What Sells Books?

oncewasoncewas Librarian Librarian

Nothing sells books like word of mouth. I see this with my book sales all the time. A book will sell, which hasn’t sold before, or hasn’t sold for a long time, and then there will be another sale, and another and another.

People will remember your writing long after they have forgotten your cover.


Comments

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor

    Indeed. But someone has to have a reason to pick up that first copy.

    Besides, as I have pointed out endlessly in these forums, a book's cover is only part of its marketing. Not the only one, but an important one. As I have said before, a book cover is packaging, just as is the label on a can of peas. To take just one example, a book's cover can be used in a great many different ways in the promotion process, from posters and postcards to accompanying reviews in newspapers and magazines. A traditional publisher for whom I did a book two years ago used its cover in all of its advertising and there was never a review that didn't also include the cover. And for about a year and a half the book sold roughly 20 copies a day. I won't attribute that to the cover alone---that would be silly---but the cover was certainly an important, and effective, part of the book's promotion and advertising.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • potetjppotetjp Professor Professor
    I thought my entertaining books would sell well - they don't. I was convinced my didactic books wouldn't sell - they do.  
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher Teacher
    potetjp said:
    I thought my entertaining books would sell well - they don't. I was convinced my didactic books wouldn't sell - they do.  
    A wise man once said, "Write what you know."
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    How would one know it's only word of mouth selling one's books? A long time ago a friend said to me, "I think only half of my marketing works, but I am not sure which half."
     But Ron is correct, the ball has to be set rolling somehow. When or if a writer is eventually famous it could be just a person's name that sells their books and their own sites and fan sites.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    Another wise man said, "find out what you need to know."  :)
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    Here is one of the many sites that advise on marketing a book.   https://www.wikihow.com/Market-a-Book
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    On a similar subject. I was talking to a lady trying to sell art at a 'Makers' fair. Her art was not brilliant, but it was art (all elephants though!) However it was all framed A4 prints off her home printer. She'd had them priced up at £20 each. After standing there all day she had not sold a one. I noticed, because it was easy to spot, and pointed out to her that she had not signed them, and they were not marked '1 of 50' (or better still '12 of 50', make it seem people buy them!) "Sign them?!" she said, you think I should?" "Err, well yes, and give people reason to think they may be collectable, if not right now, but in the future. She was a bit aghast when I said once you have sold 50 of each, do NOT print anymore of it!"  Also, do have a bit of variety. Try drawing dogs and cats as well, people love those."

    Apparently she'd been crafting stuff for 40 years, and hardly sold anything. She showed me pics of pot penguins she once made. They weren't bad at all. "Did you sign them on the base and also say Hand Crafted?" I asked. "No, you think I should have?" She pondered.

    She also told me some 'real store' art retailer once stocked some of her art, and yet if she searches for her name on line, it does not  come up. I think she was expecting the retailer to mass market her wares on line, not in anyway promote her self, even by just signing things.

    So what's the moral of the story? She really had no idea what it was.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    Here is one of the many sites that advise on marketing a book.   https://www.wikihow.com/Market-a-Book


    Good link! And it's well worth pointing out that many of the suggestions for marketing are made infinitely easier if the book has a cover---and by that, I mean something beyond a plain wrapper with the title on it. Something that will not only be attractive but memorable.

    To take just a couple of examples:

    "Give away printed and physical materials (postcards, bookmarks, posters, business cards) to put your name out there. Leave a stack of these at the cash register counter of a nearby bookstore and watch your book sales pile up. Also, use these as handouts at your next book-signing event, or give them out to family, friends and colleagues. It is said that it takes 10 attempts for someone to recognize a name or brand."

    "Advertise your book on a personal website."

    "Consider buying targeted ads online though Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or Google AdSense." Ads are a lot more effective if you have a product that can be illustrated.

    "Write up a short, succinct press release and send it to local newspapers and magazines." A copy of the book cover accompanying such an announcement makes it much more effective.

    "Ask other authors, blogs you follow, and newspapers to review your book." If someone wants to review your book, the first thing you will be asked will be for a copy of the cover to go along with the review.

    This link suggests many other ways in which a cover is an important part of a book's marketing, beyond point of sale.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius Lulu Genius
    Good link! And it's well worth pointing out that many of the suggestions for marketing are made infinitely easier if the book has a cover---and by that, I mean something beyond a plain wrapper with the title on it. Something that will not only be attractive but memorable.

    It's somewhat peculiar that recently a number of books have been appearing in in your face display racks in almost all bricks & mortar stores that sell them, such as supermarkets etc., that have plain yellow covers with just text on. A few different titles in fact. 
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor Professor
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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