How to market and sell your business book

Self publishing a successful book means having a clear plan to market, promote and sell it over 12-18 months. A detailed content marketing plan is a critical part of this.

Most first time business book writers focus on writing their book and think that is the hardest part of the journey. But it’s not.

While writing your first business book is a challenge the hardest part of the whole business book self publishing journey is marketing and selling it. The marketing of your book takes planning and execution over an extended period of time – between 12 and 18 months – a requires an investment in time and money.

Many business owners/consultants want their book to sell well, but only focus on the immediate period prior to and after their book launch. This is a fun and exciting part of the self publishing journey. Most then get distracted with their business and their book languishes in boxes in a store room with occasional sales. Before long, the book has been forgotten about and, after a while, is used as a give away.

Of course, as the author you’re proud of your book but somewhat disappointed that it didn’t sell as well as you wanted it to.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Indeed, it shouldn’t be the case. If you develop a thorough book marketing plan that includes a detailed content marketing plan that cover 3 months prior to your book launch and 12 months after it, you can achieve the books sales, visibility and recognition you aimed to achieve. The key here is to focus on the book marketing plan, building your book community and consistently executing on your plan over time. If you don’t have the time delegate someone else to execute most of it.

And note, I write marketing and selling it because that’s the hard truth about wanting to share your business book with the world.

You have to be up for selling your book…and that invariably means selling you.

Most business owners, executives and entrepreneurs are deeply uncomfortable about the concept of ‘selling their book’. Sure, they want to get their book out there into the media, be on television talking about it, be invited to speak at events and conferences, but actually selling their book, no way.

I’ve even had a client who said ‘I want to publish my book but I don’t want to sell it. It doesn’t suit me to spruik myself or my book to my peer group. I don’t want people to think they have to buy it.’

Interesting approach I thought. I did manage to convince them to create a business book website so at least people could buy the book IF she spoke about it.

Many business people don’t like the concept of selling their book because they

  1. Fear of peer group/industry judgment
  2. Do not wanting to be seen to be pushing their book
  3. Don’t want to be seen as a self-promoter.

Here are my top 5 tips for how to sell your business book.

1. Change your mindset

Instead of thinking about selling your book think about the reason you wrote and published it – because you wanted to share your insights, knowledge, experience to a group of people to help them.

It’s easy to lose sight of WHY you started your business book journey, but keep this as your North Star.

2. Explore ways to talk/share your book where you can reach 10s or 100s of people

Most business book authors get hooked up in building a website, email drip campaigns, Facebook/Insta campaigns to sell one book to one person. This can be costly and hit and miss if you don’t know what you’re doing. Instead focus on where you can make the most impact. Usually this is through speaking to groups of people in your target audience. This could be for companies with their employees and/or clients/customers; at industry events, at events you organise in partnership with people/companies you know; via PodCasts, radio and television interviews and more.

3. Get others to help you promote your book

Matt Levy Sydney book launch. Going the distance, hosted by Jaqui Lane, The Book Adviser

You don’t have to be a lone ranger in selling your book. Build what I call ‘a book community’ early. Look across your networks of colleagues, clients, industry peers, board members, university alumni groups, community organisations you’re involved with, friends and family. Not everyone you know will be interested/suitable to help you with your book but a number will.

Engage a group of your network in your book journey on whatever social media channels they’re engaged with (#linkedin,#Facebook, Insta, industry organisations, commentators etc). Share your book journey with them, ask some of them for endorsements for your book, discuss who is interested in perhaps partnering with you on your book launch, company presentations,

Ask for support/assistance with one or two things only. Be clear about what you want them to do, when and how. Provide them with whatever they need to make if easy for them to help you. Be generous with your thanks (provide them with some signed copies of your book) . . . and then ask what you can do for them.

4. Get visible to your target audience

The Book Adviser Author Interview Series with Cynthia Dearin

You won’t sell copies of your book if no-one knows it exists. So you need to focus on ways that makes you visible to your target audiences. To do this you need to stop thinking about you (and your book) and think about who your audience is and where they currently go to seek out the information you have to share in your book.

Where and how are your target audience accessing the information you have to offer? What influencers/commentators do they read/listen to? What newspapers, magazines, PodCasts do they engage with? What social media channels are they engaged with? Do they prefer a printed book, eBook, audio book?

Knowing where your audience is and how they engage with information will help you focus your time, money and energy in the right places for your book.

You can’t market to everyone. Get specific and stay focused.

5. Be consistent and persistent

Selling your book is a medium-to-long term exercise. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen on #linkedin who ‘discover’ this platform and inundate it for 2-3 months only to fizzle out, never to be seen or heard of again. And, I’ve seen people who have a great book launch and do nothing else, expecting that ‘the world’ will discover them and their book. A tip, the world doesn’t.

Business book authors that do well, sell lots of books, get speaking engagements, are picked up by the media as an industry/subject matter expert work at it over time. To do this they have a marketing plan that includes a content marketing plan and they execute on this over time, consistently.

Overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there is a significant hurdle for many business book authors. But like most things, it’s a journey. As a writer myself I have a level of fear when I hit the SEND button to a client with the first draft of a manuscript. What if they don’t like it, what if I’ve got the tone wrong, missed some important things out . . . ? After 27 books I’ve had a lot of practice in writing and managing this fear, but I deeply understand it.

If you’re not willing to share your book with the world, why would other people?

Be proud of what you’ve written, focus on why you undertook this journey and if you need some help or advice on any part of this journey, contact me.