25 June 2013

To Sell or To Buy? Shifting books ain't easy

I sometimes think the only thing harder than writing a book is selling it. We've all been on Twitter, and bombarded with "Buy my book!" tweets, and if we follow a lot of the same writers, our feeds can be jammed with the original tweet, and fifteen retweets. After a while, you start to tune them out. On Christmas Day, I was astounded by the number of "Did you get a Kindle for Christmas? Then buy my book!" tweets doing the rounds. Take a day off, people!

So how DO you sell a book? Well I'm not entirely sure. I find it quite difficult to approach people to sell my book because I don't want to look like all I'm interested in is selling. I have tried blog tours, tweeting, joining discussion groups about my genre on Facebook, setting up a Facebook page for the book itself - I even took quotes from the book and turned them into 'quotes pages' which I uploaded onto both Facebook and a Pinterest board I created for the book. I've included an example in the post, not to sell the book but to give you an idea what I mean by 'quote page'. The book is a Western so I tried to choose a design aesthetic that would scream 'Old West'. Obviously if you're not a designer that's going to be more difficult to do, so this option of creating interest might not work for everyone.

So I figured instead of talking about how I sell books, I'd talk about what makes me buy books, in the hope that some specks of wisdom can be found in looking at the situation from the point of view of a reader - after all, readers are paramount.

I talk to a lot of writers on Twitter and Facebook, and I don't necessarily talk to them solely as a fellow writer - in a lot of cases, I'm one of their readers, too. However, I don't respond well to sales pitches, or "buy my book!" statuses and tweets. It's too "in your face" and intrusive. When anyone tells me to buy their book, my default response is "Why?" So I tend to ignore those writers who plaster links everywhere but don't really engage with anyone. The writers I do respond to are those who I just get chatting to, about everything and nothing - conversation flows, we get to know each other, and if I think they're cool, I'll check out their blog. Lo! They have a book for sale! At this point, my interest is piqued because I like them as a person, not as someone trying to directly sell me something. So I trot off to Amazon and download a sample. Now I'm a potential reader, and the only way the writer can make a sale is to write a good book. If I like the sample, I buy the book. Simple!

Well it sounds simple, and I know there's more to it than that - there are a lot of writers using social media, and it's impossible to be friends with everything because one day they might buy your book, but the point I'm trying to make is that I'm far more likely to buy a book because the writer interacted with me in some way. Maybe they bought my own book, or maybe they just helped me promote it. Maybe we swapped guest posts on each others' blog. Maybe they're the kind of cat who's happy to talk nonsense at 3am when neither of you can sleep. Either way, there's a personal connection there, and that's something you just can't forge with an automated direct message on Twitter.

What makes you want to buy a book?

1 comment:

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