How to Wrap Your Mind around Selling Books Without Warping It

A Marketing Paradigm

By Jo Sparkes –B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

jo-sparkes-book-bragBeing an indie author means freedom to explore, try new things. It means being uncoupled from editor notes and publisher calendars.

It also means book sales are your responsibility.

So I developed – in the school of hard knocks – my own grasp of marketing. It’s remarkably naïve, possibly dim-witted. But it does keep me focused on the forest after tripping over tree roots.

First, I learned to drop any emotions that the word ‘marketing’ stirs. Fears of rejection, failure, and that evil nemesis self-doubt. Honestly, they’re useless here. So if any of these worries sneak up on you, just think of all the truly awful stuff shamelessly hawked at us every day. You know what I mean. Rondo knives, vaginal douches. Superman versus Batman.

Now, with emotions gone, let’s define this marketing thing as a three step process. Our goal: tons of people rush to buy our book, avidly read it and then race to tell everyone how wonderful it was. The word of mouth is so powerful that nothing else matters.

Sweet, huh?

Achieving this nirvana depends on three things. Let’s continue working backwards – which ought to warn you about my circular reasoning.

Step Three: Word of your book needs to get out. People must know it exists – and the more people the better. You audience has to find your book.

The good news is while gatekeepers may still hold keys, there are ever-widening gaps in the fence. Advertising, social media, reviewer blogs, book awards. I won’t go into all the particulars; there are many who already have, and far better than I could.

However your audience finds your work, they must be moved to read it.

Step Two, then, is pairing an enthralling description with an eye-riveting cover. You’re trying to get folks to click on your book – to pick it up, in bookstore terms. Does the cover entice them – even in its icon form? Does the teaser tantalize – so they can’t resist trying a sample, perchance to buy? Or do their eyes wander on to ‘similar books’ below?

Assuming the former, there’s one last tiny consideration.

Step One, the one I personally believe most important, is when they do read it, they like it. Otherwise that word of mouth stuff won’t work quite the way you pictured.

The great thing in all this: it’s an iterative process. Give yourself permission to play with it.

If the book is up on Amazon and no one’s buying it, run an ad. If a reviewer says it had no romance, check that the cover on your thriller doesn’t suggest a bodice ripper. Try sitting with a friend and bring up the page displaying your book beside others in the genre. Which one would you click on?

Performance tune. Rewrite the description, find a few reviewers. You can even change the cover – there’s no continuity police. Ask your social media friends for feedback and advice, or buy that David Gaughran book, “Let’s Get Visible.”

Refuse to let one bad review bother you, but be open to improving your craft if five reviews mention similar concerns. Try this, toy with that. And remember: everything takes time. If you keep working at your marketing, it will improve.

And whatever else, for heaven’s sake: write that next book.

Jo’s website

B.R.A.G. Interview with Jo here

The comments, advice and opinions expressed here are those of authors whose books have been honored with a B.R.A.G. Medallion. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners, management, or employees of indieBRAG, LLC.

4 responses to “How to Wrap Your Mind around Selling Books Without Warping It”

  1. T.K. Thorne says:

    And a beautiful cover it is!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are right on!

  2. Jo Sparkes says:

    T.K. – thank you 🙂 Really appreciate that!

    I can say the same about your beautiful book, ‘Angels at the Gate’!

  3. John Northern says:

    i have found that most of the purchases that i have received have been linked to give aways. Not that i mind but it goes back to the fact that people like something 4 nothing. Also I am struggling as I have not received any reviews!! Of any kind! Twitter account is healthy and writing is progressing, so i am at a loss??

  4. Jo Sparkes says:

    Try submitting your book to a few reviewers in your genre with blogs. You can also trade reviews on Goodreads – keeping in mind these are honest reviews.

    Don’t give up! Write that next book.

    You’ll find your way.

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