Whether you are a self-publishing author or you have a full-scale publisher working with you, there is no magic fairy dust you can sprinkle on a book to make it sell well. The fact is, there just is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and working hard to market your book.
Having said that, these days internet marketing makes it is a lot easier to sell a book. There are excellent tools available on a variety of platforms. So, harness the internet and increase book sales from the comfort of your living room—or wherever you are working.
If you’ve written a nonfiction book and wish to pursue traditional publishing, your first step will be to write a book proposal. This is a hefty document that explains to an agent or publisher why your book is worth a glance. It’s basically a business plan for your book to help it get accepted by an agent or publisher.
What a book proposal needs to contain
Book proposals vary in length, usually running ten to twenty pages (without sample chapters). I’ve seen proposals that push 100 pages when the chapters are included.
Publishers and agents will expect your proposal to contain these standard elements:
An Overview: This is a summary of your book and is usually a couple of pages in length. This comes first in the proposal but should probably be written last.
Target Audience: This is a description of your readership. Who did you write your book for? Be specific, not general.
Author’s Bio: This piece needs to be slanted to the prospective agent or publisher, telling them why you are the best author for your book. Although you can’t just copy various bios you’ve written prior to this, you can use them as a starting point.
Comparative Titles: You will need to compare your book to several other titles that relate to your subject, explaining why your approach is different. Here you’ll establish a need in the market for your book.
Marketing Plan: This is the most crucial part of your proposal. Here you must tell the agent or publisher what you plan to bring to the table when it comes to marketing and promoting your book.
Table of Contents: Include the outline of chapters for your book, along with a brief summary of each.
Sample Chapters: Include two or three chapters to show the agent or publisher your writing style and voice. Show off your best chapters here.
Tips on how to write a book proposal
Tip #1: Your marketing plan is more important than the quality of the writing.
Oh no! Really?
Unfortunately, yes. Of course, a poorly written manuscript won’t sell copies, but neither will an unknown author without credentials. Publishers want to see a market for your book along with some kind of promise that you’ll help sell copies. A well-developed blog and a YouTube channel with subscribers is a good starting place.
Tip #2: Discuss how the book will help your readers
While it is important to share the concepts of your book in your proposal, the agent or publisher is really only interested in your book’s content as it relates to the interests of your potential readers:
“Should I really spend twenty bucks on this book?”
“What will I get out of it?”
“Why should I pick this up and read it?”
You need to address these concerns.
Tip #3: You might need to submit a completed manuscript
Although it’s very possible that you can write an incredible proposal and receive a contract from a publisher, first-time authors often need to complete the manuscript before they will be taken seriously. This is especially true if you’re writing a memoir. Any agent or publisher taking on a new writer is taking a chance, so they often want to see the finished product before committing to it.
Tip #4: Write about what you’ve done, not what you plan to do
If you don’t have a strong social media platform, it might be tempting to propose things you’ll do in the future. Don’t tell your prospective agent or publisher that you’ll create a blog one day. Create the blog before you submit the proposal! Guest blog NOW then reference those sites in your proposal.
Tip #5: Read the submission guidelines carefully
This tip is the most important. If you write a brilliant proposal, but don’t bother to read what the agent or publisher needs to see, it will be rejected without a glance. While many agents ask for the same thing, some will ask for only segments of your proposal. Read over the guidelines carefully and follow their directions to a T. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to rid your book proposal of all grammatical and spelling errors. The document needs to sing!
This is in no way a comprehensive discussion about how to write a book proposal. My purpose here is simply to get you started, give you a few tips, and, hopefully, make the process a little less painful. If you’re interested in a ghostwriter’s fee for writing a proposal or a book, check out my article on the subject.
If you’d like to read more articles about marketing your book, here are a few suggestions:
A first-time author needs to roll up their sleeves and get creative in order to sell copies of their book. Let’s start with guerrilla marketing as an approach.
What is guerrilla marketing?
Simply put, guerrilla marketing is a low-cost way to promote, which relies on creativity and ingenuity rather than large amounts of cash.
When you’re a first-time author, you probably don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to throw at marketing and promotion. Am I right? However, you must get the word out about your book, if you want to sell copies. That’s where guerrilla marketing comes in.
Many people seem to have the misconception that if you write a good book, it will sell on its own. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. These days, authors must sell their books. Even if you have a traditional publisher, they will expect you to have a killer marketing plan. And if you self-publish, your book will die on the vine if you just put it up on Amazon and hope for the best.
As a first-time author, you will need to find some simple, free ways to promote your book. Sure, you can always throw money at the problem, but let’s start with guerrilla marketing. Keep in mind these tips aren’t a complete marketing system by any means; rather, they are suggestions to get you started so that you can reach readers and make yourself known. The rest is up to you!
Know your reader
Before you begin to promote your book, you must know your reader. Who are the people you want to pick up and read your book? Take the time to consider your market.
Define this demographic as precisely as you can. Then brainstorm ideas about how to reach them. There really is no cookie-cutter plan when it comes to guerrilla marketing your book. Remember, you’re substituting brilliant creativity for cash.
For instance, if you’re promoting a sci-fi book, why not create bookmarks featuring your book and hand them out at the next sci-fi convention? You could also create a T-shirt with your book’s title on it, along with a catchy tag line.
The World Wide Web Is Yours
Many of us spend a good portion of the day online. This is where we shop, find information and just hang out. Reaching people online is a vital part of any promotional strategy. But be warned: Nobody likes to be harangued into buying books. It’s annoying. Instead, become engaged with the folks who share your interests. Become a vibrant, vital part of the community you join. As you establish yourself as an expert in your field, others will take notice and naturally become interested in what you have to offer.
I recommend using these tools to promote your book:
Author Website – Every first-time author needs their own website. This is your “virtual home” where your readers (and future readers) will come to find out all about you and your books. I highly recommend avoiding the free websites and splurging for your own domain name. It looks more professional.
Blog – Your author website needs a blog. Write content that is relevant to your audience, sharing your expertise, viewpoints and experiences. Plan to post once or twice a week. In addition, exchange guest blogs with another author. It will help you both.
Facebook – Set up a personal page and a separate author page for your book. You can share content between the two, but you should not flood your personal page with a lot of book announcements. Also, consider starting or joining Facebook groups that relate to your book topic or genre.
YouTube – Book trailers are a key part of any marketing plan these days. They should be short and sweet and, of course, very catchy. Check out mine for Chess Is Child’s Play. If you get lucky, it might just go semi-viral. If you have a non-fiction book, consider also creating a how-to video series related to your book’s content. Be creative in sharing your expertise. And don’t forget to include links to where viewers can purchase your book.
Other social media platforms – Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are three other key websites you might explore. Each has their own style and purpose. Engage with the ones you like best. It will be more fun for you, and you’ll probably be more authentic on the platforms you enjoy.
Feedback from readers is one of the cornerstones of any marketing plan for first-time authors or even experienced writers. Amazon and Goodreads are two important platforms to collect reviews.
Always offer a no-strings-attached free book to any reviewer. Keep in mind that not everyone will follow through, so budget accordingly. But never be stingy with the number of books that you’re willing to send. Also, be sure to give people time to properly review your book. Don’t rush them. Having said that, you can politely request that they let you know when they can schedule time to read and review your book. That gives you some leeway to tactfully nudge the process along.
In addition, consider requesting reviews from popular bloggers. Those can be harder to get, but they are invaluable. Find people who would appeal to your target readership. For instance, to promote Chess Is Child’s Play (a book which instructs parents how to teach their young children chess), I approached parent bloggers as well as chess enthusiasts, as these were two of my key target readers. Sometimes readers would send me photos featuring my book (see photo above from the West Pasco Chess Club).
In-Person Promotional Activities
While many of us are learning to master online avenues for reaching our audience, the tried and true promotional activities are still effective. Honestly, nothing beats the thrill of live interaction. Here, again, your emphasis should be on establishing relationships and helping others; don’t just peddle your books. And whatever you do, don’t just go to friends and family and beg that they buy a copy of your book. That’s always an uncomfortable approach.
Instead consider these ideas:
Hold readings and book signings – Your local bookstore is likely to set up a table for you one Saturday, even if you’re a first-time author. In addition, libraries are often game. However, think outside the bookstore and consider setting up a table where your readers might be hanging out. Get creative!
Teach classes – There are many venues that would appreciate hearing you share your expertise. Again, go where your readers are and offer your advice for free. If they like what you have to say, they will probably pick up your book.
Partner with other writers – It’s a well-known business axiom that businesses do better when they are positioned together. That’s why you often see a Coffee Bean near a Starbucks or a Papa John’s near a Pizza Hut. As an author, you can apply the same principle and join forces with other authors to market your books together. Besides, you might find the process more enjoyable.
Attend events – Go to any event where you might find people who are interested in the topic of your book: conventions, craft fairs, business networking meetings, vendor fairs, etc. Connect with others, share with them, maybe even bring along some copies of your book and hand them out. You never know what these connections might lead to.
Of course, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg for a first-time author. Keep your eyes and ears open for any and all opportunities to share your expertise and your story with others. Be genuine and focus on helping people and book sales will naturally follow. I’d love to hear your guerrilla marketing ideas in the comment section below!
Here are a few other articles you might enjoy reading:
A writer for hire is a goldmine to entrepreneurs! Most business owners are overloaded with the various day-to-day activities of operating their company. They get to pick their own hours, but those hours usually push way beyond any 9 to 5 job. Personally, I can attest to that! No, the average CEO has no time to write a book. So, what’s the solution?
Hire a writer for hire. Hire a ghostwriter. It makes sense!
Would you like increased credibility?
If you’re a successful CEO, you probably know the effect of handing a potential client a book with your name blazoned on the cover, right? It’s one of the best ways to show credibility. People respond to published authors a little differently; you instantly become an expert in your field . You also gain peer respect.
However to maintain that respect, the book must be well-written. If you’re writing your memoir, it must be riveting, following all the basic rules of writing. Publishing a poorly written book with tons of errors will backfire on you.
Do you have a story to share?
Most successful entrepreneurs have many stories to share. Writers for hire know how to pull these stories together in such a way to create a book that won’t be put down. Perhaps you have created your businesses from scratch. How impressive is that?
Of course, I’m sure you made plenty of mistakes on your journey, and through those learning moments, I’m sure you’ve stumbled upon various key successful actions.
Those lessons can be key components for a great book.
Are you willing to share yours?
How many people are struggling in today’s economy? Many readers want to create their own thriving business, but don’t know what is involved.
They need guidance, and you can provide that!
Do you have advice for existing clients?
How many times have you repeated the same set of instructions for your customers? Wouldn’t it be great if you could just hand your client a book and have them read the relevant portions for their situation? Imagine the look on their face as they accept your book.
And if you’re a coach, your knowledge and advice could reach more people if you wrote a book. There are only so many hours in a day and so many people you can help one on one. By writing a book you can get your message out there to more people.
How can you market your book?
Once you have your book in hand, make sure to plan a marketing strategy:
Offer to be a guest lecturer
Give seminars around the country
Build an attractive website with a blog
Maintain a healthy social media campaign
As an author, you will want to give lectures or offer seminars to your fans. This is a great opportunity to sell your book and get more name recognition. It also allows you to get personal feedback from your readers.
You definitely will want an online presence. Make sure to have a good-looking website, with a strong call to action. Add in articles to give potential readers a taste of what you can do for them. Also, start your social media campaign now, as it takes time to build up a following.
Books help to brand your name. As more people buy and read your book, they will recommend it to others. Word will spread and your name will be better known.
Make sure to make your book available on eReaders. Amazon sells more eBooks than hard copy books today, because they are easy to produce and sell.
As a ghostwriter, a writer for hire, I can tell you that books help entrepreneurs on into the future. The book you write today will be passed around decades from now!
Do you have a great book idea? Do you seek to publish a book?
Having talked to many people over the last decade or so, I have heard a lot of excellent book concepts. Some clients want to write their exciting life story while others have a good how-to book in mind. And many have a fictional story they want to share.
It seems to me, the place where many of them fall short is the follow-through. Coming up with the idea is one thing, but writing your book then getting it published takes some dedication and know-how.
Two ways to publish a book
One of the top questions I routinely receive is, “How do I publish a book?” So, I wanted to address this topic for those of you who may have the same question. Basically, there are two main choices:
Find an agent, who will help you find a publisher.
Self-publish your book.
So, how do you know which is the best option for you?
Well, if your story has been featured heavily in the news for the last few months or you are a top celebrity, you probably want to hire an agent and find a publisher. It won’t be hard and you might get an advance (money paid by the publisher when the contract is signed, which is paid against future sales of your book). They will take over the publishing process for you, so all you really need to worry about is writing your book.
However, if you fall into the category that most people do, where you have an excellent fiction or nonfiction book concept, but you aren’t a household name, you’re probably better off self-publishing your book. You can always try to find a publisher, but they will need to see that you have an excellent marketing plan with a proven track record in sales, before they will invest with you.
Marketing your book
Many people don’t realize that publishers expect their authors to sell their own books. Authors need to be out there, very visibly, making an impact with their readers. Action is key.
Today, self-publishing is a good, viable option.
When you self-publish, you will need to market and sell your book on your own, but here are a few tips:
Get a website going early on to promote your book.
Read up on how to self-publish and market your book.
Attach a blog to your website and blog as often as you can.
Guest blog on relevant sites.
Ask people to review your book and post these on their blogs and Amazon.com.
Always keep copies of your book in your car so you can sell it.
It’s also a good plan to set up avenues for selling your book. Some people do a lot of public speaking and lectures while others hold book-signings. There are various options. Get creative with it and enjoy the process!
However, the first step involves actually writing a book. So, what are you waiting for? Get started now!
If you’re an entrepreneur, it makes good business sense to write a book. Entrepreneurs make great authors.
You are so brilliantly unique and wonderfully essential to our society. We need more of you in our world, continually enriching us with your creativity and productivity.
I’m fully aware that you live and breathe your product or service. You give of yourself wholeheartedly and rarely live by the clock, because you love what you do.
After talking to many self-created business owners, I understand the challenge involved with building a client base. There are many techniques, but success always seems to boil down to entering the tricky world of sales.
Entrepreneurs and sales
Let’s be real, what entrepreneur can make a living while attempting to elude sales?
It’s safe to say that you must bite the bullet and embrace the inner salesman within you.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking about becoming a greedy, aggressive, pushy person who tries to force things on people they don’t honestly need. No, I’m talking about honing the intricate art of interesting people in the product or service that you provide. It’s just good business sense.
That’s where ghostwriters come in.
That’s where I come in.
How many potential clients could you interest if you authored a well-written book about your niche-market expertise?
Write the book on your niche subject!
“Well, Mrs. Prospect, funny you should ask. The fact is, I wrote the book on that subject!”
There are only a few things that impress people more than this statement. And it holds true for so many types of business. Whether you’re selling gluten-free cupcakes or specializing in commercial real estate, do you agree that you can draw in more clients if you’re a published author on the subject? After all, entrepreneurs make great authors!
Chances are, if you are successful, you could write this book yourself. You have the necessary talent and creative ability, but let’s be realistic…
Entrepreneurs rarely have time to write a book
Writing a book takes hundreds of hours. That’s why most successful entrepreneurs find it cost effective to hire a ghostwriter.
Basically, as with any business decision, it comes down to finances.
The first step, the first calculation, involves figuring out how many new clients you’ll receive when you author a book. If you hand your book to a prospect, they’re more likely to become a client. Bottom line, you’re certain to gain credibility and earn respect, which should translate to new business.
I’m not here to talk you into this idea, but if you’ve read this far, you must like the concept.
The next step is to calculate what sort of income you can expect from those new clients. Don’t forget to factor in your expenses associated with this new business. Let’s keep it real and be conservative.
Now balance that with the cost of hiring a ghostwriter, $50,000 for a 200-page book. Plan for the project to take you a year or more to complete then add in another six months to a year to publish and market your work. Give yourself time. It’s not an overnight process.
If you’re ahead financially after five years, is that a promising investment for you?
If not, consider writing a shorter book. Most ghostwriters charge by the word, so that will cut down on costs.
So, what did you decide?
If you’ve determined to use good business sense and want to reach out and hire a ghostwriter, please email me. I’m interested in hearing from you, learning about your project. Please include your budget and time line, so that I can fully understand your needs.
Invest in yourself and others will be more likely to invest in you!
I’m telling you, entrepreneurs make great authors!
C.V. stands for Curriculum Vitae, which is Latin for “the course of my life.” It is the modern day resume, which is more comprehensive, providing a potential employer with an overview of a person’s professional background.
Personally, I still use the word “resume.” I think today the two terms are pretty well interchangeable. However, with a resume, you must make sure it is one or two pages. A C.V. can be longer.
Please check out my resume if you’d like to see an example. It has worked well for me!
What should my C.V. or resume have?
Consider what you would want to know about someone if you were hiring them! That will help you put together your C.V.
Here are some elements that you’ll want to include:
Your name and contact information
Where you went to school
Your work experience
These are the basic elements, but you can get creative with it. Don’t be too mechanical. For instance, when I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Civil Engineering, I had no experience. However, I received a high paying job right out of the gate. Why?
On my resume, I made sure to include that I was one of the top 50 women chess players in the country. It came up in almost every interview as a point of interest with the employer. I’d watch him read my resume with a sort of glazed bland expression, waiting for him to come to that line, when his eyes would inevitably pop.
What should go first on my C.V. or resume?
This is a very important point. This goes back to the original question: What is a C.V.? What is the purpose of this document?
You want to promote yourself so that your potential new boss sees you in the right light and hires you, right? Lead with your best feature!
If you have a PHD in your field, by all means, lead with education.
Perhaps you’ve just written a best-selling book, that should be top on the list!
If you have no work experience, but are an Olympic gold medal winner, that should be the focus, front and center.
People often start with work experience, because that is most relevant, but you need to decide what is right for you. What will get you noticed? And again, what would you want to see at the top of the resume?
Please feel free to share your resume or C.V. here. Provide a link, so that we can learn more about your experience and see how you put your resume together! What advice do you have for people creating their very first resume?