Working with Tate Publishing authors everyday, it is not uncommon to hear someone new to the industry exclaim that his or her book will instantly "sell millions" and "take the industry by storm."
While I will never fault an author for believing in their work and being enthusiastic, it seems that blind enthusiasm can often prohibit an author from making good choices in taking the necessary steps to success.
If the steps look like this, something is generally wrong:
Step 1: Write and publish a book
Step 3. Sell millions
Clearly, something is off here.
The biggest step often skipped is this - Step 2: Building your name, reputation, and platform as a professional author. And of course, this is the most important step, and it takes much time and effort.
When you think about famous authors, the list is fairly short of those known for simply being a writer - John Grisham, Stephen King, James Patterson, and Stephanie Meyer come to mind - but many of the bestselling authors in today's market are known for something else they have done or because of the platform they had before writing books - Joel Osteen, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, and Michael J. Fox, for example.
The biggest and most often-skipped step authors want to make is leaping past the building of a name, reputation, and platform to just sell books as though they already had become a household name. The focal point for these authors becomes supplying bookstores with copies that "will sell themselves." But the reality is that books don't sell themselves, unless the public has an awareness of you or your book and the demand has been generated outside the retail market (as the celebrity authors above have done).
Having said this, I recognize that most authors will never pastor a mega-church with 20,000 members and have a weekly national TV ministry. The majority of authors will not run for Vice President of the United States. But the reality remains that you must gain an audience by building your name and expanding the sphere of influence you now have.
Here are three things you can do to expand your sphere of influence in a short amount of time.
- Use your book as a fund-raiser. In other words, find a worthy cause - cancer research, a church or missions group, a local school, etc. - and connect with local leaders of that organization (and beyond that, regional or national leaders) to donate portions of your book sales to their organization. This serves both you and the cause you are assisting and can get your book in front of a large mass of potential readers.
- Launch a Facebook fan page for your book. This enables you to spread the word further than your own hometown by engaging a social network that knows no bounds. As friends (and friends of friends) discover and "like" your book, the word will travel fast. This can introduce you to a whole new world of contacts, which can lead to the following...
- Pursue speaking engagements. If you are an author and are not engaging people personally with your message and thereby the news of your book, you will likely be disappointed in the sales of your book. Show me an author that is not afraid to speak anywhere and everywhere at any time about their book, and I'll show you an author that is selling books consistently.
I wish it were as easy as Step 1 and Step 3 above. If it were that simple, we'd all be on a yacht somewhere together. But if you skip Step 2 and do not build your name, reputation, and platform, you will likely not reach the next level as a professional author.