How do I sell a book to someone I don’t know and will probably never meet? And then how do I do it again and again and again?
That is the challenge of self-publishing. Everyone says social media is the answer. They are right, partially, that may be the medium but it is far more complicated than that. When I decided to write my first book, I realized I was doing it for entertainment. Writing the book was entertainment for me, and I hope reading the book will be entertainment for those who read it. With 3000 books being published every day, how do we differentiate ourselves. How do we get the buyer to choose our book over all the others on the market?
When I wrote the book, as I said above, it was for entertainment. I had no intention of the book having some deep, dark message. But when I finished writing it, I realized there was a message or theme that was central to the book. Success is defining another person’s need and finding a way of satisfying that need. When I was a salesman, that was the message I learned. Some people think when you are selling something, just price the product lower than the competition. Unfortunately, everybody can do that. If you try to sell a product at a price lower than the competition, they can just lower their price, and that becomes a vicious spiral down where nobody makes any money. So price is not the answer. As the salesman, you need to get to know the customer and determine what he or she really needs. Why should they buy your product versus buying from someone else? There is not one answer that fits all customers, so you have to find ways to satisfy customer’s needs, one at a time.
The lead character in my book discovered in the spy business it was just like selling a product. He had to find what the other person’s needs were. In Hong Kong, his handler from MSS liked living in Hong Kong and wanted to stay there with his mistress, but money was a problem. So in that case, money was the answer to satisfying his need. In another relationship, Yu Lijun needed help getting out of China with his wife after he retired. Arranging to relocate him and his wife to the U.S. with passports satisfied his need.
Some people think satisfying someone’s needs is the same thing as finding out what motivates another person. I believe motivation comes from within, and trying to motivate someone else really isn’t possible. You can inspire someone but you really can’t motivate another person.
That brings me back to the basic question, how do you “inspire” someone to buy and read your book? I think it is like building a bridge or a house, one step at a time. Having someone else recommend your book to one of his/her friends is a good way. If you do that often enough it can get the building process started. Getting a good review from someone who is well known or has credibility is another important avenue. But getting reviews is a whole other subject that is probably worthy of another blog post.
I loved math and sciences when I was in school a thousand years ago. With that math background, I have concluded that social media is a critical tool for book sales success. For example, I now have just over 100 friends on facebook. I am working really hard to “inspire” each one of them to buy my book, and then recommend it to their friends, assuming they like it and I am sure they will. If each of my facebook friends have a 100 friends or more, and if most of my friends recommend the book to their friends, that opens up a market of 10,000 potential buyers. Then, if all my friends friends recommend the book to their friends, I am looking at a market potential of a million potential buyers. That would make me a very happy camper. So, right now, I am focusing on satisfying the needs of 100 friends, one friend at a time. I will let you know, how it works out.