb. It's just the market we sell in. And we ignore its vagaries at our peril. Besides which, it's not like our "inner artist" is infallible or some kind of minor deity. It's just our creative side, and sometimes that bugger needs to be reined in and spooned a dose of reality, or it will be triumphant but broke. Been there, done that, rather like the compromise I've arrived at. My inner artist would be writing Lord of the Flies or The Magic Mountain right now, instead of conspiracy thrillers, but it would also not be selling any books, so that's counterproductive for my book selling business. As with all things, the inner battles are the hardest to fight, but I don't ignore my gut lightly these days. Doesn't mean you have to, or that it's the only way.

Nathan: Si, senor. Above all, you have to feed the beast what it wants.

cc: Yup. Although I learned all this from the school of hard knocks, the essentials remain the same in any business. You can sell once, and it's a transaction. To sell multiple times to the same consumer you need to develop brand loyalty, and above all, consistently deliver value. That's what it comes down to. As authors, we can create worlds out of thin air, which is a noble pursuit and a kind of magic. But once we've done so, if we want to sell our work to readers, we become mundane peddlers, business people manufacturing and selling a product, and then all the normal dynamics of business kick in. All I've done here is provide a punch list that should act as a reasonable guide. If it helps someone, super. If not, then hopefully they will devise their own successful strategy and post it here for us to consider.

Scott: I retired about a decade ago and moved to Mexico. I was fortunate enough to sell the company I started. This is my retirement passion, but I obviously bring to it some business acumen that served me well in my past life.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 07:40:12 AM by blakebooks »


Offline dianasg

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 560
  • Gender: Female
  • Greener pastures!
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #107 on: May 08, 2013, 08:55:49 AM »
I just wanted to jump in and say that this thread is absolutely priceless - there's so much great information here, so thank you to both Russell & C.C.

Russell, I especially appreciated your thoughts on balancing your 'inner artist' against your inner editor/publisher. It's not easy to balance what you want to write with what the market wants to read.

I think someone upthread mentioned wanting to write in a genre they strongly dislike in order to sell books. To that I'd say: be careful. Do your research. Readers of genres like romance and YA might be the biggest group of book buyers, but they are not indiscriminate book buyers. If you (general you!) put forward something that betrays an unfamiliarity with or contempt for the genre, they will know! Romance and YA readers are a wonderfully loyal but often tough crowd - maybe because it's an especially crowded market for those genres, and they have to be pretty discerning.

Offline cdvsmx5

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 330
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #108 on: May 08, 2013, 09:22:30 AM »
cdv and ash: Joe Nobody is a colloquialism. Like Joe Average or Joe Mainstreet. While I'd love to think I coined it and can claim it from all who have used it, I'm afraid others got there first. Sigh.
...

This is not a colloquialism, the informal replacement for a formal term, such as tart replaces prostitute.

What it is to me and should be to anyone not taking this too seriously, is funny. Any example would have done, this was the first I found. You could ignore it (your first choice), treat me as a lesser being and explain it (your second choice, but done in haste) or laugh.

I followed your blog for awhile, right up to your reaction to John Locke's review scandal. 'Why this, why now?'

The answer is self promotion to sell more books. I expect this thread will sell some books and gain additional admiration.

I have no objection to you sharing your methods with others, if complete. But I fear, like Locke's advice, a critically important piece is missing. Your detailed list of 26 and a half only uses the word review twice. Later, you steer away from questions of reviews.

Odd?

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #109 on: May 08, 2013, 09:27:31 AM »
Diana: Thanks for the warm praise. It means a lot. If you think it's something that others would find of value, feel free to link it, repost it with attribution, Tweet or Facebook it, whatever. That goes for everyone who's asked. Have at it. It's now part of the public domain, so to speak.

One of my editors once said that smart people can never write dumb - that it just doesn't work. I will expand upon that idea and underscore the belief that you can't write well in a genre that you don't like/love and aren't intimately familiar with. I agree that readers can sniff fakery or insincerity from a mile away, and it's a bad idea, overall. And as you point out, even if those are large markets, they are crowded markets with literally hundreds of thousands of pretenders to the crown, all trying to get a foothold. I think it's akin to looking at McDonalds and thinking, "Hey, I'll just make a slightly better burger than theirs, price it a hair cheaper, and then I'll be a billionaire too!" Everything ALWAYS looks easier the less you know about it. I call it the dilettantism fallacy.

Look, the odds in this game are very long against making it. They just are. That's the truth. They always have been. And now that there are literally no barriers to anyone slapping a book up on Amazon, they are even longer. I truly believe that writing should be its own reward, because the chances that anyone is going to make real money at this on a sustained basis are slim. That said, write what you love, and what you feel compelled to write, and certainly try to bring a business-like approach to the business side of it. These are all things that can help narrow the odds some. I believe that cumulatively, the steps I outline will narrow them considerably, but I also know that most won't follow the steps as they're too hard, or make it all seem like it's not a lot of fun, or require too much commitment. That's fine. Starting a business from scratch in a highly-competitive field is all those things. I simply don't understand those who expect to start one and have it go, and yet haven't done the work to create a sustainable business. It's like they're hoping for it to drop from the sky or something. I don't get it.

But I'm not here to advocate a 12-step program for writers. I'm just throwing my process out there, and the way I organize my worldview, my perspective of the biz. If others have successful approaches, I'm all ears. Because one of my beliefs is that you have to remain flexible, and pay attention to what's working.

So far, so good.


Offline Susanne.

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
  • Gender: Female
  • Europe
    • View Profile
    • Susanne
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #110 on: May 08, 2013, 09:48:30 AM »
Diana: Thanks for the warm praise. It means a lot. If you think it's something that others would find of value, feel free to link it, repost it with attribution, Tweet or Facebook it, whatever. That goes for everyone who's asked. Have at it. It's now part of the public domain, so to speak.

One of my editors once said that smart people can never write dumb - that it just doesn't work. I will expand upon that idea and underscore the belief that you can't write well in a genre that you don't like/love and aren't intimately familiar with. I agree that readers can sniff fakery or insincerity from a mile away, and it's a bad idea, overall. And as you point out, even if those are large markets, they are crowded markets with literally hundreds of thousands of pretenders to the crown, all trying to get a foothold. I think it's akin to looking at McDonalds and thinking, "Hey, I'll just make a slightly better burger than theirs, price it a hair cheaper, and then I'll be a billionaire too!" Everything ALWAYS looks easier the less you know about it. I call it the dilettantism fallacy.

Look, the odds in this game are very long against making it. They just are. That's the truth. They always have been. And now that there are literally no barriers to anyone slapping a book up on Amazon, they are even longer. I truly believe that writing should be its own reward, because the chances that anyone is going to make real money at this on a sustained basis are slim. That said, write what you love, and what you feel compelled to write, and certainly try to bring a business-like approach to the business side of it. These are all things that can help narrow the odds some. I believe that cumulatively, the steps I outline will narrow them considerably, but I also know that most won't follow the steps as they're too hard, or make it all seem like it's not a lot of fun, or require too much commitment. That's fine. Starting a business from scratch in a highly-competitive field is all those things. I simply don't understand those who expect to start one and have it go, and yet haven't done the work to create a sustainable business. It's like they're hoping for it to drop from the sky or something. I don't get it.

But I'm not here to advocate a 12-step program for writers. I'm just throwing my process out there, and the way I organize my worldview, my perspective of the biz. If others have successful approaches, I'm all ears. Because one of my beliefs is that you have to remain flexible, and pay attention to what's working.

So far, so good.

I get what you're saying, Russell and admire all you've achieved and your commitment to your work and the promotional side of it all.

I like doing my own thing and mostly just drive by the seat of my pants. What works for me might not work for others and vice versa.

You say the odds are very long against making it. But that depends how you qualify 'making it'. If you mean earning enough money to live on, yes then the odds are huge. But if 'making it' means selling enough books every month to have a smallish income, or enough to pay a bill or two and sill have enough left over for a meal in a restaurant or a couple of beers, then that's quite achievable without spending much time promoting.

If you write what you love and what you feel compelled to write, then you will also write the best you can. If, in addition you make sure your work is polished and edited, with good covers, then you have a good product to sell. But how you promote and what works is very individual. You have to sell yourself too, get your voice and personality out there, rather than touting your books 100% of the time. What has worked for me has been writing blog posts on all kind of subjects, my Facebook page and a few quirky tweets here and there, not always shouting 'buy my book'.

It's quite a fine line to market without appearing to do so...

Susanne O'Leary | website | blog | facebook | writer's forum

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #111 on: May 08, 2013, 09:51:07 AM »
cdv: There's an expression in psychology. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I'm not sure why you're spoiling for a fight, but I'm not here to spar. I didn't choose to ignore you at first - I didn't realize your comment was directed at me, as I don't remember every word of every interview I've done over the last two years. Once I did realize it was directed at me, I replied. You have corrected my incorrect usage of the term colloquial, for which pedants everywhere are thankful, as am I, and then implied that I am hopeful that my little missive sells books for me, and that further, there is some Locke-ism at work, namely that there's something more to my success than what I've shared.

Sorry. Not the case. First of all, sales since yesterday have been the lowest in the last month, so if this is my big marketing push, it's a flawed one, as authors are notoriously NOT book buyers. I mean, some do buy books, but most don't.

Where did I steer away from the question of reviews? I only wrote, what, about 5000 or 6000 words of replies yesterday (maybe more). I don't recall ducking the "tough" review questions. What were they? Do you recall?

I don't particularly think that reviews, beyond a certain point, much matter to anyone. Maybe they did three years ago, but that well is so tainted that it's no longer useful, I think. And given that Amazon removes any that are even slightly iffy, I'd say that ship sailed a long time ago. I use reviews as a general barometer - specifically, the ratio. Most bestsellers have a 10-20% ratio of one and two star reviews to positive ones. If your ratio is lower than that, all's well. If it is edging higher, the reviews might be telling you something. But occasional bad reviews are a fact of life. I've written about reviews EXTENSIVELY on my blog, which even a casual reader can go verify. So I think you're going down a barren path here.

I think that the reason lots of people buy my books is because they get good word of mouth and they like them. I think that Amazon singled me out as one of the few indies to get a Kindle Daily Deal because their editorial staff thought they don't suck, either. I believe that if I'm still selling lots of books five years from now it will have little to do with anything but the quality of the work and the continued intelligent application of my approach.

You are of course free to believe whatever you like. If there's some element in my 26 steps you find are duplicitous, or misleading, or won't work for you, that's fine. Don't use them. Use your own. In fact, publish your own. Let everyone know what your approach is to becoming a successful author, and publish your results, as well, so we can gauge the merits of your system based on your actual outcome.

I think the thing you're missing here is that unlike Locke, I'm not trying to charge anyone a dime for my counsel. Some may think it's worth what they paid for it. Others may find it useful. My life, or the price of tea, isn't going to change either way. I suppose I should take your response to it the same way as with reviews - if 100 are positive, and one is snarky and negative, it probably isn't the book that's the problem.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 10:03:58 AM by blakebooks »


Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #112 on: May 08, 2013, 10:00:30 AM »
Susanne: I don't recommend touting your book all the time. Nobody likes constant advertisements. I used to auto-program tweets with bits from reviews in them and a link to my books, but stopped that about 9 months ago, because it frankly felt kind of spammy. My sales didn't drop a bit. Nowadays I only tweet links to my blog, and the RTs of other authors. Same with Facebook. I post notable occurrences, or promotional pricing, but primarily I post links to my blogs and I try to interact with readers.

You'll see in my steps that I devote a fair amount of time to setting achievable, realistic goals based on what you have the time and resources for. Obviously, my approach is best suited for someone who wants to become a vocational author and who has the ability and desire to operate a book selling business. But if someone wants to scale that back because they can't commit the time/money/effort, then all the same elements apply, but at a reduced intensity level. I'm a huge believer in getting clear on what you want, and then being realistic as to what it's going to take to get it. I think it's setting yourself up for heartbreak if you want to earn a living wage from your book selling business, and yet can only invest an hour or two a day. I don't know of many businesses that you can invest ten hours a week into that will support you, and I'm pretty sure that book selling ain't it. So I counsel being honest with yourself about what you're willing to do, and allowing that to dictate what your objective is. Obviously, I work 12-15 hour days, seven days a week, to achieve my objective. Virtually nobody is willing to do that. For good reason. I don't blame them. But my personality is such that that's how I roll, and when I go, I go all in. I want to be a respected name in this biz, and make decent money, and have a good career. I don't know how to do that without throwing my back into it with everything I have. I'm not advocating that. I'm just explaining what I do. Those who wish to try it are welcome to. Those who aren't I wish nothing but luck, because we're all going to need it.


Offline Susanne.

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
  • Gender: Female
  • Europe
    • View Profile
    • Susanne
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #113 on: May 08, 2013, 10:08:36 AM »
Susanne: I don't recommend touting your book all the time. Nobody likes constant advertisements. I used to auto-program tweets with bits from reviews in them and a link to my books, but stopped that about 9 months ago, because it frankly felt kind of spammy. My sales didn't drop a bit. Nowadays I only tweet links to my blog, and the RTs of other authors. Same with Facebook. I post notable occurrences, or promotional pricing, but primarily I post links to my blogs and I try to interact with readers.

You'll see in my steps that I devote a fair amount of time to setting achievable, realistic goals based on what you have the time and resources for. Obviously, my approach is best suited for someone who wants to become a vocational author and who has the ability and desire to operate a book selling business. But if someone wants to scale that back because they can't commit the time/money/effort, then all the same elements apply, but at a reduced intensity level. I'm a huge believer in getting clear on what you want, and then being realistic as to what it's going to take to get it. I think it's setting yourself up for heartbreak if you want to earn a living wage from your book selling business, and yet can only invest an hour or two a day. I don't know of many businesses that you can invest ten hours a week into that will support you, and I'm pretty sure that book selling ain't it. So I counsel being honest with yourself about what you're willing to do, and allowing that to dictate what your objective is. Obviously, I work 12-15 hour days, seven days a week, to achieve my objective. Virtually nobody is willing to do that. For good reason. I don't blame them. But my personality is such that that's how I roll, and when I go, I go all in. I want to be a respected name in this biz, and make decent money, and have a good career. I don't know how to do that without throwing my back into it with everything I have. I'm not advocating that. I'm just explaining what I do. Those who wish to try it are welcome to. Those who aren't I wish nothing but luck, because we're all going to need it.

I understand that you're not trying to tell people what to do. And it's very generous of you to spend all this time sharing your method. But it all depends on how hungry you are,doesn't it?

I've had great success in the past and one of my novels has sold well over 30000 copies. But that came as a surprise to me,as I hadn't spent much time promoting it at all. It seemed to have attracted that mysterious 'word of mouth'. I don't think there is any one recipe for success, even though yours is great and works for you.

Susanne O'Leary | website | blog | facebook | writer's forum

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #114 on: May 08, 2013, 10:14:08 AM »
Susanne: I don't consider my steps to be a recipe for success. That can largely depend on luck, which is the wild card. I'm more focused on how to reproduce a consistent result, namely modest sales of each title that build to a lot of sales. I frankly have no idea how to make one book sell 30K copies when another, equivalently-crafted book with a similar cover sells 500 copies. And neither do the pros at the big trad publishers. Nobody knows.

I'm advocating a reasoned approach so in the event you don't sell 30K of a title for no discernible reason, you are taking steps to make progress every day.

It's certainly not the only approach. I would actually prefer the one where my next novel breaks out and sells 150K copies and I can do tequila shots off bare tummies on a mega-yacht while my enemies gnash their teeth in rage. If anyone can tell me how to do that, I'd be most appreciative. And no, I don't mean salt first, then lime. I mean the book selling part.


Offline ellecasey

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3311
  • Gender: Female
  • USA & France
  • It's my book! I do what I want!
    • View Profile
    • Elle Casey, Author
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #115 on: May 08, 2013, 10:15:14 AM »
This is not a colloquialism, the informal replacement for a formal term, such as tart replaces prostitute.

What it is to me and should be to anyone not taking this too seriously, is funny. Any example would have done, this was the first I found. You could ignore it (your first choice), treat me as a lesser being and explain it (your second choice, but done in haste) or laugh.

I followed your blog for awhile, right up to your reaction to John Locke's review scandal. 'Why this, why now?'

The answer is self promotion to sell more books. I expect this thread will sell some books and gain additional admiration.

I have no objection to you sharing your methods with others, if complete. But I fear, like Locke's advice, a critically important piece is missing. Your detailed list of 26 and a half only uses the word review twice. Later, you steer away from questions of reviews.

Odd?

This kind of post is what discourages people from sharing their successes and systems for success.  ATTACKS.  Useless, time-wasting attacks, against someone who's trying to help his fellow indie authors for not a single penny.  DWS and his wife both have a friggin paypal tip jar on their sites, but I didn't see the OP asking for tips.  The OP has written a short story here on this thread, of how to be successful writing and publishing books, in his free time for nothing (while he has a book to finish).  If he sells a few books because he was helpful, who cares?  I'm happy to contribute to someone who's helped me.  And guess what?  I like to read good books!  Maybe the OP has some kick butt books.  I'm willing to check them out now that he's brought them to my attention.

The fact that you'd compare the OP's post to John Locke's methods show you have zero understanding of what helping your fellow indie is all about.  I don't know if you're an author or not.  You don't have any books in your sig line.  But if you are, you should know that you'll get more help from people around here if you're less quick to jump to negative conclusions and give people the benefit of the doubt before you accuse them of something ridiculous.

Offline Alan Petersen

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3398
  • Gender: Male
  • San Francisco, CA
  • I write high octane thrillers.
    • View Profile
    • High Octane Action Thrillers from Alan Petersen
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #116 on: May 08, 2013, 10:39:30 AM »
If he sells a few books because he was helpful, who cares?  I'm happy to contribute to someone who's helped me.  And guess what?  I like to read good books!  Maybe the OP has some kick butt books.  I'm willing to check them out now that he's brought them to my attention.

Same here. I usually buy the book of best selling indie authors. I like to read, and you can learn from their success!

That's why I have books like Elle's and Holly which are not a genre I usually read, but it's a great way to support fellow KB'ers that contribute a lot of valuable information for free here! And in my own selfish way I want to see what I can learn from their work.

Although, I have warned my wife that when she sees a book called "Damaged" with a guy's six-pack on the cover, that it's for support of fellow indies and research.  ;D

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #117 on: May 08, 2013, 10:49:00 AM »
Alan: Sure it is.  ;) :o :-*


Offline Soothesayer

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #118 on: May 08, 2013, 10:58:29 AM »
That's fine. Starting a business from scratch in a highly-competitive field is all those things. I simply don't understand those who expect to start one and have it go, and yet haven't done the work to create a sustainable business.

I hear very often that this field is "too competitive" for some. To that I would ask, what field isn't? The field that has the most competition is the field of Not Taking Action. Or quitting. Anyone can decide to take that route. Everyone is guaranteed success. It is easy to say "the chances that anyone is going to make real money at this on a sustained basis are slim"... when one is at the top of the mountain, looking down at us beginning climbers. Anyone can climb. It is those who make the effort consistently over a lengthy period of time that will succeed.

Authors lament all the time about the glut of writers coming into this field. When Obamacare hits employers in a few years, it will triple. I look at the numbers of students graduating with English degrees, Journalism degrees, and no market (offline at least) to apply themselves. When they learn of self-publishing, the number of writers will go through the roof. It will skyrocket. Ironically enough, it may even be easier at that point to spot the good apples from the bad. It will be about the highest quality... who has the BEST stories to tell, and can tell them consistently. Many of them will write one book, maybe two. When it doesn't pay the bills, they'll quit. Just the nature of the business I suppose.

But we shouldn't discourage them by telling them it is too competitive.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 11:00:20 AM by Soothesayer »

Offline bellaandre

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 541
    • View Profile
    • Bella Andre
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #119 on: May 08, 2013, 11:00:56 AM »
Russell,

I just found your post this morning and I have to tell you that the level of awesomeness in your post is blowing my mind. I am bookmarking it and will send the trillion people who email me asking for my "secrets" straight to this link. And I'm right there with you on the 12 hour days, 7 days a week. :)

Three of things that I'd add on from my experience -- I know everyone has different paths, etc, but these 3 additional things have been really important for building my success.

1. Have your ebooks available on all platforms. Apple, BN and Kobo are HUGE parts of my sales/income and getting bigger and bigger all the time. I love Amazon (of course!) and I also love my other three major retailers.

2. Turn your ebooks into Audiobooks. I started doing this a year ago and to say that I'm floored by how much income there is to be made in audiobooks is a massive understatement. My check for March was jaw-dropping.

3. Go to a few select conferences each year around the world and make it a point to meet people and make friends. Everyone in publishing is awesome and in the self-publishing world they turn the dial up to eleven.  

THANKS for putting your thoughts down so brilliantly, Russell. Okay, off to get my words done for the day!

:) Bella

Bella Andre | author website | facebook | twitter

Offline blakebooks

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1186
  • Gender: Male
  • Mexico
  • I'd be too sexy for my shirt if I wore one
    • View Profile
    • Russell Blake Blog
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #120 on: May 08, 2013, 11:06:41 AM »
Bella: You're one of my inspirations, and I figured your work ethic had to be right up there.

I've begun creating audiobooks, and I hope my experience is anywhere as positive as yours. My first, JET, will be releasing shortly. I actually declined a publishing deal (several, in truth) for just audio because after I saw the royalties I could get hiring the talent myself, it made no sense to have them essentially advance the costs in exchange for a big chunk of the cash flow. Hope that was a wise move.

Agreed on having your books everywhere. And I too love Amazon. I would buy them chocolates if I know what flavor they liked.

Only thing I haven't done is the conferences, mainly because I dislike meeting people or traveling unless it's in pursuit of good food and wine. That, and my schedule really has been seven day, 12 to 15 hours, for going on two years. But hopefully next year I'll lighten up a bit. Once I have 25 novels out, I'm pretty sure a dearth of product ain't going to be the problem...


Offline dianasg

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 560
  • Gender: Female
  • Greener pastures!
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #121 on: May 08, 2013, 11:27:58 AM »
2. Turn your ebooks into Audiobooks. I started doing this a year ago and to say that I'm floored by how much income there is to be made in audiobooks is a massive understatement. My check for March was jaw-dropping.

:) Bella

Anecdotally and as an aside -- audiobooks are awesome! In my experience, they make readers out of smart, busy people who like to read but don't usually have the time. How great is that? "Reading" while driving, at the gym, cleaning the pool, cooking dinner for the kids, when you're tired of grading papers, while getting ready in the morning -- these are all occasions I've seen/heard of people listening to audiobooks. 8)

Talk about expanding your audience!

Offline Susanne.

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
  • Gender: Female
  • Europe
    • View Profile
    • Susanne
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #122 on: May 08, 2013, 11:30:31 AM »
Susanne: I don't consider my steps to be a recipe for success. That can largely depend on luck, which is the wild card. I'm more focused on how to reproduce a consistent result, namely modest sales of each title that build to a lot of sales. I frankly have no idea how to make one book sell 30K copies when another, equivalently-crafted book with a similar cover sells 500 copies. And neither do the pros at the big trad publishers. Nobody knows.

I'm advocating a reasoned approach so in the event you don't sell 30K of a title for no discernible reason, you are taking steps to make progress every day.

It's certainly not the only approach. I would actually prefer the one where my next novel breaks out and sells 150K copies and I can do tequila shots off bare tummies on a mega-yacht while my enemies gnash their teeth in rage. If anyone can tell me how to do that, I'd be most appreciative. And no, I don't mean salt first, then lime. I mean the book selling part.

Tequila shots off bare tummies on a yacht...  :D Now I am getting hungry... ;)

*runs to do all 26 steps in one go*

Susanne O'Leary | website | blog | facebook | writer's forum

Offline John Yale

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Gender: Male
  • Orlando
    • View Profile
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books - My Approach
« Reply #123 on: May 08, 2013, 11:39:00 AM »
Russell:

Thanks for your frank advice. I just published my first novel, and I'm working on my second and third, although not as hard as I need to be. You words have inspired me to get moving. Falling prey to Internet distractions is one of my pitfalls, although I discovered your post after seeing it recommended on Reddit, where I happened to be wasting some time, so sometimes it works out.

Time to get back to work writing...

Offline Susanne.

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2141
  • Gender: Female
  • Europe
    • View Profile
    • Susanne
Re: How To Sell Loads of Books - My Approach
« Reply #124 on: May 08, 2013, 11:40:07 AM »
Where does the salt go?   :-\

Oh, okay. I get it.  :)

Susanne O'Leary | website | blog | facebook | writer's forum