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What Really Sells Books? Tip 2 – The Basics


Last post, we talked about how doing book signings the right way, can sell books quickly. But there’s something you need to do first.  You need to have the basics covered.  Without these things, you have slim to no chance of selling books.  Awareness is great, building a fan base is great and equally important but at the end of the day, we want to sell books.

Here are a few things that are very important: (arguably, in order of importance according to the way many readers shop)

1) A great cover. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a first-class cover. Whether you’re doing an eBook cover or a physical book cover, I’ve seen great covers for as little as $5.  If you’re going to splurge on anything, I say start with a great cover. Without it, even the best story ever told, may not be looked at twice by a potential customer. If you have the talent to do it yourself, go for it, but most of us are not professional book cover designers and even if we are, we may not know how to design a cover that will sell a book to our particular audience.  Go to Amazon or Goodreads and find book covers that you love but most importantly book covers from books that have sold well and give those samples to the graphic designer.   A great book designer will know how to create a great front and equally important back cover.

2) A great description.  You can be the greatest writer in the world and not write a great book description. There’s an art to it and oftentimes a writer is not objective enough about their book to know what elements of it that are appealing to their readers.  Get help. There are many reasonably priced writers who’ll do it for you and if you have a small budget, trade favors with other writers you respect and ask them to write your description for you.  Do blurbs work? It helps to have a couple of blurbs from famous people or those respected by your audience but is it guaranteed to sell your book? Not necessarily. Don’t go crazy.  Putting a blurb by an author your particular audience has never heard of may be a total waste of time.

3) A great back story or bio.  Credibility is important in your field.  If you write medical thrillers and you’re a doctor, great! If you’re a mother of three or teacher and you write kids books, perfect. Make sure that if you’re using your career background for part of your author bio, that it’s relevant to the genre you’re writing in. If you have a powerful back story about what lead you to writing the book, use it. This too, should be written by someone else, if you feel that maybe you’re too close to write it objectively.

4) Professionally formatted. If your book doesn’t look like “a real book”, a reader may not be able to pinpoint what’s wrong but they will feel it’s amateur. Get a professional to do it or go online and get a template that will help you make your book as professional as possible. It doesn’t have to cost a lot but you will oftentimes see a big difference between hiring a professional and trying to put it together yourself.

5) A great opening chapter.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m not hooked by the first 3-5 sentences, I put the book down.  If you’re going to splurge on anything and you cannot afford to hire an editor for your whole book, get someone who’ll line edit and copy edit your first few chapters.  They must be as strong as ever.


In my next post, I’ll talk about another way that sells books in 30 minutes or less — speaking engagements.

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