Having just put out a book in the last 6 months, I’m learning a few things about writing and marketing your book in general that I thought might be helpful to those that are thinking of doing some writing in the future…
#1 – Every person who bought my book at the book signing I did the other night had heard me speak at some point. There comes a point in time when you build a name and get some momentum and that carries you (Can you say, "Purpose Driven Life"?). However, when you are putting out your first book, people want to know what they’re getting. That means if you want to sell books, you need to get out there and let people get to know you and your style. This is why blogging is so helpful. It allows people to get to know you and your way of thinking.
#2 – Others pick up your book when you reach a "Tipping Point" – This is true for me when it came to buying "The Tipping Point". I had heard Malcolm Gladwell’s name several times, seen his book on several blogs, talked to a few people about it, and when everything was positive, I bought it. The other intangible is that when you see someone listed as one of the keynote speakers at high profile conferences, it adds credibility, even if you’ve never heard them yourself. The thought is, "If they invited him to speak at THAT, he’s got to be good!"
#3 – Still others are drawn to the subject matter despite knowing very little about the author. This is a very small group. If a Pastor wanted to do a series about John the Baptist, he might be more inclined to buy my book, but #1 and #2 would still apply. His interest in the subject would just make him more open to picking up the book once he heard some positive feedback or heard me speak (And hopefully enjoyed it).
#4 – Forwards and endorsements help a little, but not as much as we think – I’m so grateful that my Pastor wrote the forward to my book, but that doesn’t sell many copies. In fact, I’ve never bought a book because of who wrote the forward. I bought it because of #1, #2 and #3. While I think having an influential name write the forward or write a kind endorsement helps, its real strength helps with #2, which is to hear so much good about a book that you have to buy it because if you don’t you feel like you’re missing out. A prime example is Geoff’s Multi-site book that’s coming out. People aren’t going to buy it just because Erwin McManus wrote the forward (Which is awesome, by the way). That just adds to #2. People are going to buy it primarily because #1 – you’ve heard him speak, or like me, you’ve been reading his blog; Or #2 will kick in and everyone will speak kindly of his book and how helpful it is; or #3 – you want to go multi-site and the content of the book drives you to purchase the book.
So the other question for the author is, "Should I shop my manuscript to a publisher or self-publish?"
I’ll answer that in my next post…