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Authors’ top tips for selling a book

Six authors share their best tips for selling a book to an agent, an editor, or readers.

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Selling a book isn’t always easy – whether your potential buyer is an agent, an editor or readers. There are many strategies to be considered and many routes to try while forging your way to best-selling author. Take it from these writers who have risen to the challenge with full force and now have plenty of advice to share.

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David Wright, co-author of the best-selling Yesterday’s Gone series:

“Always put your audience first. Forge a strong bond with your readers by delivering more than they expect, whether that be the occasional free short story or e-book, or a personal touch in your correspondence with them. Build a relationship through your newsletter that shows there’s a human being on the other side of the book. So many people email us surprised that we take the time to write back, saying that most writers ignore them. Hugh Howey is one of the writers who is doing this right with the little things, like putting sand in his Sand print books, surprising readers at bookstores and other little things that endear him to readers. Find your own way to thank readers for investing in you and the worlds you create.”



David Gaughran, Mercenary and A Storm Hits Valparaiso:

“This might seem counterintuitive, but beginners need to learn when not to promote. Newbies often adopt a scattergun approach, thinking they need to do something every day (or week) to promote their book. But it’s actually better to concentrate your efforts and do a major promotion on each title every three to six months. It also frees up more time for your most important task: learning how to write better…and faster. The latter is a skill anyone can learn, one which makes the best marketing strategies – 99 cent sales, mailing lists, group promotions, ads on reader sites – infinitely more effective.”


Johnny B. Truant, co-author of the bestselling Invasion series:

“This might sound like a sellout answer to a lot of writers, but having the right book cover is absolutely, unquestionably non-negotiable. You can have the best story in the world and nobody will give it a chance if the cover isn’t right. Although no self-respecting writer would put out a bad story, the truth is that you can sell a bad story if the cover is good. ‘The right book cover’ isn’t just professional, clean and eye-catching [even] in thumbnail size. It’s also appropriate to the genre and delivers what that reader expects and wants that your book delivers. In the past, we made the mistake of trying to be too clever, thinking, ‘Our book is unique, so we need to showcase that uniqueness on the cover!’ That’s often a mistake. No matter how much we try to deny it, people truly do judge books by their covers. So your goal should be to get the reader’s interest first, then convince him or her that your story is amazing and unique with your prose.”



Joanna Penn, How to Market a Book and Business for Authors:

“Writing is about you, but selling books is about the reader. The title, cover and genre will make a huge difference to how the book sells. So if you want to sell books, do your research into the genres that are popular by studying the top Amazon categories and Check out the cover designs, titles and sales descriptions, and use those to model success. Assign appropriate categories and keywords when self-publishing, which will help discoverability.”


K.A. Tucker, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water:

“Learn how to tell a good story and readers will keep coming back to see what new adventure you have in store for them. What does this mean? Hone your writer’s voice, find the right pace, keep your writing crisp and create interesting characters. Readers love to love (or hate) characters, and strong personalities can make even small, transitional plot elements within your story interesting. This is as true in real life as it is in the fictional world. Think about regular real-life examples – grabbing coffee at your local Starbucks, a long, dreary day at the office, etc. – where things got a little bit more interesting solely due to real ‘character.’”



Nathan Bransford, How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series:

“Do what you’re best at. Don’t make yourself miserable doing what you think you should be doing, do what you enjoy doing. Utilize your time where it’s best spent. If you have a talent and passion for blogging: Do that. If you enjoy Twitter and know the ins and outs: Do that. If you are a great public speaker and love attending writers’ conferences: Do that. There’s no one way to promote a book. Know your strengths, utilize your time well and remember that at the end of the day, the whims of fate and word of mouth are more powerful than any marketer.”




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