How to Sell Books… It Depends on What Kind of Book You’re Selling

Obviously the top question I get from visitors to the How to Sell Books website is “how do I sell my self-publishing book??”

Well the first two questions that I have are: “what kind of book are you trying to sell in the first place? And to whom?” Many new self-publishers don’t really know the answer to those questions.

Not only do many writers fail to explore the basics of the 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, placement and promotion) they also don’t really know their target reader.

  • Is your target reader a housewife looking to make an extra income to support her household?
  • Is she a bored college student who wants something interesting to read in between classes?
  • Is he a social studies teacher who is looking for a way to interest his students?

What is the target reader’s age? Occupation? Interests? How does she buy her books (electronic or print)?

Simply put, the target reader is the person who is most likely to purchase a copy of your book. As I write in my eBook series, “A book buyer is only motivated to purchase a book if it will make him money, make his life easier, educate him on something he was curious about, or make his life more fun and enjoyable.”

Know Your Audience

I have been fairly successful selling my tightly niched novels because I have a very strong idea of who my target reader is for each one. For three years I hit the streets of NYC and sold my novels hand-to-hand.

I got to meet thousands of people who fell right into my target audience back then, so now I know who they are whether I’m tweeting them on Twitter, reading their posts on Amazon or talking to them at book signings. I understand their motivations, interests and how they go about buying books.

eBook or Printed Book?

Another important issue I think is crucial to consider right now (circa 2012 and beyond) is the book format that your target reader will prefer to purchase. I recently read an article that revealed that most people who read novels prefer eBooks (electronic books, mostly on Kindle or iPad devices) while people who read non-fiction titles prefer printed books that they can carry around and mark up for future reference. That is extremely important information for you to keep in mind if you’re trying to sell books.

Do People Really Want Your Book?

I’m quite possibly the last person on earth to discourage someone from writing and selling their own book, but you have to ask yourself: who, if anyone, wants your book?

Some writers make the mistake of writing and publishing books that have virtually no market —no one desires or needs the book. I learned that lesson first-hand when I published a book of photography (my very first self-publishing venture). Talk about bombing.

So if you are serious about succeeding as a self-publisher and selling copies I suggest that you do some personal reflection about your book before you proceed. If you’re having a hard time identifying a target reader, does the book have one? If the answer is “well no, not really” just start a new writing project but this time make sure that you have a clear-cut idea of who is actually going to buy it when it’s finished. Selling books is as much about strategy as it is about the writing or spending money on advertising.

Time to get to work!