Today, we are fortunate indeed to have a post by Nancy Robinson Masters,. She is the author of more than 40 books, including some self-published books that have sold more than 100,000 copies. And, the President of the United States has called her directly to ask a favor. Why? Because he had read some of her books. Here is what Nancy has to say about book Marketing.
Book Marketing 101: The Customer is Always Why You Write!
“Who is going to buy this book?”
When I teach writing/publishing/marketing workshops, I have to keep reminding participants that it is the most important question every author must be able to answer when preparing a book proposal to present to an editor or publisher. Not “What is your book about?” or “Why did you write this book?”
Who is going to buy this book?
It’s an even more important question if you plan to self-publish.
In either case if your answer contains the words “family, friends, and/or co-workers,” brace yourself. You are in for a rude awakening. Let me spare you from having to learn three painful lessons I learned the hard way more than 150,000 sales and 20-something years ago:
Painful Lesson Number One:
Family members won’t buy your book. They will expect you to give them a copy. Remember, you’re just the girl/guy they’ve known since you were in diapers. Or you married into the family, which means you aren’t really family at all, so no obligation there. Of course dear old Aunt Gladys will purchase a copy, maybe even two, so she’ll have an extra one to use as a door prize when it’s her turn to be the garden club hostess. And benevolent Uncle Feemster will pretend to be delighted and whisper “keep the change” when he hands you a twenty. But don’t count on your kinfolks to buy your book. It isn’t going to happen unless your last name rhymes with spaghetti and your godfather rides around in the back seat of a black limo.
Painful Lesson Number Two:
Friends won’t buy your book. They will expect you to give them a copy. After all, you’re just another soccer mom/golfingbuddy/SundaySchoolClass member who picks up your kids, plays on your team, or prays with you each week. What kind of friend are you to expect them to buy your book? Of course there will be those who will throw an autograph party for you and a couple dozen of the 300 names you gave them to invite will show up.
A few will buy a copy to soothe their guilt of grazing the goodie table. But don’t count on your friends to buy your book. It isn’t going to happen unless they are thanked in the forward or quoted on the back cover.
Painful Lesson Number Three:
Co-workers? Get real. Co-workers won’t buy your book because they don’t take you seriously. Besides, they don’t make enough money to buy books written by someone who works the same place they do. They know if you were a real author, you wouldn’t be working for the same miserable boss they’re working for. You’d be living in New York City, going on book tours, and bragging about your agent negotiating the movie rights. Of course there will be those sympathetic co-workers who will buy a copy just so they can tell their friends they work with the author. But don’t count on your co-workers to buy your book. They’ll wait to see the movie.
So who does that leave to buy your book? Easy.
People you don’t know, who don’t know you, who are willing to spend their money to own your words. They are the ones who will keep you motivated when you want to quit. They are the ones for whom you must burn the midnight oil. You owe it to them to do the very best writing you can possibly do because they are not your family, not your friends, not even your co-workers. They are your customers and they are willing to spend their time and money to consume the product you produce.
If you want to sell books, remember that the customer is always why you write.
NANCY ROBINSON MASTERS has been selling what she writes for more than 30 years. She is the author of more than 40 books, including self-published books that have sold more than 100,000 copies in print and ebook format. (Extraordinary Patriots of Colonial America, All My Downs Have Been Ups, The Horrible Homemade Halloween Costume, and The Fabulous Flying Flag Farm.) Nancy is a licensed pilot and lives on a private airport with her husband, Master Aviator Bill Masters, near Abilene, Texas. She is a popular motivational speaker and workshop presenter, whose exciting Visiting Author programs for students have taken her around the world, including traveling with the National Science Foundation to Antarctica.