Are you trying to sell a book you’ve already published?
Perhaps you had a co-publishing agreement, but you and your publisher are stuck on real book promotion techniques that work, and now you can’t sell a book to save your lives?
Maybe you’re tired of spamming Facebook and other groups just cos you’re trying to sell a book. And it’s not even working; you keep getting banned.
You’ve reduced the price of your book and even made it free, but nobody’s buying.
Or you’ve actually sold some copies; just not as many as you’d like, and you feel sad when you remember how much you spent on it.
Maybe you’ve gone down the paid ads route – Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub, Amazon, press releases and others – but instead of helping you sell your book, all you have is a huge hole in your pocket (or bank account).
You’re why I’ve written this blog post.
I have an idea how you feel and if you read to the end, you’ll know why your efforts so far haven’t yielded the results you would like, and you’ll come away knowing what to do to promote and sell a book you’ve already published.
Ideally, you should have sorted all these before you actually published your book, but all hope is not lost. Yet. Check out these seven tips below
1) Make the book the best
Although it’s true that the best books don’t always become bestsellers, you need to give your book a fighting chance.
Is your book well-written? Is the message clear? Was the book professionally edited?
Truth is, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you can publish a book for free or on a shoestring budget, or how much you want to believe it, if your book doesn’t tick certain boxes, you really need to return to the drawing board.
Else you’re just not going to be able to sell a book you’ve already published, no matter how much you spent or how hard you try.
2) Put your audience front and centre
Who did you write the book for? Please, note that everybody is NOT an audience.
Have you managed to figure out who your audience is? And are they different from your ideal reader?
Your ideal reader is who you want to read your book, but your audience is the person with decision-making and purchasing power.
So, say you’re trying to sell a book you’ve already published to 12year-olds, as your book’s ideal reader is a 12year old.
While it’s possible for some 12year-olds to buy books for themselves, you might be better off targeting their parents, teachers, other guardians or board members of the school that 12year old attends, as your audience.
Then, there are times when your ideal reader is your target audience; if you’ve written a book on childbirth for expectant mothers, an expectant mother is your ideal reader as well as a segment of your target audience.
In putting your audience front and centre, to sell a book you’ve already published, you need to ask yourself certain questions:
- Is your target audience or ideal reader already looking for a book like yours?
- What does the cover of your book look like? Was it produced by a professional? Or did you knock out something on Photoshop or Canva that you thought looked good?
- Is your book cover so different from others within the genre you’ve written in, that your ideal reader or audience wouldn’t think your book belongs on that genre’s shelf?
- What is your book title? Does it convey a clear meaning or idea to your audience about the message of your book?
- Or is it just something you thought was clever but is difficult for others to figure out?
- What about your book description? Is it clear and descriptive enough to hook readers who would be interested in the content?
- If you’re trying to get your book into libraries, why would they want your book? (“My book is amazing” is not an answer).
- If you’re trying to get an independent bookstore or your local bookstore to carry your book, why should they agree? What is your book offering them that they didn’t have before, cannot get on their own, or another author/book cannot give them? (“My awesome book” is NOT the answer to this question.)
- If your audience is hard of hearing, why have you published just an audiobook?
- If your audience is not on social media, why are you spending all your time there, shouting Buy my book into the abyss?
- If your target audience is on Twitter, what are you doing on Instagram?
- If your book is romance fiction, why is your social media page full of pictures of you testing out make-up looks?
- Your book is Coming of Age fiction that would be suitable for secondary school students in Nigeria, but your Facebook statuses are full of swear words and your Instagram feed has pictures of you smoking shisha with Nollywood actors of questionable character; which Nigerian parent or teacher of a Nigerian teenager in a Nigerian secondary school, will want your book near their child/ward? Or are you going to use juju to make them buy from you?
- If most of your target audience own EPUB readers but live in Nigeria, why is your book sold only on Amazon?
Despite the fact that your book has your name on it, it’s not about you; it’s about your audience or your ideal reader.
If you’re serious about wanting to sell a book or more, you need to put your audience front and centre.
This means think of what they want, why, how, and where they want it.
Have you made it possible for them to recognise your book as their solution? And have you made it easy for them to access?
If you don’t have positive answers to these questions and more, that’s why you’re unable to sell a book you’ve already published.
3) Build a strong author brand
So, when you’ve recognised your audience, their needs, desires and even where they are, WHY should they listen to you?
I found this out after I released my first book but if you don’t give that audience a strong reason to pick your book everytime, you are going to have problems trying to sell a book you’ve already published.
Because people buy from those they know, like and trust; would you buy a product from a brand you’ve never heard of before?
There you go.
A strong and recognisable author brand is the reason people will gravitate towards one book instead of another.
Because that author has taken time and employed various tools (including their website, social media, book covers for series, etc) over time to create something that readers have come to expect and appreciate.
That’s their brand, which is why if you heard that Martina Cole had started releasing romance books, you would wonder why.
Just like if you heard that Lynda La Plante had started releasing chick lit, you’d probably think, “What’s going on?”
If you don’t intentionally create it, people will assign anything to you and you won’t like it.
I didn’t know how to figure it out at first, but it was after my second book came out, that I knew the author brand for Choma Nnani.
It’s not the new Chimamanda, it’s not a fresh African voice; no.
It’s Chioma Nnani writes multicultural fiction for women aged 18+ who want to be strong, independent and fulfilled. That is the brand statement; that’s what people can expect over and over again.
What is your author brand?
4) Have an actual marketing plan
How are you going to sell a book if you don’t have a definite marketing plan?
You’ll just keep spending money and running around in circles cos you don’t even know if something counts as a win.
You won’t know if you need to zero in on one thing, dial back on another, up the ante with a third, or completely avoid something in your marketing efforts.
If you want to sell copies of the book you’ve already published, please have a marketing plan.
And please, realise that “I want to sell a book” is not a marketing plan.
5) Get reviews
This is something you should have started doing before you published your book but if you’re going to sell a book you’ve already published, getting reviews is non-negotiable.
How many times have you eagerly bought a product without finding out others’ experience of its supposed benefits, just because the manufacturer says it’s a wonderful product?
There you go.
The same principle works with books. If nobody has reviewed your book, it’ll be difficult for others to take a chance on you.
But if reviews are posted in the very places where your audience is already looking, your chances of being able to sell a book you’ve already published, increase.
Of course, you’re not going to get all five-star reviews (and you really shouldn’t), else your audience will believe you got all your friends and family to spam the place.
That’s not to say that people who know you or are part of your personal life are barred from reviewing your book; it just stands to reason that they might give you a higher star rating than a more objective reader.
While you can reach out to book reviewers individually, there are also book review services – some of which are paid.
The most popular are Goodreads, Netgalley, BookSirens and BookSprout.
You can also leave a link in your book if there’s an eBook version, directing your paying readers to please take time to leave a review where you bought it.
6) Be open to collaborations and learning opportunities
Per your marketing plan, collaborate with people and platforms who already have access to your target audience, in order to sell a book you’ve already published.
Consider speaking gigs, book blog tours, guest blog posts, podcasts, radio interviews, TV interviews, newspaper features, letting your book be part of a box set or anthology, and cross promotions with other authors.
If you have a traditional publishing deal or a co-publishing deal, collaborate with them or you may find it difficult (if not impossible) to sell a book you’ve already published.
No publisher will do all the marketing for you but it’s also foolhardy to cut them out of plans to sell a book you’ve already published – especially if they have nothing to gain from your book being stagnant.
Also, be open to constantly learning more of what you need to know, to sell a book you’ve already published.
This isn’t as self-explanatory as it may first seem.
Because on the one hand, simply spending money on advertising because you want to sell a book you’ve already published, won’t necessarily make a reader buy if you haven’t done your ground work first.
Yet, some of your audience may not see or take notice if you don’t advertise your book.
Putting your book on Amazon, Kobo, Okadabooks or your website isn’t enough.
There are many ways to advertise – from TV or radio advertising, to book blogs, social media, and even using influencers.
With paid advertising, you want to grab the attention of your audience and have them actually wanting to buy your book.
And sometimes, that doesn’t happen with the first ad, first interaction, or overnight. You might need to keep tweaking things in your ad to see what works best or not at all.
But your audience does need to know that your book exists, what it can do for them and where to get it – if you really want to sell a book you’ve already published.
Now you’ve reached the end of this post, did we deliver? Have you gotten any insight into why before now, you’ve not been able to sell a book you’ve already published? Let us know in the comments section below.