New author, wannabe author, repeat author? Selling your book is top of mind. No one is as motivated as you in getting your book in front of more readers. Even if you’re using the traditional publishing route, you must take definitive steps for marketing your book.
And there are plenty of those steps to take to sell copies of your new baby. You’ll be told to …
Yet there’s one way to sell your book even before you undertake the overwhelming work of creating and implementing a book marketing plan. And if you take this step right from the start — even before you begin writing your book — you will have a much clearer vision of what to write and to whom. Completing this one step lays the groundwork for marketing and selling your book with success.
Here’s a key truth: you’re not selling a book. You’re selling a solution. A successful nonfiction book addresses a problem and explains a way to solve it. So before you write one word of your book, ask yourself these three questions.
Once you are able to articulate the problem your book will solve and the solution, you will be well on your way to writing your book. And when you identify the audience — the people who have the problem and need a solution — you have a good idea of where to market your book and to whom. Your answers to these three questions give you a ready-made plan for both writing and selling your book. It all starts with identifying the problem your book will solve.
If you know you want to write a book but don’t know exactly what you want to write about, start with a topic that captures your attention. You’ll be spending a great deal of time understanding this problem and writing about how to solve it. Since you’re making such a large investment of hours and mental capital, make sure you are interested in the issue, subject, or topic. Do so and your job will be much easier.
As you research and plan your book you’ll get to know others who have this problem and the answers they’ve found. Along the way, you’ll find ways to differentiate your solution from theirs. If you’re interested in the subject matter, you’ll be anxious to uncover as much information as possible. That in turn will help you speak with authority and passion.
For instance, I have absolutely zero interest in forex financial markets. The thought of writing a book about that topic makes me cringe. But gardening? Yes, please. I can write all day about growing plants.
It could be personal know-how or information you have acquired (or are eager to acquire during the writing process.) Experience allows you to write with a voice of authenticity and credibility.
You have two toes that are webbed together. It’s a struggle for you to find toe shoes for running. May I speak writer-to-writer here? Yes, you want to find a unique niche for your book, but very few individuals have this problem. It warrants an article, perhaps in a specialized running magazine or for a podiatry journal. But not a book — that is, provided you want to sell the manuscript to a publishing house or gain a self-published following of more than two readers. Your book needs to solve a problem that a pool of readers share.
Find out if your book has appeal with simple research. Study books about your topic that are already in circulation. Then, identify what’s missing in the marketplace and position your book to fill that gap.
And you needn’t worry that a particular topic is already been addressed by plenty of books. A popular topic means wide reader interest. The key is to find your unique angle.
For instance, both social media and the publishing world are flooded with information and books about running. During your research, you discover the marketplace lacks a full-length book about webbed-toe runner woes. But don’t take that as a sign to write one (for the aforementioned reason of limited interest). Dig a little further and consider writing a book about running gear for disabled or injured athletes. Plenty of people face that challenge. Your book will offer a specialized slant on a topic that appeals to a wide cross-section of readers.
Ask yourself if the topic presents helpful information. Does it have the potential to positively affect people’s lives? Is it entertaining or humorous? Will the content answer questions or impart a deeper understanding of people or the world? Will it address a topic that is relevant? Does the book tell a story that has yet to be told?
Don't be a Negative Nelly that doesn't provide positive solutions. Be the kind of writer that gives answers.
Your name will be on this book cover for a long time. Make sure your investment is well placed.
Use this template to get started writing and selling your book:
My book explains [the problem]
to readers who [target readers]
so they can [your solution].
With that information in hand, you’ll be able to write a book summary and create a cover that sells your book … offer readers a series of engaging email messages and social media posts and interviews about your book … write blog posts related to your book and set up an author profile … in other words, do all the things people tell you to do to sell your book.
You’ll do all that with much more ease because you’ll have already completed the hard work of marketing your book. You’ve identified a problem. And you offer a solution to readers who need it most.
More tips for writing and selling your book
Award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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