Hey Guys! Nicole here!
I was just helping out a book design client by getting him set up with a website designer.
I had so many things to say when he made the request but, as you will see here in a minute, it’s a larger discussion… so I took it to a podcast.
When most authors finish a book the next logical step is to begin to sell it. This reminds me of the days when I was first out of college and I began one of my first jobs selling Cutco cutlery…remember those days? (The birth of network marketing companies) One of the things they taught us as new sales people was to say this statement after we presented our fab cutlery…”I would not being doing my job if I didn’t ask you this question…” they taught us to ask for the sale. They said it’s great to do a wonderful presentation, but if you never ask for the sale you may never get it.
Why does this remind me of this time?
Well…many years later I realized what a great model it was…in so many ways…the whole network marketing thing. You may or may not stick with it, but you have to invest in a certain number of your own supplies to get started, then you go out and sell all your family and friends. If you never make it beyond this point, the company has still made thousands on you.
In many ways the book publishing industry can take advantage of its authors. Every supplier and vendor can make thousands on you as an author… investing to make your book a reality. And, then, there you are holding your book in your hands after a few sales to family, friends, and coworkers. Now what?
So, it all begins with the book. Now you have the book and you’ve already invested in the coach, the editor, the designer, and the printing. Next up is sales and marketing. This is the point where reality hits you. You have to figure out how to sell and distribute your book. This will be the likely first place you realize the size of your audience, supporters, and what your platform looks like…that’s if you even have one.
So, first let’s talk about the website. You were told by your coach that you should buy the name of your book URL. Done! You’ve perhaps thought of buying your name URL. If not, you should. But, now is the point of integration and/or presentation.
When I first began as an author I did what my coach said and I bought my book title URL. I built a website and sold my first books there. A simple model. I then went to amazon and figured out how to create a sellers account and listed and sold my books there. Now, of course I paid them a cut for the few books I sold. Then along came my second book. My simple website for my first book worked for only my first book. I figured people would still go there to buy my first book so I bought another book title URL for my second book. I sold those books there. But, then I wrote my third book and did the same. A new problem was presenting itself. Actually several problems.
First, my simple website with my simple PayPal payment would only sell one book on each website. Second, I now had three websites. I began to integrate them into one and figured my name URL was the place to do that. But now I had a whole new set of problems. I had three books but my simple PayPal account wouldn’t add additional shipping for multiple books. It also wouldn’t calculate shipping for my now growing global audience. I was loosing money shipping to Canada and Europe. I had to invest in a new way to sell my books that was a real shopping website. So, I bought a new web tool and began creating. I still have all these websites today. I guess you can say that I kept them for an experiment. After all the time writing and building websites I would next also set up global distribution. And then began my next problem that had me literally sobbing on the floor for days!!
Because my audience had grown globally with my third book, I had to figure out how to get it to my buyers affordably. It was literally costing more than the price of the book to ship it. So, I set up global distribution thinking it would be easier for my readers. Well, it was, but now all of my own sales channels were competing against me! What?
Let me tell you how this looked… So I had all of my books priced at $24.95. At first my distributor was also selling them for $24.95. But then a combination of things happened. First, my books were now popping up as used. I could find my book for sale from online bookstores selling via amazon and they were selling it for a mere $9.95. I even considered buying them myself. I couldn’t even re-print them for that cheap! Next problem, my distributor had set up my books for prime on amazon and they were shipping for free. I was charging $7 per book. I thought this was no big deal…I will send mine signed from the author with special gifts…special gifts that increase the cost per book. I figured this was fine because it builds a relationship with my reader. But, readers don’t know that you are doing this special gift. And in fact, they might not even value it. I made special bookmarks and enhanced packaging. But, now the part that had me in tears…
So there I am selling my books for $24.95 on my website with my $7 shipping and I go to amazon to punch in my book to view the current ranking. I see my book is selling for $6.95! What? Again, I can’t even print it for that cheap! My books are all the highest of quality…color inserts, colored end sheets, thick bright white paper, etc. They have all the bells and whistles because, of course, they have to. I do this for a living and my books are showcasing my services as a designer. But, after I gasped, I cried! I began to feel like perhaps many artist do…ripped off!
When you hear about recording artists loosing income because their music is pirated I’d say this is much the same fight. Remember the days of Napster? Well, of course, this same thing happens with books…eBooks in particular. One purchased eBook is now shared for free over and over and there are a variety of websites doing this. So, every artist, writer of books, or musician has to find another way to make an income. The musician does a concert, the artist paints a custom piece, a writer… hmmm… we must speak, coach, teach, train…anything that our book gives us credit for.
There is a cost of doing business. For a writer it is the cost of distribution. Wherever our books are sold is where we loose control of our rights.
So, for my client creating the website…as soon as he’s sold books to family and friends he will likely get his book up for distribution shortly thereafter and at this stage is when he will need to prepare to do that thing that is his platform. He will not likely see a return on his investment selling books. It's unfortunate because there is so much work invested at this point. He will have to work a long time at selling books to return his investment. But, one class, one client, one event, one booked speaking gig and he’s flush again. Book sales…kinda sad, don’t you think?
Of course, I’ve shared this before, but I’ll share it again…if you aren’t selling through a distribution network you won’t get credit for books sold. But, if you listened to my previous podcast, you will realize tracking book sales for best-seller status isn’t generally something to worry about, since every bestseller list is a lie and a self-published author doesn’t generally make this list anyhow. As a self-published author, you will only know how many books you’ve sold by tracking the number you have printed so just keep an eye on that.
So, the best advice for getting up and selling your book? Secure the URL of the book’s name and maybe just put a picture of the book and a link to your name URL. Your name becomes your brand and everything on your website is another tool of what you offer…your book included. Get a web designer that can help you with a basic website just to create a presence. But, don’t worry too much about your book title website. Just secure the URL, but build on a main website that showcases who you are, not just the author of a book. Build, and keep building, your platform. This is a life-long thing, so keep adding to your brand of you. Showcase all the things that you do for an income. If writing is your bag then list your books and sell yourself as an author. Otherwise, showcase your niche. What does your book make you an expert of? Myself, I have only built out my Lets Get Your Book Published website because I can put everything I do under one umbrella—book design and layout, book coaching, ebook conversion, book marketing, my online book publishing program, coaching for book publishing clients, etc. Got it? Lots more here to dive into in future podcasts I’m sure.
So, since it’s fathers day…I wanted to circle back around to how we began this podcast…the idea of asking for the sale…Ironically I called and talked to my dad to wish him happy fathers day. He’s been a pretty successful entrepreneur his whole life. He always asks how business is going. It’s always been our thing. Ive always enjoyed sharing all my business adventures with him. In his mid 70’s now, he can listen to me blabbing on about my highs, lows, and woes…he lets me go on for awhile…then he calmly asserts whatever is my current dilemma. Today’s lesson…”Nic, you gotta just ask for the sale.” Ah, the irony…dad’s…you gotta love em’!
Happy Fathers day to all you dads and oh…
Of course, to honor dad (and myself), I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you this question…Do you need a book coach or designer? I’d love to help you understand the in’s and outs of the publishing industry and get you going on your book project!
Enjoy your day! Wishing you peace, love, and light!
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