Promoting your book is often a huge psychological hurdle for authors. One that many never get over. The interesting thing that I hear from a lot of authors is the word “self-promotion” when it comes to their book. This is the same person that can easily promote their speaking abilities, consulting services or their company’s product. The word they use for this is “marketing” or “sales”. Even if, in the first two examples, they are merely selling their advice, somehow this does not translate over to their book.
When you sell your book, the phrase gets switched to “self-promotion”. Why is that?
What is the power of going to a therapist? Or hiring a business coach (the same thing from all I can tell)? Sure, the insight of said therapist or coach is important. You don’t want to go to someone that will give you bad advice. However, I believe the most important thing they do is force you to externalize what is so caught up in your head. Often, as you start talking, you’ll become extremely surprised and appalled at the destructive thoughts that are cycling through your brain.
The power here isn’t in the person sitting across from you, it’s in taking something inside of you and setting it out in front of you so you can objectively make decisions about it.
My wife’s therapist calls these internal monologues that define behavior “scripts” and the trigger word for these is “should”. Any time the word “should” crosses your mind you are to stop, externalize the script that comes after that and then decide objectively if it’s a good or bad script. For instance:
Bad: “I’ve had a bad day so I should be able to eat a box of brownies.”
Good: “I spent and hour at the gym this morning so I should take a shower.”
The truth is, your book is a good thing. If you didn’t believe this, you would not have gone through the excruciating process of writing it. If it’s a non-fiction book, you are sharing knowledge, wisdom and insights that are going to change people’s lives for the better. If it’s a fiction or entertainment book, you are adding hours of enjoyment to people’s lives they wouldn’t have otherwise. Your book is a good thing.
If this is true, then by not promoting your book and getting it into as many people’s hands as possible, you are doing them a disservice. Your selfishly keeping something out of their lives that could better them in some way just because you’re afraid of something you call “self promotion”.
However, it’s not “self promotion”. It’s just “marketing” — like any other product that will improve people’s lives.
Somewhere along the way you get a script in their head that by promoting your book it is self-serving and anything else you do is somehow not.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
The typical author makes about $2 per $20 book that is sold. That’s a 10% margin. If you happen to be one of the very few authors that sell at least 10,000 copies of your book, you end up making about $20,000.
Of course writing a book can take a very short time or a very long time, but let’s just throw a time frame out there of 9 months. So you spend 9 months of early mornings, late nights and working lunches pulling together a manuscript. That’s not even counting the editing, rewrites and many other things you end up doing just to get it done.
9 months of work for $20,000. That’s well under $30,000 a year as a salary. Now let’s look at a few other numbers.
As any author will tell you, there is a lot easier ways to make money. Most professionals can start making thousands of dollars to show up and speak somewhere. Consulting services are often priced by the hundreds of dollars per hour. And if you are selling a product for your job, odds are that you make more than 10% off of each one and even so, it’s not a two year process (the typical length from book contract to book shelf) before you start getting a return on your time investment.
The idea that your book is “self promotion” and everything else you sell is just “marketing” or “sales” is ridiculous and false. It’s a script that was given to you at some point in your life and it’s time to let it go.
Here is your takeaway: Anytime you think about what you need to do to promote your book, and words like “self promoting” pop into your head, that’s your trigger to stop, externalize it and realize that by selling your book you are helping people and nobody else is going to do it like you will.
Joseph Hinson is the president and owner of Out:think Group, a firm that helps authors build their platforms, connect with readers and sell more books.
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