how to sell booksI love How To articles.

There are millions of them floating around the ether of the internet. Some of my favourites include, ‘How to drink a martini’, ‘How to train your dragon’, ‘How to knit a hat’ and ‘How to get a cold’. Just amazing how many things there are that we just don’t know how to do, but can learn how to in seconds.

But to return to the subject at hand, as a writer, author, general factotum and dreamer, I believe I do know a little about ‘How to sell books’. I mean, that’s what I do; or starve. Rest assured though, I don’t starve, but as most authors will admit, caviar is not often on the menu. So how do I manage to feed myself? By selling books.

Now you may want to make notes from here on in, as I am about to impart all my secret book selling techniques in 5 easy steps. Ready?

How to 1: First make absolutely sure that you have actually written a book. At least one that is long enough to be classed as a book. If you can fit your story on a post-it note, maybe it’s back to the keyboard for you. Also, make sure it has a title. This is really important. Untitled books don’t seem to sell at all well.

How to 2: Be very careful with your spelling. Especially with your own name on the front cover. If you get this wrong, you may find your royalties are heading off to a total stranger. I always think an independent editorial eye is useful for this.

How to 3: Keep your book title under one hundred and fifty words. I know it sounds restrictive, but research has shown that potential readers like a little mystery and intrigue, so don’t give away the whole story in your title. If you really want the tell your potential readers the whole story before they decide to read your book, do it on the back cover.

How to 4: Make sure your story has an end. Not simply a last page. As tempting as it may be to keep your costs of production down as low as possible, the additional pages needed to finish your story are well worthwhile in achieving some customer satisfaction. Again research has shown that incomplete stories in books tend to adversely affect sales, and book reviewers can get a bit nasty about it too.

How to 5: Price your book sensibly. Although tempting to go for a quick killing, your book may not attract a lot of buyers at $69.99. Consider your market and the kind of people who will be likely to want to buy and read your books. If they are fellow authors, forget anything much above free, as the are just as broke as you. But, perhaps if your book offers your potential readers the guarantee of becoming rich in less than seven seconds, you might get a few buyers at $99.99! Then again, if it’s romance and you’re aiming at single parents on a budget, you could try a three for the price of one offer. At the end of the day though, your main aim is to be read, not become a millionaire. If that was what you wanted, then deciding to be a writer was a very bad career move indeed.

Go back to selling insurance.

How To Sell Books
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4 thoughts on “How To Sell Books

  • 22/05/2011 at 11:55 am
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    Splendid article, Derek. I see now where my marketing strategy has gone wrong, and shall ask that they correct my name on the cover forthwith and redirect my royalties to the correct account.

    For some reason while I meant to put "JAClement" it appears to have been printed as "Stephen King" on every single one of my works apart from the ones where it has come out as "Agatha Christie".

    Let's see if we can't get that corrected…
    heheheh
    JAC

  • 22/05/2011 at 12:10 pm
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    JAClement you think you have problems? For some reason only known to a few (very few) literary anoraks, Most of my works are being attributed to Aristotle! :))

  • 22/05/2011 at 12:42 pm
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    And all this time I've been happy to have either J A Clement or Jack Eason on my covers :)

  • 12/10/2011 at 11:49 am
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    Thanks Derek – for a minute I thought you were really going to give us the secret of your success, but I’m having a crummy day at work so thanks for the laugh :-)

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