Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why A Book Sells

Are We Reading The Same Book?

So many authors contact me to seek representation for book promotions. Many are under the false expectation that the media and consumers should love their books once people know about them. There is a huge disconnect between author-consumer. Let’s examine why:

People tend to buy on:

Impulse/Desire – you hit the customer at an opportune time
Perception – customers think your book is going to be good or helpful
Appearance – a cover, a title, a paragraph, a testimonial lures them in
Price – low prices drive some sales
Recommendation – a trusted source tells them to buy it
Brand – the author or something connected to him or her inspires trust
Need – customers need a book just like yours and your book is available

But authors sell on:

Ego – they assume everyone will love/want their book
Knowledge – they know what is in their book and how it compares to others
Ignorance – they don’t know of the competition and fail to acknowledge it
Hope – they simply, if not blindly, believe in themselves and hope for sales
Feedback – they get friends to say they liked it and their head swells
Desperation – the author invested time, money, and dreams into the book so it has to sell
Charity – you believe the book will help people and it is the cure-all

It is the job of the book marketer to service the needs of his or her client. However, it is challenging to assist someone with too much optimism and high expectations – just as it is difficult to help someone who lacks self-esteem.

A healthy way to look at book marketing is that it is a gamble. Great books can still lack PR. Books that get great PR can still lack sales. Mediocre books can get great PR and mediocre PR can sell books. But, the odds are that the better the book, author credentials, and timing, the better the PR will go. And if they get a quantity of quality media placements – coupled with good distribution, a reasonable price and some luck, you will see sales build up.

One key to PR is to present a provocative story angle to the media, one in which the recipient feels implored to explore further. The publicist looks for steps up the ladder. First a pitch gets the interest of a journalists, blogger, or producer, leading them to ask questions or request a copy of the book. Then the publicist wants to follow up to get an idea of what the reporter is seeing and thinking.

The next part is to deliver new angles or supportive material to the first story idea. Finally, you need to close the deal. For this to work, authors must be flexible, savvy, and assertive. They cannot just sit back, like a pretty girl, and expect offers to the prom. They must seek to impress until the journalist sees the book the way the author envisions it.

Once the media buys into your ideas they will carry the ball the rest of the way to the goal line.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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