Friday, February 10, 2012

You can sell more books if readers pull them, than if you have to push them

If you are  a writer, you can write whatever you want to write — but it might not get published.

If you are a writer and a publisher you can publish anything you want. But that freedom doesn't guarantee profitability.

If you want to make money rather than just fulfill a dream or impress your parents or children or inflate your ego, it’s better to think carefully about what you will  publish.

It’s very difficult to sell lots of copies of a self-published novel or poetry book. (But it's easier to sell them as 99-cent ebooks than $20 or $30 pbooks.)

These books depend on push marketing — you have to “push” your books on the public that has no real need for your work.

In order to sell thousands of copies of a fiction or poetry book, you will have to be either extremely lucky (not likely) or generate a huge amount of “buzz” through viral marketing and public relations (time-consuming and often expensive) or impress one or more  reviewers enough to praise you in the media (more likely for aAmazon than the NY Times).

On the other hand, if you write nonfiction about an interesting and important subject — or even better — a how-to book, you can use much simpler pull marketing and have a much greater chance of success.

  • With pull marketing, you take advantage of an existing desire by the public to know more about a subject. Readers will "pull" the books from you.People who want to know more about growing strawberries, raising an autistic child, getting a college scholarship, building a log cabin or traveling with a dog, will search for that information on Google, Bing, Amazon or elsewhere and hopefully will find your book.

Pick something you know about, that you can contribute something new about, that lots of people care about, and that lots of people have not already written about. Pick a hot topic, and one that may stay hot, or at least warm, for a few years. Consider combining two hot topics such as “Gay weddings on a tight budget.”

  • You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world, or know more than everybody else does, to give advice and get paid for it. You can make a pretty good living if you know more than 90%, 80% or even 20% of the people in the world — if they can find you.

Effective marketing, important information and good writing and design are vital — but not enough. Even timing is important.

Timing is important. Sales of Jerome Corsi’s book questioning President Obama’s birthplace dropped to almost nothing because it was published shortly after Obama released his birth certificate to the public.

The world’s best book about Herman Cain (or even a lousy book by Herman Cain) will probably sell a lot worse now than before he "suspended" his race for the GOP presidential nomination. However, if Rick Santorum is nominated and Herman is his choice for Veep, then books about him get another chance.

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