How authors can develop a business mindset and sell more books

Writing a book is a lot of work. Right from the point of generating the book idea to the process of clarifying your thoughts, writing and rewriting, editing and eventually publishing, the author does not only invest significant amounts of time but also puts in lots of mental effort. The process could even be physically demanding and spiritually draining too. Authors therefore have legitimate expectations of getting good returns on their investments.

But they are often faced with the bigger challenge of pushing their books to the top of the pile or at least making it visible enough to attract the desired attention, interest and ultimately, sales. Getting books sold thus becomes one of the major headaches that most authors grapple with. While this might be more discernible among self-published authors, having a traditional publishing deal hardly improves the situation.

Most publishing houses don't earmark large budgets for book promotion except for famous authors who already have very large followings. And these privileged few contribute only a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of books published every year. That means the rest of us have to handle our book marketing. Many authors are neither equipped nor prepared for this. Their disposition reflects the erroneous belief that a good book will sell itself.

By all means, write a good book. But expecting your book to sell itself simply because it's good is like expecting ripe oranges to fall on your laps simply because you love oranges. It's a false expectation that results from not having a business mindset which is one major mistake that most authors make.

If you're determined to go far as an author you should consider your work as a business, not just something you like doing. Even if you're not looking to make profits from your book sales you should at least have the desire to leverage off the success of your book to achieve other goals. It takes a business mindset to achieve that.

You need a business mindset to succeed as an author. These five tips will get you started. Click To Tweet

Now you're probably asking, "how do I develop a business mindset?" Essentially, it's about thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur in the business of creating value through books. Having gone through this process myself I have identified some practical steps to get started.

1. Define your goals

People write books for various reasons. Some of these include a desire for fame and fortune, urge to share a personal story, spreading an idea, gaining recognition as an expert on a subject, leaving a legacy and connecting with people that might otherwise be out of reach. Why exactly are you writing a book? You need to articulate this clearly as it will determine how you approach every part of the process from writing to publishing and promotion.

2. Research your market

You need to understand the people you are writing for. To make this even more effective, think as if you're writing for just one person. Then go ahead and create a profile of that person. Your profile should describe demographic characteristics like age, location, educational status and psychographic characteristics like interests, values and attitudes. This understanding will guide you to write a book that readers want to read and write it in a way that addresses their concerns.

3. Connect with your readers

Beyond selling books, focus on building a relationship with your readers. Connect with them in the places where they hang out as uncovered by your market research. Participate in relevant groups and forums. Attend events where they converge. One great way to connect with people is to give them something of value for free.

Beyond selling books, successful authors focus on building value-driven relationships with their readers. Click To Tweet

For example you can provide a free download of an abridged version of your book with a call to action that leads to the sales page. Your free offer can take different forms depending on your kind of book and the readers you're trying to reach. The idea is to provide something that will be truly useful for your readers while reinforcing the message of your book.

4. Create a book marketing plan

Without a plan, book marketing can be a cumbersome process that works in fits and starts. Having a plan helps to keep things organised. Your plan should factor in required resources, target audience, desired results, outreach channels and frequency of outreach. For example, what's your budget for running adverts and creating promotional materials like graphics and videos? How do you want to allocate your resources across online and offline channels? Have you considered getting endorsements and book reviews? How will you measure and analyse results? Think through all the touch points and clarify your intentions in a written document.

5. Develop a long term strategy

Adopt a long term perspective and see your book as part of a bigger process, not as an end in itself. Your book marketing should start long before your book is published and continue for the lifetime of the book. The good news is that you can automate a significant part of the process by creating an author platform that allows you to build a long term relationship with your audience.

One very important part of this is building an email list. Once readers subscribe to your email list you can automatically send them a series of personalised messages to warm up the relationship and eventually move them from being just subscribers to becoming true fans. This will make it easier to not only sell more books over the long term but also sell products and services built around your book.

Your book should not be an end in itself. Create products and services around it. You could even start a movement! Click To Tweet

Closing Thoughts

Book marketing certainly requires significant efforts especially for an author who is not coming from a business background. But if you would do the heavylifting required to build a book marketing system that works, you would find that it's one-time investment that continues to pay off for many years, requiring only minimal maintenance and a few tweaks when necessary.

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