And Old Book, a New Bestseller
By Jo Lajko
It’s often said that it can’t be done… but anything is possible if you have a brutal seller’s mindset. Bear in mind that every book is a product. Whether it’s a new releases, an old book, a 50-page story, an 800-page epic, fiction, or nonfiction… they all have something in common when it comes to Amazon. As far as Amazon’s search engines are concerned, all of these books are just other products and their ID is – from their point of view – just a unique ASIN. Neither age, nor gender, nor history matters. All that matters is how well a certain ASIN is likely to sell.
So many authors have published their works expecting their books on Amazon to somehow sell themselves, and even possibly appear on Amazon’s top chart – oh, to have such confidence must be a wonderful thing! With some books having substantial marketing budget behind themselves, and some others represented by marketing professionals, many self-published books are unfortunately destined to disappear in the backgrounds, and simply fail. The quality of the book always matter, but nobody could deny that quality alone doesn’t sell books. Professional sales strategy and big advertising budgets make an enormous difference on digital sales channels… but a self-published author can’t compete against companies that have been selling books for decades; after all, their ability and know-how in making a book perfectly sellable is the second biggest asset they have. The first is – obviously – their money. Money buys audiences: it’s a simple law of big numbers, and one we can’t get away from.
Undoubtedly you may have read some success stories in the past. Yes, I know, some self-published authors really did it – and it’s highly impressive that they did. However, the other side of the coin – the sad truth of the matter – is that thousands of other authors have failed to achieve a positive profit margin, while the lucky few managed to make it big with seemingly little effort on their part. One could imagine that Amazon is not only the biggest bookseller in the world, but also the biggest graveyard for books and authors’ aspirations! A few million books (and that’s not an overstatement, amazingly) are just staying there, resting in limbo, without a single visit for weeks or even months – totally forgotten, marked as a failure, left to fade away. So many potential bestsellers have failed due to the fact that publishing is not a simple task, despite the fact it may look like one when you consider how slick the publishing procedure is on platforms such as Kindle. With just a few clicks, your book has been published! Wow… And then what?
However, your book actually might stand a chance, so long as you adopted a seller’s mindset and acquire some crucial marketing skills – something that I consider a vital element of digital sales success. Let’s drop the technical jargon and dive right into the middle of things. There are several steps to be performed before you engage in publishing on Amazon.
The sales strategy is built on data, not on our own subjective perception of what could turn out well. This is something you’ll have to bear in mind during this entire process. It’s not romantic, it isn’t glamorous… but it’s reality.
In fact, it doesn’t just come down to data. I actually see three crucial elements for any sales strategy:
If you are putting your book out there against millions of other books, you’d better have a decent data-based strategy. When writing a book, authors are fine when it comes to making investments in proofreading and editing. Editing is a must-have for any author, I wouldn’t disagree with that for a second. However, how many authors immediately jump at the chance of getting a marketing/sales professional involved? Precious few, actually, despite these people and their skills also being a must-have. You need data, and you need professionals that have access to the right data.
What kind of data do we use? Obviously, our main focus is on our competitors. Our data should show how successfully books in our specific genre are doing. What’s their overall Sales Rank? How many reviews do they have? What keywords do they use when creating their persuasive sales copy? This has nothing to do with writing, I know, and it isn’t necessarily the ‘fun’ part of producing a book for sale. However, this is something that HAS TO BE DONE BEFORE PUBLISHING. If not, you are just another fish in the sea… and one which is being quickly circled by sharks!
A smart seller is also someone who is technologically savvy. They must be familiar with all those fancy marketing tools and techniques, and stay updated on the latest developments in this field. To become familiar with them, an author must, therefore, acquire some specific knowledge. How do you set up a blog? What’s SEO? How do you use social media to sell more books? What’s the deal with Twitter? Are promotional sites any good? Why does a book need a good video?
So many questions, we know. You’d better learn the answers to them for yourself if you are in any way serious about self-publishing, though, as the answers to these questions will result in you seeing a huge difference in your ranking and sales figures. The alternative, of course, involves you hiring a marketing professional, just like you hired your editor. Publishing is not a process of getting your book on Amazon’s shelf. It’s A BUSINESS, and one which requires a business-like approach.
Another point: what about inbound sales? Can you really focus on your buyer’s needs and goals? How do you sell the way prospects buy? Again, more questions than any serious Amazon seller need to consider, if they want their product to get anywhere!
Yes I know, I’m being a little aggressive here… but a seller would understand, trust me. Sales are not something that just happens like a bolt from the blue. It’s something you need to make happen by using data, technology and inbound sales methods, with a professional guide leading you.
So, back to our original question. Can old book become new bestsellers? Well yes, they can, without a doubt. Just imagine, for a moment, that your book had a set-up that utilizes all available data and technology in establishing a unique customer experience. Imagine your book standing out, even without a strong advertising budget, lead by data-driven sales strategy… it’s not impossible, not by any stretch.
I have a real thing for old books. After all, some books simply failed to connect to readers, but many books never had the chance to connect. I always say: it’s never a lost game, so long as you believe in your book. If you want to bring your book back into the game, then have some faith, for there’s no doubt that it really can be done!
How? By following these steps:
Buy a license for professional tools, such as KDRocket, to research your competition, ideas, keywords, and categories.
Join a learning/coaching program on Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Blogging and other marketing channels that have proven to be successful in book sales
(I may have one for you – SEO Crash Course For Publishers)
Learn about your customer base; read reviews, join groups, engage.
Build your own audience, do some self-promotion. Start with a few followers, and never allow yourself to become discouraged.
There’s also a secret sauce you can add to your efforts: consistency. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t give up on your books. Give them the love, care, attention and professionalism they need, and help them bring their message to the readers who are out there, already searching for what you have to share!