How do you sell books? How do you sell music? How do you sell your product?
Aaron and I released Brother Dust: The Resurgence last week for .99c —less than a candy bar and someone can buy a year’s worth of our hard work in carefully arranged digital pixels. Since our the release of what is our debut novel, we have sold hundreds of books and racked up over 20,000 page reads through Kindle’s unlimited plan. Needless to say, we’ve been asked by a lot of people
“how did you do that?”
The answer, for us, is simple. God. We’ve been praying over this book since day one. Although we give Him all the credit, there are some simple and practical things that we’ve been able to share as well.
- You aren’t selling a book, you’re selling yourself.
A good friend of ours, Nick Cole (author of one of my favorite books of all-time Soda Pop Soldier ) was the first to give us this advice but it was repeated by a dozen amazing authors after that.
Try to sell a book and you’ll get some sales. Sell yourself and you’ll sell all your books, forever.
Truest advice I’ve heard since getting into this industry. Its like the old adage, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
Both are true. If people like you, it doesn’t matter if you put out a book that isn’t phenomenal. They will read it because it’s you. Of course, putting out a phenomenal book helps too.
2. Have friends, not fans.
I bet this was another piece of Nick Cole advice. This is true in every single facet of life, not just writing. We aren’t looking for fans.
Fans are people who follow you from a distance. Even in our faith we don’t believe Jesus is looking for fans. Friends are people who will stick by you through thick and thin. In the world of publishing books, there will be times that are thin—not just financially speaking either. There are times when you will have books that you think are great……..and they aren’t.
I call this American Idol Syndrome.
Its a real thing! Look it up! (no don’t, I totally made it up.) I’ll explain: We’ve all seen the auditions of American Idol. Goofy looking kid comes on, the producers are jerks and play up the story like he’s going to be something great, but instead he is absolutely appalling (as Simon would say). They ask, “who told you you could sing?” The answer? Mom, sister, friends, etc.
Somehow, you’ve tricked yourself into believing what you have is better than it is. Your close friends tell you its great, either out of kindness or because you are such an amazing person that they subconsciously ignore your faults and only see the greatness. Mom Goggles.
This is what I am talking about! You want friends that will love your stuff even if it sucks. Write lots of blogs. Make sure people know who you are. Answer every Facebook message. Talk to anyone about anything whenever they want to. If you can’t, tell them you’ll get back to them and actually do it.
3. Be honest.
You have to be honest. This is why Aaron and I don’t shy away from our Christianity. We don’t really care if you’re a christian, but you should know that we are. Why? Because it carries over into everything we do. If for some reason you can’t support us because of that faith, then you aren’t likely going to enjoy anything we do anyway. Does Brother Dust talk about Christianity? No… but strangers have commented on godly aspects of the book that we ourselves didn’t realize existed.
Making believe you’re something you’re not because someone asked you to do it will get you absolutely nowhere fast. You can’t sell something you don’t have a passion for. My wife often comments that I can sell ketchup to a woman wearing white gloves. Why? Because anything I talk to you about I’m going to be passionate about. I’m a pastor, it’s my job. But even beyond that…
We own a bidet—if you don’t know what that is you’re missing out. You attach it to your toilet and it cleans your butt. Its magical. Because I love it, many people we know now own them. Because I’m passionate about the things I love.
I love writing. I love people. I love each and every one of you.
Sell yourself and don’t sell yourself short.