Book Sales Success Secret #2: Build a Brand with YOU at the Center
Have you published a book and waited for the sales to roll in, only to slowly realize the only people who were buying it were your friends and family? Are you ready to start promoting your book, but you don’t know where to start? Are you afraid of hitting that Post button and putting yourself out there?
Whether you have yet to sell a single copy or you’ve hit a plateau and aren’t sure how to increase your book sales, you’re in the right place. In part 2 of the Book Sales Success Secrets series, Coach Tam shares from personal experience what not to do if you want to sell books – and what actually works to successfully build a brand with the author at the center.
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- Coach Tam’s personal story of launching a book and then realizing it wasn’t selling – and what was missing
- How and why to build a brand with yourself as the face
- What to do if you find yourself hesitating to post your content
- Ideas for different ways to promote your brand
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important links and information!
When it comes to promoting your book, who is the face of your campaign? Is it you – the author – your publicist, or your Amazon ad? This is an important question to ask yourself, because for your book to sell successfully, you’ve got to set yourself up with the most impactful book promotion path.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been promoting your book for a while, it’s time to examine your promotion strategy and ask yourself what changes need to be made. It’s time to build a brand.
The Book Launch Fantasy
Before we get into the advice on how to successfully build a brand, let me take you back to a few years ago, before I really knew what I was getting myself into. Back then, I had this image in my head of what I thought I had to do to be successful.
You see, no one really told me what it would take to make things happen. So there I was with my book published and feeling all proud. I thought to myself, “Tam, you did it! Now just watch the sales roll in.”
I fantasized all the time about the impact that my book would make and the lives that would be changed. I can remember being in the airport and talking with my mom about how excited I was that my book was going to be released, and I was fantasizing about how many people would tell me how their lives had been positively impacted by what they read.
But the truth looked very different. A day went by, then a week, then a month, then three months. I started to get in my feelings, because I had very little to show for my efforts outside of what I refer to as “support sales” from family and friends. You know – the sales that come through in the very beginning of your book launch, because everyone is proud of you and wants to support you and see you win.
That’s when it hit me: support sales would not be enough to sustain me. And truthfully, while it was amazing for family and friends to show their support, they weren’t the audience that I was called to reach.
So I realized that something had to be missing. There was something more to selling books than I knew.
Build a Brand that Revolves Around You
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with some amazing mentors in my life. They helped me realize that I was indeed missing something – something big. I needed a real marketing strategy. I needed to build a brand. But what really opened my eyes was when my mentor told me that I was the brand.
Now, make no mistake about it, there are some businesses that can be extremely successful without you being the center. A lot of e-commerce businesses work that way. For example, if it’s a car dealership, what matters is the brand of car that’s being sold and the reputation of that brand. So if you can get that right, and also get the right location and sales people, you can be successful, and it’s not so much about who owns the dealership.
But when we’re talking about writing books that impact people’s lives – whether it’s nonfiction that challenges them to learn and grow, or if it’s fiction, where they’re being entertained and getting an escape – in the book space, the entire book platform actually revolves around the author.
I had never really processed that. And as I talk to people across the globe, I’ve realized that I am not the only one who struggled there. I thought that people would buy my book simply because it was a good book, because it was out on Amazon, or because it can be found on Barnes and Noble. I thought, initially, that would be enough.
But my mentor helped me see that I was ultimately responsible for ensuring that the message got out. I had to be clear on the impact that I wanted to make with my message, and I had to communicate that to my audience. So I needed to get more exposure, and I had to do it in a way that built trust.
Too Familiar with the Delete Button?
Now that I knew I needed to put myself and my message out there, the lightbulb started going off. Looking at the resources I had available, my big idea was to get on social media, because that was sure to get me in front of more people.
Have you had that thought before? “Okay, got it. I need to get more eyeballs on my book, so I’m just going to get out there on social media.” That was my plan. That’s how I was going to let my audience know about the book. And that’s how I was going to build a brand with that “know, like, trust” factor that I had heard so much about from my mentor.
It all sounded really simple in my head. I’d just share my God-given message, and I was going to watch the likes and the positive comments – and eventually the sales – flood in.
There was just one problem. A pretty big problem. I couldn’t even get up the nerve to hit the Post button. I was too caught up in making sure that I had the right thing to say, that my background was perfect, that my outfit was on point. And that’s not to say those things aren’t important! But I was going through a period where nothing was good enough, and so everything I put out there didn’t meet my standard of perfection.
As a result, hitting that Delete button became way too easy for me. When a post did actually make it past the chopping block, I was way too focused on the wrong things. Things like how many likes I got and how many comments were made. Now, again, those things are relevant. From a marketing perspective, those are things we should be paying attention to.
But in focusing on all those things, I completely lost sight of the main point of doing all this in the first place: building brand trust so I could get my book into more hands.
What’s Stopping You?
Long story short, I reached my breaking point of not getting the results that I needed to see, and I finally realized I had to stop sabotaging what God had put in me to do. I had to step into my faith a little harder, realizing that God didn’t bring me that far to only bring me that far. So I couldn’t allow myself to be stopped by a simple Facebook post or a live video.
When I realized this, I made some commitments:
- I would go live once a week.
- I would put at least three content posts out there, no matter how I felt about them.
I removed my feelings from the equation, because my feelings were actually setting me up for failure, and I made the decision that I was going to put myself out there.
So, why am I telling you this story? Because Book Sales Success Secret #2 is to become the face of your brand. In other words, to build a brand that completely revolves around you – the author.
Now, almost everyone has heard the expression “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And, turns out, that’s especially true in the world of publishing. To sell books, you need to connect with readers and book buyers. And you can’t do that by solely relying on a publicist, a marketer, or media ads. Yes, these things have their place and value, but YOU must play an active role in building a personal relationship with your audience. It’s essential to your success as an author.
Be Responsible for Your Message
Here’s your challenge today: stop hiding behind your publicists and the ad budget you don’t have, get out there, and become the face of your book and your brand. After all, you are the person that was entrusted with the message. You are ultimately responsible and accountable for ensuring that message gets to the right people. So you can no longer allow the fear of being judged, the fear of failure, or even the lack of funds to stop you.
When you feel you are called to do something great, the fulfillment of that calling isn’t just on God to make it happen. Scripture contains countless examples reminding us that we have a part to play in our deliverance. We are partners with God, so our choices matter just as much as our prayers.
Now, becoming the face of your book’s brand doesn’t have to look the same for you as it looks for other people. There are many ways to accomplish this. Personally, I started out really focusing on social media. It’s easily accessible, and it’s a way to connect with people, share thoughts, post relevant articles, and start discussions. But social media doesn’t have to be your answer. Your answer could also be:
- Writing guest posts for other blogs, and including a link back to your site.
- Creating infographics or videos that talk about your book’s message and your mission.
- Hosting webinars or live Q&A sessions to answer questions and connect with potential readers.
- Attending conferences and networking events in your industry.
- Hosting your own podcast, or being a guest on someone else’s podcast.
It doesn’t matter which one you choose – just make a choice. What kind of choices are you willing to make to see your book sales, your brand, and your business grow? Are you going to protect your ego and stay in your comfort zone? Or are you going to get out there and spread your message?
Are You Ready?
Now, more than ever, it’s easier to connect with potential customers and fans. Think about all the tools we have available to us – literally by picking up our phone – that don’t cost us a cent.
Of course, you do need to make sure that you have first dialed in Success Secret #1 of knowing your target audience, so you know where to put that content you choose to put out. But still, it’s never been easier.
Back in the day, you would have had to spend thousands of dollars to get an ad in a newspaper, run a spot on the radio, or get something on TV. But today, you have the power. There’s no need to wait for someone else to give you permission or to give you a chance – you have the power to make it happen yourself, if you will commit to being proactive, rather than being reactive.
Are you putting yourself and your book out there in a way that you can control?
Remember: you are the most important part of your book’s marketing. You are the one who must be out there promoting your work and building connections with readers. Sure, there are different people who can come alongside you. We at 265 Point offer done-for-you marketing. But that doesn’t mean the author is out of the equation. As the author, you are the one who builds the connection with the readers. You are the face of your book’s brand.
Are you ready to become the ambassador for your own work – not in a way that puts you on a pedestal, but in a way that glorifies God? If so, join us in the Christian Authors Network, and let us know how we can support you in that commitment. Then come back here next week for Book Sales Success Secret #3!
My name is Tamara “Coach Tam” Jackson and I am a published author, Facebook© Certified Digital Marketer, host of the Top 100 Publishing Secrets podcast, and founder of The Christian Authors Network (C.A.N.) Facebook© community. I specialize in helping mission-driven authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs increase their exposure, impact, and income through strategic self-publishing and digital media appearances. Just say yes and we will work together to attract a tribe of loyal followers that 1) “get you”, 2) love what you do, and 3) are happy to invest in your book, business, cause, or movement. Plus, we will accomplish all of this without fake, salesy, sleazy, or manipulative tactics. Yes you CAN write, publish, and profit in a way that honors God; join the community today at https://christianauthors.net/fbgroup.
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