“Every message that is trying to persuade, sell, or seduce needs to answer one of the four fundamental needs questions people ask before choosing any product or service:
· What is it?
· Why do I need it now?
· What makes it different from other things?
· Who else thinks it’s good?
--Seducing Strangers: How to Get People to Buy What You’re Selling by Josh Weltman
Authors, in order to sell a book, will need to convince others they need or want what they are offering. Pretty simple when you think about it. So why is it so hard?
As you can see from Weltman’s quote above, the former co-producer of Mad Men tells us that an advertisement, must answer four fundamental questions. This is true, whether you are selling airplane tickets, a toy, a snack, or a dress. Or a book.
The first question: “What is it?” Well, easy enough, it’s a book. Is it just that – or something more? Aha, it is how we describe that book that makes all of the difference. As you state its features, say them as benefits. In the end, people want to know what is unique, different, or new about your book. What is it about and how will that book convey its message to me? The answer to what it is depends on what readers are looking for or want it to be.
There is no reason to sell a feature that, as great as it is, does not interest people. The converse is true, too. Highlighting a simple or obvious feature may be what people need to hear, therefore you must hype that part up. The book is what people believe it is, not in fact what it is. It will be different things to different people. Target the biggest pool of potential readers and angle everything towards their needs, interests, and lifestyles.
Next, “Why do I need it now?” Why wait? Why put off something amazing? Now is the time to act on what you need. Today is the day you pursue your passion. Find out what others will soon know. Buy now because it is new, valuable, and special. Buy now and enjoy life. Want things to be easier, better, productive? Buy this book – now!
“What makes it different from other things?” This is a three-part question. First, answer why this book vs. another book. Second, why this book vs. other content sources, some of which are free? Third, why buy a book when you can buy a toy, booze, a shirt, or any other thing that your limited budget could be used for?
Buying a book is still one of the least expensive pleasures one can consume – and you can read it more than once and then gift it to another. Books are comprehensive, well-researched, well-edited resources of fantasies, experiences, opinions, facts, ideas, and histories, unlike other unproven sources circulating out there.
As to why your book vs. another, one need only generally dismiss the competition. No reason to name another book. All that you have to do is find an emotional or intellectual connection with your potential reader and they suddenly will not see any other book but yours. Like a soul mate, you offer a book mate, even though we all know there is more than one person we could marry and there is more than one book that we can read and enjoy.
“Who else thinks it is good?” Find testimonials from anyone with authority, name-recognition, or relevant expertise. Quote a best-selling author, celebrity, business executive, major non-profit, professor, or whomever offers credibility. Then get some media exposure or book reviews and quote them as third-party validation for your work.
As the author, you are biased. You love your book and think others are fools for not trying or enjoying it. Still, you need to think like the consumer, the one with many choices, cluttered minds, tight wallets, and a disadvantage of not knowing anything about you or your book other than what you tell them. Address the four fundamental questions and more often than not you will be in a better position to sell your book.
Read, Read, Read!!
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the product of his genius. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.