By Nicole Loughan
Earlier this year I was standing in front of a six foot tall picture of Jodi Picoult hoisted three stories high in the sky over a conference center in Manhattan. Behind her were banners for Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler and even James Patterson. Below those banners were thousands and thousands of books vying for a chance to catch a buyer’s eye.
I learned that day that today, even the best authors, with instant name recognition and many bestsellers under their belt, have to market. They have to grace giant banners, go on countless interviews, and interact on social media to spread the word for their book to have a chance at good sales.
The reality of the book market today is that there are so many books, self-published, indie-published and traditionally that for a book to stand out it must have a lot going for it. Indies and self-published authors used to compete by price. Where large publishing houses were selling books for over ten dollars in digital format, indie authors could price their work at $2.99 or even go bargain basement at 99¢. Today even the big publishing houses are pricing their books low, so discount pricing is no longer the draw it once was. Authors have to compete on a level playing field as far as price and that means everybody has to hustle for a sale, even Jodi Picoult.
The best advice for selling a lot of books starts with writing a great book. Not just a good book, but an awesome book that grabs people from the minute they start reading. From there it has to have an awesome cover. Then it needs a phenomenal marketing strategy to lead people to that awesome cover, then into that awesome book. For the really lucky author, a reader will buy the book, leave a review and tell a friend about it.
I can’t tell you how to write that awesome book, that has to come from you, but I can tell you how I sold my awesome book. I can give you some insight into how the publishing industry has changed and what you have to do to stay relevant in a sea of free and cheap books.
When I say, “sea of free books,” I mean it literally. Grab a Kindle or an iPad and look through the free books. At any given time there are thousands of books sitting out there waiting for you to pick them up. Even priced at free, many of those books don’t get a second glance.
My book was among them for a while, until I learned how to market. My first three months in publishing I didn’t know where to start and it showed. I had only a handful of sales and just a few reviews on my books. I started researching ways to advertise and put myself out there. I had a very limited budget and started by doing everything that was free. I experimented until I found out what worked. Using certain websites, changing my keywords and tweaking my descriptions all helped me discover how to actually sell a book.
Using these tips last year I sold over 10,000 books in the Saints Mystery Series. Amazon offered to turn All Saints’ Secrets into Audiobook through their stipend program. I have been one of the best selling short story authors on Amazon, I was ranked in the top 100 best-selling books overall on Amazon in September 2014 by selling thousands of books in a matter of days.
It takes a lot of work to get to the top of the best-seller list if you are ready to learn what you need to do to make that happen come to talk to me at the Winter Writers Weekend in Lambertville, NJ.
Nicole Lougan is the author of the All Saints Mystery series. She will be presenting at the 2015 Winter Writers’ Weekend. click here for more information