If you want to write a bestselling book, or even a better than average selling book, these seven strategies that I learned along the way can make a significant difference in your results, success and overall reach when it comes time to sell the book.
I once heard New York Times Bestselling Author (and a mentor of mine) say that 95% of authors never sell more than 200 copies of their book. That's a shame, in my opinion, because writing a book requires a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort.
As a first time author, I have not made any bestseller lists yet, but I wanted to share my plan with you as it helped me to get through the creative process quickly and with fewer headaches.
Step #1 - Have a SOLID Outline
While writing your book, especially a non-fiction book, it's important to hold a clear picture in your head of the results you want your book to produce for your readers. Without a clear objective, you will find yourself stuck in the writing process for much longer than necessary.
After I came up with the idea for my own book, I stayed stuck for many, many years before I was able to dive into the writing portion of the project. There was a time when I thought that I may never get this project finished.
The thing that made all the difference for me was having an outline of my book that broke down each part. Once I saw all of the pieces laid out in a start-to-finish format, I was able to take my outline and map out exactly what I wanted to have happen inside of my book.
Naturally, the outline changed as the book progressed, which allowed me to gain even more clarity around the book's message, but the act of starting with the outline inspired me to take creative action on a regular basis and not stay stuck.
Step #2 - Know Your Objective
In my work with authors, one of the key areas we focus on are the objectives for the completed book. Unfortunately, some authors write their book, complete their project but then have no one to market the book to -- no list, no social media presence and no end-game in sight. This is a recipe for disaster and a surefire way to ensure that not many books will be sold.
When I work with clients on their objectives, we choose them carefully and ensure that they are measurable. When we can measure the results of our efforts, we can easily identify which of the strategies were helpful and which weren't.
Writing a book is an extremely creative process and it's incredibly easy to get caught up in the creativity without thinking about how the book ties into your business strategy. When you set objectives before you begin, you will write your book from a much more strategic place and be set up to hit your goals.
When I was in the book writing process for my own book, Pilot To Profit: Navigating Modern Entrepreneurship to Build Your Business Using Online Marketing, Social Media, Content Marketing and Sales, I set the following measurable objectives:
- See my book rise to bestseller status so I could build credibility as an author
- Build my list by offering resources and tools inside of the book that people can download
- Acquire new clients through online programs and coaching
If I wanted to extrapolate out even further, I could create super specific objectives by adding qualitative and quantitative measurements. For example, I could add that I wanted to become an Amazon bestselling author in five different countries. Or, add 5,000 names to my e-mail marketing list and acquire $100,000 in new business revenue from the people who came to my business by way of the book.
When you crystallize your objectives, the book writing process becomes so much more intentional. You can think more strategically about how to get to where you want to go in your business and how you can ultimately serve your audience in the best way possible.
Step #3 - Hire Support
When you write your first book, you will naturally bounce up against resistance and analysis paralysis. The best way to ensure that you continuously move forward is to hire a team that can help with your mindset and marketing as well as provide you with guidance on the overall architecture of your book.
During my book writing process, I hired a book coach to help guide me. I also hired a photographer to capture the perfect photo (side note: I had to hire four photographers to get the exact look I wanted!), an editor and a bestselling author to share her book success strategies with me.
Writing a book is a challenging project to take on and it's made even harder when you go it alone. I tried to write my book for years and the only way that I was able to gain momentum was to hire a team of skilled professionals to help me do it.
Now that I'm on the other side of writing my first book, I don't think I will need as much help when I write my second. However, if I find myself feeling stalled in the process, I will absolutely put the proper team in place as I realize now how vital it is to the project.
Step #4 - Decide on the Publishing Route You Wish to Take
When it comes to publishing, the options are endless. You can write a book proposal and go the traditional publishing route or you can self-publish or you can hire a hybrid publisher, like I did, to work in partnership with you.
The publisher that I went with is Morgan James. They only publish 150 books a year and they've worked with some incredible authors such as Brendon Burchard, Jeff Walker, Melonie Dodaro and Kim Garst. When you partner with Morgan James, they do the heavy-lifting to help you get distribution, they do the cover design and get your ISBN. For me, going this route was absolutely worthwhile.
When thinking about which method you'd like to use, think about what's important to you. If you want to move quickly on the project, you may want to consider self-publishing or going with a hybrid publisher. If you are less concerned with the timeline and more invested in the credibility that comes with some of the big-name publishers, you can go that route instead.
Step #5 - Get a Great Photo
As I mentioned in the support section, I worked with four different photographers to get the right photo for my book cover. This wasn't an inexpensive undertaking but at the end of the day, if your face is on the cover of your book, you need to love the photo. If you don't, you'll hate selling your book.
Many first-time authors are advised to NOT put their photo on the cover of their book. Reid Tracy, of Hay House Publishing, has been quoted saying that you shouldn't put your face on your book cover unless you are famous. For my own book, I chose to put my photo on the cover due to my social media presence. I felt that my personal brand was so strong that not leveraging that for the book may actually hinder sales.
When you are thinking about your own book cover, and the use of your photo, base it off of your gut feeling. If you are your brand, market that as book titles come and go but your personal brand is, and will be, timeless.
Step #6 - Work Through Resistance
One of my favourite books to recommend to creatives is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This book is incredibly eye-opening and centers around the idea of resistance. After you read it, you will quickly realize that most authors face resistance when writing and that their book is never truly done.
The truth is: you will likely find yourself in a position, after you've submitted your final manuscript, where you wish that you could still be editing the content or adding new material. You may stumble across a really good piece of advice and wish you had written that into your book. You may bump up against self-doubt around some of the things you said.
Writing a book brings up an enormous amount of resistance and, if you suffer from any type of perfectionism, it can be incredibly difficult to get through.
This is where a book coach can be a big help. Your coach can guide you, encourage you and help you to understand that what you are feeling is completely normal. Try to find a coach that you like, and trust, so that when they are explaining these things to you, you know they are telling you the truth. In my own experience, I felt like my coach was pandering to me when she said my book was good -- I didn't feel the same way.
Step #7 - Have a Stellar Marketing Plan
If you take anything away from this article, let it be this: your publisher is a publisher, not a marketer. It is your job, as the author, to market and sell your book and if you don't have a plan, you are setting yourself up to fail.
Your marketing plan should help you strategize the best ways to sell your book. Your strategy needs to take into account the launch, so you can try to be a bestseller, but also how you plan on selling your book on an on-going basis. Writing and selling your book is not a one-time activity -- you need to keep marketing and selling until there is no one left to buy your book.
That said, marketing your book doesn't start the day it's ready to launch -- it starts well beforehand. Your book marketing strategy should incorporate ideas on how to build and engage your audience before the book is ready for purchase. Strategies such as list building, speaking and growing your social media presence.
If you are a first-time author and you are not comfortable selling, you should consider some type of business coach that understands sales and marketing. This way, you can get support with the part of the project you don't enjoy and focus instead on what you love to do. Letting sales fall to the wayside, because you don't enjoy selling, would be tragic as the hard work and effort you poured into the book will not generate you the same return as it could with marketing.
Once I had my book in hand, I wanted to jump directly into sales mode because that's what I do. However, jumping in could hinder my primary objective, which is to become a bestselling author so, I had to press pause. Being a bestseller comes from having a large volume of sales in a short period of time so I knew that getting ahead of myself would make that harder to achieve.
I'd Love to Hear From You
If you are taking on the project of writing a book, what questions do you have for me about the process? I'd love to hear from you about the parts that are a bit overwhelming. Leave me a question in the comments below and I'll try my best to answer as many as I can.
Also, if you'd like to know when my own book is available for purchase, be sure to add your name to the list right here: www.lisalarter.com/advancecopy.
Finally, here's to bestselling books and zero resistance in the creative process!