Ep 009: “How To Sell A Million Books”

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Welcome to the 9th episode of The Author Hangout, a “Hangout on Air” designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!

“Great information, thanks!”– Carla Sarett

“Thanks so much for sharing!”– D.I. Telbat

“That was fantastic! Thanks for having this event!”– Celeste Miller

“This was great… Can’t wait for the next session. Loved it!”– Latashia Figueroa

How To Sell A Million Books

Selling books can be hard. Luckily, there are proven steps you can take to start to generate sales, which leads to more sales, which leads to more exposure and more sales.

We were joined by CJ Lyons, a bestselling author who has sold over a million books. We discussed marketing tips for new authors, why it is important to start writing the next book, and questions every author should be asking themselves.

The Author Hangout – Episode 9: “How To Sell A Million Books”

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What are the challenges you face in trying to write your books?

CJ Lyons dives into her biggest struggle:

“The biggest thing for me is finding time. I always try to set the bar higher with each book. That takes more time to write a book. I can’t guarantee that I can write three or four books a year if I am trying to give my audience the quality they deserve. Unfortunately, they are very voracious. That’s why writers aren’t in competition with each other, because there’s no way we can keep up with their appetite. So, a lot of times I direct my readers to other thriller writers to give myself a break.”

This is fantastic advice. When authors first realize they aren’t competing, it frees them up to collaborate and work together with other authors. CJ touched on one fantastic way… recommending other peoples’ books to her readers. This creates good will, and opens up the other author to promote her books as well, so she gains new readers that way!

Episode 3 of The Author Hangout had some other great tips about partnering with other authors to accomplish more and gain more readers.

CJ also touched on what she thinks an authors’ best marketing tool is:

“If you don’t get the next book written, it doesn’t matter how well you market. In fact, I would suggest that our best marketing tool is sitting down and writing the next book.”

What were some of your challenges when you started?

CJ discussed how she was traditionally published but her fans wanted more. She had manuscripts that were professionaly edited by publishers but that were never published so she started self-publishing them and had some early success. Then, she realized she had a major struggle…

“I needed to learn more about the business side. That was a huge challenge for me. I am not a disciplined writer, I’m a medical doctor, an E.R. doctor. So, sitting down and trying to figure out marketing and publicity and promotion and website design and what kind of book cover should I be asking my artist for? It was overwhelming because it was just so much.”

CJ realized that there are resources out there and her blog for authors is perfect that!

She also discussed how to create a “global media empire”. Don’t miss this discussion! Watch the video or listen to the podcast above!

What are some questions writers should be asking?

CJ talked about the freedom that newly published authors have, those who may only be publishing one book. Listen to her encouragement on the video about this topic.

“You have to understand why you’re doing this, what you’re doing this for, and what you want to get out of it. I think it’s also very very important to understand objectively, and this is so hard for authors. But, what kind of book are you writing?”

She speaks to how important it is to not compare yourself directly to other authors, to look at what genres are popular (and which are not), and to truly look at your potential audience, and then look at your sales and reach based on that.

Once you have done that, you can set objective goals, and then start working to tackle those goals head-on!

She finishes it with this:

“The most important thing that is so important to ask yourself is: Who am I writing this for? Who are my readers? What’s going to make them jump for joy and delight and excitement when they read this book? What is going to make them feel so strongly about these characters or this story, that they want to tell all their friends?”

What is some practical advice for finding readers?

Here is CJ’s secret formula:

“Step 1… write a great book! That’s the easy part. Step 2… give your readers time to find the book and get so excited that they tell their friends. That’s the hard part. We’re impatient.”

She talked about how important it is to be patient and realize that it takes time. She didn’t sell a million books overnight. It takes time to engage with readers, it takes time for them to trust you, it takes time for them to read your book, then it takes time for them to tell their friends. But, as more and more people start reading your books and telling others, you begin to see a lot stronger growth. But it is key to know that it is going to take time.

Watch the video for the 3rd step and make sure you implement it!

She also talked about the “scarcity mentality” that many authors have, and how to overcome that.

Covers, titles, and blurbs. Why are each of those important in marketing?

She doesn’t pull any punches…

“Other than writing the best book possible, those are the three most important things in your marketing. So many people get fixated on how many Facebook likes they have or Twitter followers, and that’s all for nothing if once they click through to the book and they see a cover that is confusing, or doesn’t immediately tell them what kind of book this is. Or, they see a title that is confusing…”

She also talked about a common trap authors fall into when writing their blurbs and what they should instead be putting in their blurbs. Watch the video to learn more about this.

She also talked specifically to the person with just one book:

“I wouldn’t even market that book, other than sitting down and writing the next book. Here’s the reason why: You want the people who do fall in love with the first book, you want them to get to the end and say, Hey what else does this guy have? I want to read more of him or her. You want them to be able to click on something immediately.”

We definitely agree with CJ! That said, you can still send your readers of your only book somewhere that is beneficial for you. Here is our list of calls to action you can put in the back of your book.

How do you work on a budget and still get the quality you’re looking for?

CJ started off with what you DON’T want to do:

“First of all, you don’t want to settle. I did that early on with some of my cover art. I settled with cover art that I knew wasn’t the best… I just didn’t even know how to talk to a cover artist.”

She talked about how to find some good cover artists and what to look for when you are looking fora cover artist. She also offered a few other options to get cheap cover art (which can be applied to other services you need).

She followed it up with this:

“Whenever you don’t have money, it means it’s going to take more time and energy.”

One viewer (Ronda) summed it up like this:

“You always ‘pay’ with time, energy or money. It’s just a matter of which currency you choose to use. #AwakenedAuthor”

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